At the very end of the Christmas Show, snow falls down on us from on high.
Not real snow, you understand, but it's white, wet and very cold so it's almost the same as
the Real Thing. While My Boy, the Darling Daughter-in-Law and I are holding out our hands and marvelling at this most special of Special Effects, I can't help noticing that eight year old Samuel and six year old James, in the row in front of us, are pulling
on their coats and hats, so sheltering from the unforeseen elements. When did they get to be so sensible, so practical - so unlike the grown-ups in their lives?
Oh, we did enjoy the show! Better than a normal
panto, the Darling Daughter-in-Law pronounced. Lots of well-known and catchy Christmas songs we could sing along to, a brilliantly scary Jack Frost whose every gesture sent laser beams shooting across the auditorium, and a bevy of colourful characters including
all of Santa's reindeer, a chorus line of singing, dancing penguins, a couple of polar bears - and a Father Christmas so realistic that I am prepared to concede that he may just have been the Real Thing. A friend of the Baldwin family was one of the four dancers
so we were on the lookout for her whenever she took to the stage.
We'd booked rather late and I was a bit worried what our seats would be like - but they were just fine. We grown-ups sat behind our three young
charges which sounds like an abrogation of responsibility but which worked so well that I think I will book seats in two rows another time. We'd worried that Young Morgan, at two and a half, might be a bit too young for a full-length show but he proved us
all wrong. Nor did he constantly ask for a trip to the loo, unlike his cousin Hazel at the same age. Each time I traipsed to the Ladies with her, she would cling onto my hand tightly and say, determinedly: "I AM being good in Jack and the Beanstalk!"
Yes, we have taken Team Baldwin and the Swift Girls to lots of pantomimes over the years, but this is a first time the Little Welsh Boys have visited us in panto season. Oh, yes, it is! The pantomime however, was only
one of the delights of our Second Christmas with the Welsh Contingent.
We had travelled into town to Panto Land by bus, Sam, James and I. I am never absolutely sure whether the boys really, really
want to come on the bus with me or whether they are worried that I will be lonely if I travel alone. James spends the journey playing with our present, a rather clever wristwatch which takes photos, records voices and presents the wearer with all kinds of
information. Oh yes, and it tells the time too. "It keeps me entertained," James tells me, seriously, "but it doesn't distract other people." I recognise this as a gentle side-swipe at his older brother who has brought his yo-yo with him and has to be warned,
from time to time, not to accidentally hit people with it as they get on of off the bus. "Diolch!" the boys tell the bus driver as we aIight. It's Welsh for "thank you" - I only hope the bus driver understands Welsh...
There was mulled wine on our return from the panto, a Second Christmas Dinner, an evening of games for the grown-ups over cheese and biscuits, chocolates and a bottle of port. On the previous day when the family arrived, there had been stockings to
"They're only small presents," I warned the boys, lest expectations might be sadly dashed. Sam was philosophical: "I think it's a good thing they are small presents," he confided, "because we have already
had a lot of big presents. It will make a change." Well said, that boy.
I am contemplating, however, in the quiet that surrounds us now that they have all departed for home, that the very best moments about
our Second Christmas had nothing to do with all my carefully laid plans but were all about the boys themselves who are, by turns, funny, quaint and endlessly entertaining.
Young Morgan struts about carrying
a small wooden dagger in one hand and a toy monkey under his arm. He will not be separated from either for very long. Last time I saw him, he sweetly referred to the monkey as "Ooo-Ooo" - now he has grown up so much, it is "Monkey". When I made the mistake
of reverting to Monkey's former name, Morgan eyed me with a look that I charitably interpreted as loving disdain at my lack of verbal coherence.
James plants himself on my lap and proposes that we
talk about something. I suggest that he comes up with the topic for our conversation. "Let's talk about BONES," he declares. Oh dear me, all I can bring to mind on the spur of the conversational moment is that song about Dem Bones, Dem Bones all being connected
to each other . Did I know, James asks me, that our skeletons grow as we do? It would be strange if they didn't, I say, or our skin would hang on our bones like an over-large overcoat. James considers this for a minute or two then says: "Shall we talk about
technology now?" Maybe we should just go back to Dem Bones?
Love, love, love my Little Welsh Boys.
And not only at Christmas.