Growing up my parents didn’t have much money, but my Dad had about as much imagination as it was possible to have. In many ways he was a great Dad, he made us laugh ridiculously hard on a daily basis. At Christmas time he sprinkled his special brand of magic around the house.
In scenes unheard of these days, our house did not have a single decoration up until Christmas Eve. My brother and I would toddle off to bed, leaving the house as it always was, save for a few Christmas cards dotted around the lounge.
Christmas morning would come, we’d tumble out of bed to find stockings hanging on our doors. We’d either sit together conspiratorially in one of our bedrooms and open our stockings together, or open them separately, then compare notes.
But under no circumstances were we allowed downstairs. If one of us did creep down for a look, there was nothing to see. Father Christmas had used his magic rope to tie the lounge and dining room doors shut and only my Dad was able to open it. If we gained entry without our parents, we were sternly warned that all the presents would disappear. No one wanted that!
Once my parents were awake (or awoken at some hellish hour) we were allowed into the lounge. The door would swing open and we’d burst in all excited. Father Christmas had put the tree up and all the decorations while we were in bed. Not only that but under the tree were presents for everyone. It was a Christmas miracle!
What I now know and realise is, it wasn’t Christmas magic, it was my Mum and Dad working their arses off from 8pm decorating the house, wrapping the presents and starting to prep the Christmas dinner. No wonder they looked extra awful come Christmas morning and no wonder when after only having 2 or 3 hours sleep they were less than overjoyed at having two excited children bouncing on them until they got up.
They were legends, their Christmas Eve efforts made everything much, much more magical and realistic for us. So I was determined to inject some magic and mystery into our family Christmases.
I’d love to do what my parents did, but that’s an incredible amount of hard work very late in the day. Plus a lot of people think you are stark raving mad if you’ve not fully decorated your house by the 1st December these days. So we’ve struck a balance.
On Saturday we went to Wythenshawe Community Farm and bought our tree, a very handsome 7 footer. We propped the tree up in a cool corner in the kitchen with a promise to decorate it tomorrow.
That night he had an early night, so we sprung into action. The Christmas tree was put into position, decked with lights, baubles and treasured decorations. The mantlepiece was decorated and our stockings hung up, lights and garlands were strung everywhere.
We were exhausted, but the house looked lovely. Our last act was laying out some decorations and a note from Elfie our Elf on the shelf saying she’d not had chance to finish decorating the tree and could the small boy put the last few decorations on.
Morning came, he woke us up and we all went downstairs (hubs sneaking down first to put all the lights on). The small boy walked in and was stuck dumb with wonder. He jumped up and down and said “the tree, the tree!” And then inspected everything with a look of pure joy on his face. After a few minutes he said “is it Christmas time now?” And my heart melted.
THAT is what Christmas is all about. We found true Christmas magic on Sunday morning. He’s utterly delighted that Elfie decorated the tree and we love that we’ve created some actual, real magic for him.
Christmas isn’t about presents, giving and receiving, or vast turkeys wedged in the oven. It’s about magic and love. It’s a beautiful thing to believe in magic, because it does happen, even if it’s manufactured by exhausted parents. Merry Christmas x