Sunday, 9 January 2011

Friday December 24th – The Magical Eve.

For as long as I can remember, Christmas Eve has been my favourite day of the year. Just look at it out there! You can almost feel the magic in the air. That wonderful sparkle of anticipation is just flaring into a crescendo. Hope is at its highest. It’s like being presented with the most beautiful cake and pausing just a few minutes to imagine all of its rich sumptuous potential.
Unfortunately for me Christmas day is often the discovery that the perfect slice of lemony heaven is actually a little stale and laced with nasty plump sultanas. Oh no! It’s the Nightmare before Boxing Day! That’s not to say I’ve spent the last 30 odd years dribbling miserably in the corner with a string of broken fairy lights around my neck. No, I’ve had some truly delicious slices of Crimbo. I just get horribly over-excited. Well, it’s sort of what I do. I just get horribly over-excited about most things. The problem is that when tomorrow is actually today, I’m simply not ready for it and don’t really know what to do. Well, other than panic and worry about how they should have been better.
In my defence, I have become a lot better about ‘living in the moment’. In the past 18 months I have even been known to stay calm on the odd occasion. However, Hoobiz would say that I still have quite a long way to go. Hoobiz is firmly of the mindset that if you decide to have a good time you will. He has a point, but sometimes I find myself feeling deeply rebellious and resenting the ‘you will celebrate’ directive.
Of course, expectation is a funny thing. At our NCT classes, two of the Mums-in-waiting were due on Christmas day. What fascinated me was that neither used that title. No, their babies were both expected on ‘December 25th’. Perhaps they were already thinking about this annual occasion which would forever require some parcels to be wrapped in snowmen and others in balloons. Maybe this was a conscious effort to make an early distinction. Or perhaps it was just because the expectation that year was so different to cranberry sauce and regal cracker hats. Possibly they were just sick of people saying ‘oh, that’s a bit of a shame’ about their impending joy. It’s been said before, but people really do think that they can say anything to you when you’re pregnant. Anyway, as it happened, one was born the week before and the other arrived just before the New Year.
Last year, Christmas Day was lovely, but then it wasn’t the main event, as The Little Perfect One was due on New Year’s Day.  Or should that be January 1st?  Hoobiz, Bump and I had lunch with Bat, Simona, my older brother Edward and my younger brother Billy. This afternoon we set off for a similar occasion, except that The Little Perfect One is definitely no longer a Bump and Billy is now in Thailand.
We arrived at 1:15pm having intended to get there between 12:00pm and 1:00pm. It’s the only time that Hoobiz is okay with being late. He’s accepted that, when it comes to my family, being late is just part of the culture.
We walked in to find Bat winding and polishing the clocks. I suspect that he had probably not long finished washing the cars, walking the dogs, chopping a few logs and watering the greenhouse. I mean it’s Christmas Eve, so he would have been taking it easy. Simona was busy dancing and manning the phones, whilst baking an assortment of little patties and cheesy whirls.
‘Happy Christmas!’ I said, crashing through the door with a few parcels and half of The Little Perfect One’s ever-expanding ‘away kit’.
‘I’m so sorry we’re late, TLPO had a bit of a slow lunch.’ I said, failing to add that Mummy Marcella also spent too long in the bath and tapping at the keyboard.
‘Oh, don’t worry darling. We are a little bit behind anyway,’ said a beaming Simona, failing to mention that they had just finished breakfast, despite the fact that lunch was planned for 1:30pm.
I think that’s the reason that they are always late. I mean, they do masses, but it’s all in a bit of a curious order. Get up and have breakfast is just not ever going to be as appealing as seeing how many hours of high-speed pottering can be crammed into a morning until hunger demands you stop for the first meal of the day. I might do less, but I think I’ve learned the same trait. I only found this out recently, having previously thought the ‘tardy gene’ would be discovered any day. I noticed that, if I’ve got, say, five things to do I’ll start with the least pressing one. The rather dodgy theory behind this is that I think it will help me to get everything done. In practice, I’ve never done what I really needed to do, but my books are always alphabetised.
We finally sat down to lunch at around 5:00pm, having pottered, played, nibbled, laughed and guzzled in just the right order all afternoon.
Hoobiz and I were showered with a bounty of gifts from Bat and Simona. Of course, we were also given presents from all of the animals, The Table Fairy and The Tree Fairy. I can’t ever seem to leave my parents house without at least three bags of ‘I thought you’d like these’ bits. At Christmas time we really need to take a van.
The Little Perfect one was in his element: cheese straw, music and an adoring audience. However, he has not really been exposed to the ‘opening presents’ experience. For months, people have been telling us that The Little Perfect One won’t really think that much of Christmas this year. ‘No, they don’t really know what’s going on and they are only interested in the lights and the wrapping paper,’ say the experts. ‘No, they find it all a bit much and are definitely more interested in the box than any presents you get them.’
Not a bit of it. The Little Perfect One squealed with delight and applauded furiously when opening a drum from Edward. We had rat-ta-tat-ta-tat for a full 10 minutes before TLPO decided to break for a vigorous chew on the drumstick. TLPO gave the same thorough inspection to every one of his new-found contraptions. He also shouted and applauded the arrival of every new parcel.
TLPO has only recently learnt to clap his hands, which might, in part, be due to that famous song. Yes, I think ‘Wheels on the Bus’ now has a rival for TLPO’s top tune. Yet, I’m okay with it. I mean, it’s quite normal for your children not to share your taste in music.
I suppose the expert people are only trying to help with their ‘babies don’t enjoy Christmas’ routine. Perhaps it’s a way of lowering expectations. However, I’m suspicious that these could be the same experts who, in the next breath, will tell you how Christmas is ‘for the children’. Honestly! What a load of old twaddle! It’s as if happiness was in fact a hormone that ceases to be produced after the age of 18. ‘No, no, you’re 92, it can’t matter to you if you’re cold and alone, especially during the festive season.’ That sort of nonsense really fires up The Rage. It’s like putting an age limit on living, which is far too dark a paradox for me to delve into. Limits be damned!  
La-la-la...‘If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!’
It’s bedtime now, but I’m sure that lunch didn’t finish that long ago, as I can still taste the Stilton. Why is sitting around gorging yourself quite so exhausting? I am so ridiculously tired and full, but it’s all perfect, as today is still the Eve and tomorrow is still just that.

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