Every so often, a person has to face peril - and it is the way in which he or she faces up to such a challenge that demonstrates the character of the person challenged. It might be a sky dive, wing walking, climbing Everest,
white water rafting...
Or, in our case, venturing into the lift to retrieve the Christmas decorations. I had offered to undertake this perilous journey but Mr B was adamant that he was the Man for the Job.
Hence, on our return from our happy afternoon at Delia's playing cribbage, we decided that there was no time like the present and - as every wing-walker or mountaineer we have ever known would doubtless advise us - the fear of fear is greater than the fear
itself. Actually, we don't know any wing-walkers or mountaineers but I seem to remember that mantra about fear was a tenet of the Natural Childbirth classes I attended forty plus years ago.
The other reason
for the urgency was that we have a Christmas party for our Nomination Whist crowd tomorrow afternoon and I wanted us to look appropriately Christmassy. Mr B, knowing how much this mattered to me, was prepared to risk life and limb clambering up into the very
heights of our house. I can only salute him for his bravery.
You are probably wondering why this year was any different from other years, but a few months ago, at the time when the Gas Board was coming to
install a new boiler, one of our Sons in Law and his best friend came over to clear a path in our loft to ease the gasman's access. We knew they had done this - what we didn't know was where the Christmas decorations now resided in our re-organised loft space.
So we pulled down the loft ladder in a state of apprehension and Mr B clambered up, turned on the light and relayed a situation report to me, standing at the bottom of the ladder awaiting instructions from above. We
are not talking The Almighty here, though Mr B would possibly beg to differ. It turned out that the Christmas tree, the wreath for the front door and the box of assorted treasures were all easily accessible. So far, so good. Unfortunately the rather beautiful
decoration which graces our mantelpiece in the festive season had become separated from everything else and was now at the far end of the loft space. What's more, its three candles were no longer with it but wedged in an impossible to reach cavity. I made
an executive decision and instructed Mr B to leave the candles, on the basis that I could always buy some more.
I have to say that I was extremely relieved when Mr B made it down the loft ladder in one piece
as well as being overwhelmed with gratitude that I had not had to make the Perilous Ascent myself.
I then spent the best part of the evening assembling the Christmas tree and affixing all the baubles we have
accumulated over the years. Unpacking the treasure chest is always one of the delights of Christmas preparations. Here are the decorations brought back from the Holy Land by the Middle of the Darling Daughters. Here are the bells made out of dough by Jack
and Hazel when they were knee-high to a grasshopper. Here are the tree decorations given to us by the Swift Girls - "because you always buy us a tree decoration every year, so we thought you should have one in return..." Here is the bauble decorated with Faris's
hand and foot prints, to remember his First Christmas last year.
When the Youngest of the Darling Daughters and her family decorate their tree (we were there to help them with this pleasant task last weekend)
she always plays Christmas music as an appropriate accompaniment. I would like to have done likewise this evening - but Mr B was watching Pointless. It wasn't quite the same.
The finishing touch to our tree
is always the cardboard reindeer, designed and created by Young Jack in Christmas 2007 when he was ten years old. I know it was 2007 because that's the date written on the back of the reindeer. Coincidentally today is also Jack's 17th birthday and Mr B and
I have been thinking of him all day and hoping he was having the best of birthdays. "Do you remember what's on the top of our Christmas tree?" I asked him, when we telephoned to wish him many happy returns of the day and sing the age-old birthday anthem, complete
with harmonies. Jack said he thought he remembered but wasn't going to say, in case he was wrong. "It's your reindeer!" I told him, so sure I was that he would be pleased to hear this piece of information.
was only after I had said goodbye that I wondered if someone who has reached the Grand Age of seventeen would really want to be reminded of his youthful artistic efforts. Was it, perhaps, a trifle embarrassing?
I reassured myself - this was Jack, after all. The kindest and most caring of boys where his Nan and Grandad are concerned. Deep down he will be pleased that we still set his reindeer atop our Christmas tree - and, just supposing he isn't, he will never let
Happy 17th Birthday, Our Jack. You are, indeed, very, very special to your Grandad and me.
As is your reindeer.