It may be on account of the fact that I am preparing for a Pared Down Christmas this year but I have suddenly become unduly fascinated in other people’s Christmas traditions. Every time I have a conversation with
friends or relatives, I manage to turn the discussion onto my current favourite subject. I mention this so that, should any of you be planning a visit, you can come prepared for an inquisition.
These are the issues that are engaging my attention: firstly, is it Stocking, Sack or Pillowcase for you? That sounds like a new version of Rock, Paper, Scissors, doesn’t it? If I find a spare moment between now and
whenever, I will try to invent some rules. Or, possibly, I won’t.
It is an important distinction, saying something about Santa’s munificence or otherwise
- frankly, you can stuff a great many more presents into a sack than a sock. When My Foursome were young’uns, they borrowed two pairs of their father’s football socks - a red pair and a white pair - for hanging up on Christmas Eve. This followed
the tradition of my own childhood; I really had no idea that not everybody did the same. When My Boy spent his first ever Christmas away from home, I sent him a Do It Yourself Christmas Stocking, complete with numbered parcels and a sheet of instructions.
These included the advice to “Wake up at least three times during the night and ask ‘Has he been yet?’” Yes, indeed, enclosed in the package was one of his father’s red football socks. Now I come to think of it, I’m not
sure he ever gave it back...
Having checked out the Stocking v Sack v Pillowcase situation, I then move onto another important distinction - when do people open
their Gift Laden Receptacles? Early in the morning, while still in bed? Once up and dressed, but before breakfast? After breakfast? Does the whole family crowd round in their dressing gowns and Early Morning Faces to watch the Young’uns check out Santa’s
Here I must confess that when Our Foursome were young, Mr B and I used to let them get on with the business of opening their stocking presents while we
snatched another precious half-hour in bed. In our defence, we had almost always not been able to get to bed before two in the morning by the time the last of the four had given up listening for sleigh bells - and the first of the four would be awake by four
in the morning...
Here’s another thing: what presents constitute the Ideal Stocking / Sack / Pillowcase? When I was working as Santa’s Elf, I found
this question the trickiest part of the Christmas Equation. The socks / stockings I filled contained such seasonal essentials as toothbrushes, new tights, socks and underwear, notebooks and pencils for school, possibly - oh, the excitement! - a geometry set.
My Little Sister, who also served her time as one of Santa’s Elves, was far more imaginative than I. It’s only now, through the Distance of Years, that I wonder whether - on the many Christmases our two families spent together - my children may
have looked at their cousins’ gifts and wondered if Santa had discriminated against them. I did test out this theory on them - but they all loyally asserted that they remember only the excitement of ripping open the presents and finding a tangerine wedged
in the toe of the sock - a sure sign that they had reached the last of Santa’s gifts for another year.
Which brings me to another thought: is “He“ Father Christmas or Santa Claus in your house? He was always Father Christmas when I was small, and remained so when my Foursome were young. Yet, looking back through today’s Daily Blog, I see I have referred to “Santa”
throughout - when did I start doing that, I wonder? Have I inadvertently changed one of my family’s age-old traditions?
Be that as it may, I know that on
Christmas morning my mobile phone will start pinging with messages, all proclaiming, excitedly: “He’s been!”
Whatever name he goes by, he’s