Merry Christmas Eve

164442701I think I love Christmas Eve even more than Christmas Day itself.

This year, everything will be bought, wrapped and stashed in various neighbours’ houses by lunchtime allowing me, for the first time in history, to go along to my friend Anna’s Christmas Eve for mince pies, mulled wine and bracing walk (to the pub) with a clear conscience and no lingering angst about presents still to be wrapped.

The kids will, as usual, moan like crazy at having to leave their computer and TVs behind to get into coats and walk ten minutes down the road. But what they don’t know, until they get there, is that the house will be full of equally dragged-out children and Anna’s new puppy for them to play with.

Christmas may be all about children, but it’s run by the adults and that’s why, despite what the Grinch ( finally realised, it does come with ribbons, and tags, and it does come with packages, boxes and bags, but it doesn’t just come from a store and so perhaps does mean a little bit more.  I can remember being equally disgruntled at having to switch off the TV to listen to my dad’s traditional Christmas Eve story – until he got started, then we were as mesmerised as the shepherds spotting Gabriel.  His story had been sparked off by a question from one of us, then aged about two or three, about whether Father Christmas would be able to find us now that we had moved house.  Of course, dad had replied, explaining that Father Christmas’s fairy had a list, with everyone’s address on it. Unfortunately, his forgetful fairy assistant was about as good at paperwork as I am, and, so the story went, sent Father Christmas down the chimney of every house we had ever lived in until he finally caught up with us wherever we were that year. Poor old Father Christmas would come down chimney after chimney, confidently hoping to find my sister and I, then discover another family snoring away in the house. He would consult the fairy who would consult her list, and realise her mistake and off they’d go to the next address they had for us, progressing from ‘the cottage’ to ‘the vicarage’ to ‘the boat in Malta’ to ‘the boat back in England’ to ‘the caravan’ to ‘the new cottage’, as the fairy went through every address she had for us. The story got longer and longer each time we moved until, eventually, my sister and I were both at college and living in London, but still going back to mum and dad’s latest home for Christmas. By the time Father Christmas had finally worked out where we were, the pubs were shut.

No such sagas for our lot – we’ve only moved once so far since the children were born – so tonight the little ones will be tucked up with a pop-up edition of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas ( now on its twentieth Christmas Eve outing, supplemented, at my insistence, by my favourite, Eloise at Christmastime, the everyday story of Christmas in a five-star New York hotel ( Sweet dreams – and Merry Christmas!


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