Morning ramble …

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The talk is of Christmas starting early. Last night’s slow dog-plod and I saw three houses with outside lights a-glowing. Apparently we are owed some fun and excitement this year so Christmas can begin in the middle of November (earlier for some). Couple of thoughts –

I am not “owed” anything this year – nor last year not next year.  My understanding of living is that it comes one moment at a time – and I make the most of each moment or I don’t.

My choice.

I was brought up with Christmas Magic as well. Christmas Eve we went to bed knowing that Father Christmas would not only visit to fill our stockings and leave presents – but he would also sprinkle Christmas Dust over our whole home (just ours because no one else could wait that long)! That we would wake up to a Father Christmas Grotto that was OUR home full of decorations and lights and a tree twinkling and magical – that carols would be playing softly in the background somewhere – and the air was filled to overflowing with the expectant hush of suppressed Christmas Magic. Because Father Christmas didn’t just come and go like every other house – he made our house just like his grotto – he magically filled our home with magic not just presents.

None of these words we thought or verbalised then.

Just that we woke in the middle of the night and Santa had been and transformed our whole house! That I had a heavy football sock of goodies on my feet – that I whispered to my brothers/sisters – that we tip-toed out of our bedrooms with baited breath – that we could already see the glow of lights – hear the song of carols – smell the scent of pine! That we were filled with wonder and awe. Daren’t speak above a hushed whisper. Pointed and were pointed to each new sight, sound and smell. The rustle of tinsel in the moving air above a radiator (always left on overnight this one night), the smell of that fresh Christmas tree we hadn’t seen before this exquisite moment, full of lights and sparkling and trinkets and well-loved family bits, the wealth of wrapped presents below the tree … spilling out into the living room and making it feel as though we were all at the North Pole with Father Christmas and the elves!

Those are strong memories filling every sensory sense even now decades later.

Our mum and dad were committed Christians and we went to church each Christmas morning before coming home and getting stuck into “Christmas”. Baby Jesus was in the mix that day – but God was for everyday – Father Christmas just this one magical hushed sensory overload morning every year. I can’t remember many presents other than a (proper) bike one year and a footstool another (“poofs” we used to call them) and that only because I had no idea why Santa would even think I (and all my brothers and sisters) would ever want a poof!

Those Christmases lasted as long as our family was young enough to really believe. And with six children spread over a couple of decades the elder children had to “zip it” for the younger ones.

Mrs Paul agreed we should do the same when we had our first and then second – them old enough to be transfixed by the “Christmas Eve Magic”. It is absolutely knackering! A couple of years we got no sleep at all. But we did that for several years before our four children outgrew the innocence that makes Christmas so very special.

Last night I saw those three houses – three homes – three families that (maybe) outgrew more than just that innocence. Who (maybe) never had that magic. Perhaps never realised that life is full of magic in every moment (if I allow). That every moment is my choice as to whether I see and feel that magic (that we usually know as kindness). That I am owed nothing and if I even think I am then I have chosen not to see magic in each moment. And maybe never realised that only I can see magic in any and every moment.

Perhaps I am wrong. But as a young child I was always sad when the house went back to “normal” after Christmas. The tree was never dry and crackly but still scented and soft. The rooms always looked shabby rather than bigger and cleaner.

Yet now I long for the 5th January to get our home back after weeks of it being not. In recent years we have cleared it before the twelfth day. Sighed with contentment at having our home back again. Yet every year we fight the fight of how early the decs go up!

Downstairs I can hear Mrs Paul stamping and stomping as she does her daily workout. I did 12,500 steps yesterday and have a renewed zeal to make that happen every day. Our home is not free of magic – it is full of family and living magic. Will there be a vaccine? We will see. Will we have a proper Christmas? I wonder whether we have ever had a “proper Christmas” other than in our own minds. What does today have in store? Moments and more moments all free – and all I have to do is notice each one. Be in each one. Make each moment mine.

I got my (shielding) letter yesterday.  Another moment.  A reminder to be cautious still. But no fear. No guilt.  No wrapping myself or those I love this time in sterile suits of untouchable distance. I also went with Mrs Paul to drop-off/collect our wee grandchild from his twice-weekly Playschool.  All of us in a queue and socially distanced.  All “covid-secure” (whatever that means).  But his face when we picked him up … ! 

He spotted me through the window and his face lit up – made a bee-line for the door – had to be told to wait even though “Dah” was there for the first time ever.  And he kept checking me out all the way home just to make sure I was still there. Magic is everywhere all the time.

I hope you find yours today.