Sunday, 18 December 2011
Christmas Come Early
When I was a girl, I never decorated the house for Christmas. I never draped tinsel across the branches of a tree or got lifted high in my Daddy's arms to place a star atop its uppermost branch; and when I went to bed, sick with excitement on Christmas Eve, there was not a shred of Christmas in the house.
There were boxes of wrapping paper strewn about the place, candles on our windowsills, a bag of freshly cut holly in the hall and perhaps a naked tree sitting in a bucket outside the front door. But aside from that it was a mess of half-polished floors, wax-splattered nativity costumes and all the glorious chaos of Christmas Eve.
But when we woke up on Christmas morning, everything was transformed. We woke in the small hours of the morning to a house that smelt of polish and fresh pine, we tiptoed down stairs bedecked with Christmas garlands, through a hallway sparkling with fairy lights and then we saw it: the magnificent tree glittering in all its Christmas glory.
I remember sanding still and silently and soaking up the awe of this Christmas morning magic; I remember sneaking to the top of the stairs before my brothers were awake to catch my first glimpse of the tree; I remember being too enthralled by the magic of the moment to care about opening my presents, and even all these years later, the memory of waking to a world that had been transformed into a wonderland whilst we slept brings a shiver of magic to my soul.
As Christmas never arrived in our house until Christmas morning itself I have difficulties with decorating in early December. I hold off bringing the box of decorations down from the attic, I delay the day when the tree gets brought in from the cold and I feel almost guilty if the house starts glittering in its Christmas finery long before Christmas itself.
But this weekend, in a world where distant hills wore thin capes of snow and puddles creaked against the constraints of their first icy caps, we journeyed out to find our tree, and bring it back into the warmth of our home.
We erected it whilst our boy slept and watched sleepy awe and wonderment wash over his face when he entered the room and saw it.
And even though it wasn't Christmas morning, gifts weren't piled high beneath it and there wasn't a faint smell of stuffing in the air, there was a magic in that moment nonetheless.