It is possible that my Little Sister and I were somewhat over-ambitious in our plans for our Early Christmas Celebrations. There was so much we were going to do and, as usual, we had rather too many Great Expectations.
In our heads, Friday - arrival - was Christmas Eve, Saturday was Christmas Day and Sunday (the last day of The Visit) was Boxing Day. Several holiday companies organise what
are called “Turkey and Tinsel” weekends which operate on a similar Principle of Elaborate Pretence but we had added a few additional activities to remind us of Christmases Past. Among these was to be the creation of Christmas crowns, using old
greetings cards, staplers loaded with staples a-plenty and pinking shears. In years gone by, when our two families enjoyed massive joint Christmases (four adults and seven children spending the whole holiday from Christmas Eve till New Year’s Day together)
the making and wearing of the Christmas crowns was de rigeur. Until the day when every member of both families mutinied, leaving my sister and I to make all the crowns on our own.
Then there was the annual Christmas jigsaw puzzle, spread out over the table to keep us all occupied for the whole holiday. I still remember almost completing the puzzle one year only to find there was not just one, but seven pieces
missing - each of the children, determined to be the one to fit the very last piece, had gone up to bed the night before, secreting one piece of jigsaw in their pocket. My sister brought with her a truly splendid Christmas-Related puzzle, featuring the Big
Man Himself. She also arrived armed with a splendid home-made cake, three different Christmassy head-dresses, two seasonal jumpers and a new game called Quiddler (the Playing of Games being another pre-requisite of a Ball-Sutton Family Christmas.) For my part,
I had planned our meals, including the Full Works for Sunday lunch (there was no way My Stomach, of which, as you know, I Am Always Thinking, was going to be disappointed); looked out my stash of greetings cards from previous years for the Making of Crowns;
and arranged a trip to see the Nativity Festival at my church. Oh, yes, and we needed to watch an appropriately festive film. Or two.
Barrie was in charge of climbing up the loft ladder to retrieve boxes of decorations and the countless twiggy branches of our aged Christmas tree - and standing in solidarity with Mr B in the face of two sisters who never stop talking when they get together.
The Dynamic Duo have just left and it has to be said that there was a lot of unfinished business. We only just about managed to sort out and piece together the straight edges
of the jigsaw which proved rather more tricky than anticipated. We completely ran out of time to even make a start on the Christmas crowns - and I have just discovered that my sister has left behind her stapler and scissors. She has also left behind (though
on purpose) the delicious Christmas cake which we never managed to cut into. The Christmas tree remains unassembled though this was also on purpose because granddaughter Eleanor is coming next Thursday, with her boyfriend in tow, with the express intention
of revisiting the Olden Days when she and her sister, Katie, always decorated the tree with us.
So, we didn’t do everything we planned to do - but,
really, does that matter? Not the slightest bit, I reckon, compared with what we did do. Not compared with the chat about childhood memories, about our families’ fortunes today, about this year’s highlights and next year’s Big Dates (that
is, ones ending with an 0 don’t you know?) We wore our Christmas hats (a small bowler for my sister, a Santa’s Little Helper hat for me) to the Nativity Festival and marvelled at the ingenuity of creations fashioned by imaginative school-children
while standing awe-struck before the beauty of the nativity purchased in memory of a much-loved church member. So many nativities - one special message.
Miracle on 34th Street and Nativity! as well as the Final of Strictly Come Dancing. My introduction to Quiddler was initially tricky but improved in the second game. We were going to play a couple of games every evening but, guess what, we never found the
time. Strange, that...
Finally, on Sunday - also known as Boxing Day - we had Christmas Dinner. Though with lamb instead of turkey and cheesecake instead of Christmas
pud. We pulled crackers, told jokes and ate our fill. It was the very happiest of pre-Christmas celebrations.
We think we may have to do it every year...