On the way to church this morning I played the Christmas Decorations Game.
This bears a close resemblance to the Front Gardens Game which, regular readers may recall,
my little sister and I used to play on the way to school. It involved awarding marks out of ten to each front garden we passed, with Brownie points (or their horticultural equivalent) for colourful flower beds, neatly edged lawns and architecturally beautiful
trees. My sister and I were quite amazingly inventive at thinking up games to play which didn't involve (i) equipment, (ii) rules of play; or (iii) the need to catch anything.
The Christmas Decorations Game
requires marks out of ten to be awarded to each house I pass on the basis of how Christmassy it looks from the outside. Okay, I will concede that just because a house doesn't have a prancing reindeer bedecked with fairy lights on the front lawn doesn't mean
that inside is not a veritable Santa's Grotto. It is, however, all about the passers-by and how much child-like delight and Christmas spirit they soak up on their way along the road. In the interests of fairness, I walked along one pavement on the way to church
and took the opposite pavement on the way home.
I have to say that the overall assessment I arrived at was somewhat disappointing. When you think it is only five more sleeps till the Big Day dawns, I would
have expected more. Had it not been for the large blow-up snowman in one garden I wouldn't have been able to award a single Perfect Ten. I would have been the Craig Revel Horwood of Strictly Come Christmas. I kid you not. In the end, any house displaying a
holly wreath on the door, or a candle in a window was awarded six out of ten, just for taking part. My sister, who was always more of a purist than I when it came to generous grading, might have asked for consultation with the Third Umpire.
At church I collected an Order of Service from the smiling welcomers on the door - only to find, once I had settled myself in my pew (second from the back - I Know My Place) I discovered that I had been given a shortened version,
just the front and back pages. Was this a challenge, I wondered? Was the idea that we would all make it up as we went along? In consultation with Jane, Ian and Anthony who had joined me in my pew, we came to the conclusion that a mistake had been made. We
had been accidentally short-changed by several pages.
This was, however, a mistake that was easily remedied - not so the disappointing feeling of being short-changed by the distinct lack of Christmas Merry-Making
on both sides of the road I travelled along on my way two and from church. But, hey, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. How would my house fare in the Christmas Decorations Game, viewed dispassionately and without bias?
Well, we do have a festive wreath fixed to a nail hammered into the front door by Mr B several Christmasses ago. It's a bit lower down on the door than I would like, ideally, but I didn't like to argue in case Mr B took umbrage. Every
Christmas a few more decorative elements drop off the wreath and it looks just a little more, well, depleted. Anyway, according to my score sheet (see above) we gain six points for our holly wreath, depleted or not.
Plus - and this is important - we have lights in the kitchen window. I turn them on every morning, as soon as I get up, all the more to cheer the way of the early morning dog-walkers, the postman and the paper-boy. I had to invest in a new set this
year because my old Welcome Lights, a (most definitely welcome) gift from my sister, finally gave up the ghost after many years of faithful service. I loved my old lights but the new set, in tasteful silver with candles at different heights, was undoubtedly
stylish and modern. Or so I told Mr B.
So here I am, outside my house, trying to view it through a stranger's eyes - when, guess what? I suddenly notice that the lights on my new Welcome Candles form
the shape of a twinkling star! How come I never realised that when I bought them (price £14.99 from the local hardware store)?
I am so delighted that I give myself a wholly undeserved ten out of ten.