Why make do with one, when you can have two?
That was my reasoning yesterday, when eight members of the Ball Family gathered
for a “Second Christmas.” Apart from the fact that “he” had already been once, so could hardly be expected to make another midnight visitation, it really was just like Christmas all over again. Just without the four o’clock wake-up
call, the carrot, mince pie and port, and the stockings.
My Christmas table was a little crowded, what with my insistence on having both crackers and crowns gracing
each place setting. There was scarcely room for the food I was so lovingly preparing. I had spent the whole of the previous evening cutting out 80 shapes from last year’s Christmas cards (yes, I keep them just for such eventualities)
ready to be stapled into crowns to adorn each dear head. When the Middle of the Darling Daughters arrived for the Second Christmas, she soon found herself pressed into action wielding the stapler as we struggled to finish decorating the festive table before
everyone else arrived.
I like to think that everyone comes because they want to see me – but, to be honest, Young Faris was this year’s Star Attraction.
His cousins, Katie and Eleanor, had been texting his mum imploring her to ensure that he was wearing his Santa outfit for the occasion. As ever, she was happy to oblige, especially as she had already decided that was what he was going to wear. Well,
it was Santa or an elf – but Santa won the day. He usually does.
Considering he has never experienced Christmas before, Faris was in fine form,
He wore his Christmas crown on his curly head without complaint. Mr B, who is follically challenged, says it’s OK for Faris because, on account of all those curls, he can’t feel the nasty, sharp, pointy bits (it's those pinking shears that do it)
sticking into his head. The girls dutifully wore theirs during dinner but managed to lose them shortly afterwards. Apart from Faris, nobody seems to appreciate my crowns but they are, after all, a Family Tradition. I was gratified to learn
that the Youngest of the Darling Daughters made crowns for her Christmas Day. I wonder if her crowns were any better appreciated than mine? I must remember to ask her when we meet up on New Year's Eve for the last (but not least) of this year's Festive
After dinner (I think I managed to get it onto the table piping hot) and the ceremonial Opening of the Presents We Hadn’t Opened on the First Christmas,
the girls sang for us. We sat entranced by their beautiful, soaring voices. Katie and Eleanor have been presenting Christmas concerts for us for more years than I care to remember. When they were small, it was quite a production with home-made programmes
and seat tickets. I was reminded of their efforts on the day after Boxing Day, while we were still in Wales and the Little Welsh Boys presented the World Premiere of the puppet play “The Day Prickle the Hedgehog Cancelled Christmas.”
We had been practising since Christmas Day when the boys had opened up one of our cheerfully-wrapped, Sellotape-secured, parcels to find three glove puppets - and the
play. There is a great photo of all three puppets during one particular rehearsal. You can’t see the boys who are hiding under the table, holding the puppets aloft, as true puppeteers should, but most of my body is still in the photo, as I couldn’t
quite manage to bend down far enough to hide under the table and so remove myself from the picture. You can't see my head,mind you, just most of my dressing gown and my reindeer slippers.
Like the Swift girls, all those years ago, the boys made tickets which they sold for 5p in toy money, collecting the money in an empty Christmas pudding box. Sam announced the title of the play. James told everyone to
turn off their mobile phones. Eleanor made much the same announcement at one of the girls' concerts several years ago, but added: “...and NO photographs!” eliciting an agonised “But we must be able to take photos!” from her mother who
always has her camera at the ready.
Half way through the puppet play, Sam announced a brief interval for refreshments. He and James trotted off to the kitchen
to find an apple (James) and an orange (Sam.) The audience just had to sit and watch while the puppeteers enjoyed their refreshment break...
I will certainly be
remembering this year’s Second Christmas for a long time to come. Love and laughter, fun and food. I will remember Young Faris's reaction to his knitted Father Christmas, as he tried to work out who was pretending to be whom. I will remember Eleanor
opening the largest of all this year's Christmas presents (do you recall me telling you how I had to travel home with it on the bus?) A suitcase, if you are wondering what. I will remember Katie, who at sixteen is old enough to become a "Jolly
Girl" and to join me and the Darling Daughters on our annual post-Christmas outing, receiving the framed certificate that announced she was officially TEDOTEDOTMANOATJG. Sorry, no clues!
year, however, I will save myself the trouble of fashioning the crowns. Before Mr B lets out an exultant “Hallelujah!” he needs to know that I have cleverly saved all this year’s crowns and packed them away in the Christmas Box.
Recycled crowns for Christmas 2014! Why did I never think of this before?