It was an enormous responsibility, I felt, ensuring that Santa did “Stop Here!” Here being Home for Mr B and me - but not for the Trio of Rampaging Rascals who had every reason to be concerned that Santa might
not have received the message about their whereabouts on Christmas Eve loud and clear.
I did my best. I bought a “Santa please stop here!” notice (£1.99
from the newsagents) to stick in the flower pot on the front door step, and a door mat with a similar entreaty printed upon it (£2.99 from the hardware shop.) I am, as you are doubtless marvelling to yourselves, the Last of the Big Spenders.
Christmas Eve with a trio of Small People is truly magical. A trip to the Magical Christmas House in nearby Windermere Crescent to see the brilliant display of Christmas
lights raising money for the local Air Ambulance put us firmly in the Festive Mood; on the way back, the Trio were excited to point out that the strings of blue lighting decorating the house next door but two to ours bore a quite striking resemblance to a
rhinoceros. An unlikely addition to the usual Christmas decorations, you will agree. I’m not sure it will catch on - I doubt if Rudolph (of the red nose) need fear for his pole position on sleigh duty.
The Middle of the Darling Daughters is a subscriber to one of the newer traditions, that of Christmas Eve boxes - though this year, on failing to find where she had hidden the boxes after last Christmas, she resorted
to using three small bags I had sewn for the Trio a couple of years back. Tucked within were new pyjamas, sparkly reindeer food, and personal letters from Santa who seemed to know a great deal about each child’s life, enabling him to spin a little homily
aimed at each child, gently suggesting areas of improvement in their approach to life (“no whingeing and moaning - and absolutely no screaming...” Tala’s letter read.) The Trio were too busy trying on their new pyjamas to take much notice
of this sound advice. Me? I was just grateful to see a carrot emerge from each of the bags as I had completely forgotten to buy any. What would I have done, had Rudolph and Co refused to visit our house on account of a Serious Carrot Malfunction?
It may have been the stop sign, the doormat, the reindeer food or the carrots - but, whatever, when we woke up on Christmas morning, he had been. He always comes. Young Faris
woke for the first time at just after three a.m. and he’d already been then. I’m still not quite sure how the Middle of the Darling Daughters persuaded him back to sleep. Faris the Rascal, I mean, not Santa, don’t be silly - he had many more
chimneys to negotiate before his work was done.
Considering this was supposed to be my Pared Down Christmas, it’s difficult to see what we actually missed
out on. My favourite, among so very many favourite moments, was early in the morning, sitting in bed surrounded by children, discarded wrapping paper, small and mostly useful stocking presents - my daughter, it seems, takes after me in the advice she dispenses
to Santa’s elves - every present seized upon with squeals of unrestrained delight. Never were new toothbrushes given such a rapturous reception.
was delicious; the wind-up penguins in each Christmas cracker tottered in all directions as we tried to race them across the table between courses; we even managed a (relatively) peaceful twenty minutes over glasses of port and the cheese board at the end
of our meal. That’s the M of the DD’s favourite part of Christmas dinner and didn’t she deserve it after all her sterling efforts in my kitchen. Our present of a table top puppet theatre and puppets looks set to provide hours of entertainment
- the only thing the Trio worried about was the size of our Christmas tree which, they all agreed, was rather small. Small and perfectly formed, I told them, and I liked it that way, I told them stoutly. They nodded, slowly, in doubtful unison.
Christmas Day - Day One of my Pared Down Christmas. Thanks to a Darling Daughter and a Trio of Rampaging Rascals it was, like the original Mary Poppins, Practically Perfect
In Every Way.