Let me take you back about 25 years or more to Christmas eve of my childhood.
The house was full of the smell of the 7ft real Christmas tree that the whole family had been to pick out from a local Christmas tree farm, a few weeks earlier.
The tree was decorated with years of memories, dating back from my dads childhood up to mine, with three other siblings worth in between. Ornaments held together with nostalgia and glitter. The annual decoration took place with the whole family (to begin with anyway). We always had The spinners playing on a huge HIFI system in the front room. The Spinners were a band that my mom and dad went to see one year a similar ilk to Victoria wood, hilarious to adults but perplexing to a 5 years old. A waft of mince pies and mulled wine for the tree decorators danced down the hallway of our Victorian house from which multicoloured foil shapes were draped and stuck to every photo frame.
The excitement from two young children one pre teen and on teenager (who loves Christmas and boasts to still love it to this day!) was electric. Preparation was being done for vegetables for the Christmas dinner, finishing touches to presents and Christmas cards were being written and delivered to neighbours as well as good wishes being exchange.
In the afternoon, my friends from the neighbourhood and school would be invited for a Christmas party. With bright pink and purple sticky out dresses full of glitter spray and tinsel in their hair, girls would pile in, equally full of Christmas excitement and glee.
Party food would be served after a game of pass the parcel and musical statues. Sandwiches and chocolate cake or pizza and sausage roll.
Our grown-up (well, they were to me) neighbours would come round. Two girls that lived next door who my brothers often played with and our parents were often caught the other end of a bottle of wine and a good chat. The girls would put a puppet show on for everyone at the party with their own puppet theatre. obviously this was a huge highlight for us as 5 year olds.
Following the puppet show in the manner of punch and Judy come pantomime, it was time for something that I didn’t think was anything out of the ordinary, until i grew up!
Everyone at the party would dress up as angels in a white dress over their glittery purple number, complete with a tinsel halo. there are photos of us sitting on our long staircase, squeezed in next to each other, sticky faced and wide eyes with anticipation. There must be about 10 of us.
So there we were all ready to go. Coats and hats would be put on and we would all take the 15 minute walk to church and the nativity would gain a cast of 10 angels, who had absolutely no idea what on earth they were doing there or who to follow.
After that we would say our goodbyes and skip home with butterflies in our tummies and the adrenaline of our amateur dramatic début.
When home, the house would be all quiet and warm and the soft glow of the Christmas tree would be standing proud in the front room window. New pajamas would be waiting for me, and early present from the big man in red.
Off I would begrudgingly go to bed.
Of course I wouldn’t be able to sleep. Huffing and puffing for hours on end.
Now, when I was a bit older, I would be put to bed and then woken up and taken to midnight mass. A solemn service, whilst I was full to bursting with excitement.
But, for now I was left sleeping until my older sister would come and wake us all up in the morning. She was so excited. As excited as I was the afternoon before no doubt.
A Christmas like many others experience I would imagine.
My childhood Christmases were magical and exhilarating. The stuff dreams are made of. Something out of a story book. The smells of cinnamon and orange and sounds of happiness and glee resounding around our family home. Complete joy experienced by a very loved child.
On that note, merry Christmas!