New Year's Day - and we are playing my favourite NYD game. It's called "Spot Other People's Christmas Presents".
There is nowhere better to play this
game than Worthing Seafront on a brisk but sunny morning, with the waves crashing onto the beach, and the World And His Wife walking along the prom, prom, prom.
If you haven't ever played Spot Other
People's Christmas Presents yourself, then I thoroughly recommend it. It does not require a dice, or playing cards, not even pen and paper. There is no scoring. Nobody wins - but, then again, nobody loses either. The perfect game for New Year's Day. (You can play it on Boxing Day, too, but for maximum effect, I favour New Year's Day.)
So picture us this morning, Mr B and I, all wrapped up against the elements and sauntering
along the prom, keeping a close eye out for Other People's Christmas Presents. I can report that while we may, apparently, still be in a recession, or a double dip, or clinging onto the edge of a fiscal cliff - this perilous state does not seem to have impacted
on Christmas sales of bicycles, scooters, roller skates, doll's prams / pushchairs and skateboards. Certainly they were out in plenty on Worthing prom this morning.
Here's a determined young man, all
of four years old by my calculation, frowning in concentration from underneath a cycle helmet that looks at least two sizes too big for him, wobbling wildly across the pavement in front of us. His parents watch with proud smiles as their Action Man swerves
across our path. We look at each other. No words are needed. "Christmas Present!" we both think.
Here's a Little Princess. We know she's a Little Princess because we can see the silky Snow White gown
she's wearing under her puffa jacket. The tiara is a bit of a give-away, too. "Christmas Present!" we nod, silently, to each other. She's pushing a dolls pram, too, all shiny and new (though the inhabitant of the pram looks like Last Year's Christmas Present.
You can tell I am well-versed in this game - not everyone would be able to distinguish the date of Christmas Presents in this way.)
Here's a couple walking their dogs - complete with snazzy new tartan
jackets to match their leads. Christmas is for Dogs as well, you know. And for the grown-ups too - you should see the number of brightly-coloured scarves, gloves, boots, hats and handbags all screaming: "I'm new!"
Everyone we meet, it seems, is playing the game.
A few hardy types have opened up their beach huts and are sitting outside them, nursing large mugs of steaming tea or coffee, and pretending that the
winter sun is as warm as a summer's day. We have our regular discussion about whether it would be A Good Thing to own or rent a beach hut of our own one day. I say yes. Mr B says no. I can't see it happening, somehow...
Someone has placed a Christmas garland and several bunches of flowers on one of the seats along the prom. We stop to read the inscription to "Jenny" who died this year aged only 54. We think about the unknown family and friends
for whom this will be the first Christmas without their Jenny. It's a reminder, if we needed one, that Christmas 2012 will not have been as happy for others as it has been for us.
But the sheer joy
of watching Everyone Else excitedly giving their presents a first airing is contagious. We're smiling as we walk back to the car. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see someone looking closely at my beautiful new woolly scarf and gloves.
"Christmas Present!" did I hear her say?