Eleanor - who is the third oldest of my five granddaughters but also, coincidentally, the third youngest - is worried about the state of my kettle. It is in desperate need of de-scaling, she informs me, and she and The
Boyfriend (aka Nathan) are just the people to carry out this delicate operation.
No sooner has the diagnosis been reached, the two of them are off down to the
local hardware shop in The Strand to invest in a packet of Multi Purpose Descaler (no fewer than five sachets for just £2.99). This will not only effectively remove limescale from my kettle, but also from my washing machine, my dishwasher, my coffee
machine, my shower head and my iron. It’s a miracle. No, not the existence of a product of such magic proportions but the fact that I have reached such a Great Age without recognising the Importance of Descaling.
It was the second time my lovely visitors had taken themselves down to The Strand. Their first sortie was to the local chippy to but our fish and chip lunch. The weather was so dreadful that Mr B had
insisted they borrow his massive golf umbrella to shelter them on their way. I, for my part, had tried to offer them cash to pay for our food but this (unlike the offer of the umbrella) was stoutly refused. “Think of all the pantomimes you’ve paid
for us to see!” was our granddaughter’s reasoning. I couldn't think of an adequate response...
After our delicious lunch, we set to the serious business
of decorating the Christmas tree, which was, after all, the main purpose for the visit. Eleanor reminded me how much she and her sister Katie used to enjoy the moment when their Grandad (known to you all as Mr B) would retrieve the tree, in its large cardboard
box, from the loft then send it sliding precariously down the stairs to arrive in the hallway where they would be waiting for it.
Today, in the interests
of Easier Tree Retrieval, I no longer store the tree away in its box after Christmas but pack the twiggy branches in large supermarket shopping bags which can be hauled out of the loft more easily. If Eleanor was a little disappointed, she was careful not
to show it.
First task was to sort out the branches according to their length, as indicated by coloured stripes on each branch, before slotting the branches into
the tree trunk. As always there were two branches which didn’t seem to fit anywhere but, this being par for the course, I assured the two Tree Surgeons that this was no big deal. Next came the looping of tree lights around the tree, trying to ensure
a Good Dispersal Of Lights. This used to be Mr B’s job in the Olden Days but he seemed content to watch our visitors take over. It was fortunate, indeed, that the Switching On passed without incident.
Eleanor admired the box within which all the tree ornaments were stored. My task was to unwrap each decoration and explain from whence it came. Here’s the bauble marking Faris the Racal’s first Christmas, decorated
with his footprints. It’s the largest of all my decorations so I advise careful placement to ensure it stays firmly on its branch. Here are the beautiful wooden decorations from Bethlehem, gifted me by the Middle of the Darling Daughters following her
trip to the Holy Land many moons ago - and the pastry shapes made and decorated by grandchildren Jack and Hazel back in 2005 and Jack’s reindeer, amd destined to top the tree as always. Not forgetting several of my more recent Christmas crafty efforts
including the latest - my Scary Angel. If there’s a theme to my 2019 Christmas tree it is probably “Anything Goes”!
Once the tree is decorated,
Nathan (under mostly helpful advice from Eleanor) turns his hand to pinning up more strings for all the greetings cards gathering on my dining room table - after which they cast around for something else which needs attention before alighting on my kettle...
“You wouldn’t be my Nanni if you didn’t come to wave me off!” says Eleanor, as I pull on my coat and shoes to follow them out to the car. They leave
behind a twinkling Christmas tree, strings of greetings cards, a shiny kettle - and an overwhelming feeling of being much beloved.
It was my mum who was the poetry
lover in our family - but my dear Dad had one favourite poem which sums up exactly how I feel:
“Come in the evening or come in the morning.
Come when expected, or come without warning.
Only - come!”
How grateful I am that they