For those who weren’t able to make it along to MINI MOOP: CHRISTMAS - our pop-up exhibition at Brighton’s Jubilee Library – here’s a small selection of the 40 ordinary people’s stories it presented.

This exhibition captured the depth and diversity of emotions the festive period can evoke from different people - Christmas isn’t a jolly time of year for everyone, and we wanted to acknowledge that.

This MINI MOOP also showed how powerful everyday objects can be when it comes to triggering memories, and how powerfully they resonate with others to provoke empathy and understanding - tying all of this together with a Christmas theme.

A heartfelt thank you to all the ordinary people who shared their stories, memories and objects with us.

Photo credits: Jakub Golis

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A letter from my Aunt

My aunt Sheila, who I called Aunt, was incredibly important to me as a child, like a second mother.

She bought me my first record player, my first camera and my first dictionary, inspiring my future more than my parents did. We lost touch – hadn’t seen here since the death of her husband, my Uncle Harold, in the early nineties. In 2010, we broke the silence by sending her a Christmas card and, a month later, she sent this reply with its surprising story.

We planned to call her and arrange to go up to London for a visit. We hadn’t got round to it and in the summer of that year, we got the news that she had passed away.

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My first and last Christmas in my country of origin (Hungary) with my friends, her parents and mine was a magical experience. We four sat around a king fir tree with presents around it. Mine was two oranges and a packet of chewing gum. I’ve never had oranges or chewing gum before and was determined to keep them for as long as I could.

We kept the Christmas celebrations secret from our neighbours because any religious festivity was frowned upon by the Communist regime and we could not trust anyone not to report us to the authorities. This was my last Christmas with my friend and a few months later the revolution, or as the authorities preferred to call it “the uprising” broke out and people just disappeared, including our friends.

We met years later and remembered old times. Since them, however, all three of them and my parents have died and I will always remember that magical Christmas with them.

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This little piece of angle bauble is all that I have left of a decoration my mum gave me for my new home the Christmas before she passed away.

My stepson accidentally broke it a few years ago and at first I was very upset, as you can imagine, but it turned out he was much more upset than me and went out of his way to find a new version.

This made me think about family and how sad memories can be re-framed. Christmas, which for a while was full of unhappy memories and feelings of loss, can become something to look forward to again and you can create new family and new memories.

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Disco Pete

A Brighton Band Aid-style Christmas song and music video featuring elderly legends Disco Pete and Dancing Ann and a host of celebrities, was created in 2016 to raise funds for a local befriending charity. All proceeds from sales of Jingle Bell Brighton Rocks by newly-formed supergroup The Brighton Belles were donated to Time To Talk Befriending.

Jingle Bell Rock’s main star is Brighton’s oldest raver, Sussex-born Pete Turner, 80, whose unbending passion for music and dancing has earned him many fans.

The Brighton Belles want to encourage communities across Brighton to befriend their elderly neighbours this Christmas.

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The red card was the first one I ever made for someone. The card with kings on it was the first one someone made for me.

His little face as he gave me this card was so precious. We had discovered the gift of giving.