I love Christmas Eve, who doesn't ? My Christmases are a far cry from what they used to be though.
Before I met Ayden and had Phoenix my Christmases were woeful. I worked every day at panto, often staying away. I'd then drive home to have only Christmas Day off. I lived with a miserable man who often stayed in bed all Christmas Day while I did my VAT as there was not much else to do. He hated any family or friends to come over and if I tried to cook Christmas dinner, he complained about my cooking. I would barely get any presents from anyone and then I'd be driving back to work early on on Boxing Day morning, to a lack lustre audience, as I tried to bounce around the stage being falsely happy.
But, I escaped. Rescued by a knight in to the magic of living with love in your heart, surrounded by positive people who love you so much, you could fly St Nicks sleigh from the magical joy it brings you.
And that's the difference, living with a great deal of love in our lives is what Christmas is all about. Indeed that is what life is all about. I recently interviewed Shane Lynch for this blog (you can read all about that next week) but one thing I can give away that he said was, look around you and if you are lucky enough to be with your family this Christmas make the most of it because you are a long time alone once you are in the ground.
Christmas Eve is the one night of the year when expectations are so high there's a buzz in the air and peace in our hearts. It's a strange kind of collective peace, where we all appreciate each other as we get ready for something lovely. Even though Christmas is really just one day. It's one day where we can forget our troubles, leave our diets in the salad bowls and treat ourselves and each other to something a little bit wonderful. It's a day to say thank you for being alive in this fabulous world. A day to stop and think about all that we have, rather than what we have not. Christmas is a time to feed the soul and prepare for the New Year to come by showing the people we care about, just how much we do care. There's no room for selfish on Christmas day just joy and so on Christmas Eve we wait, the house is tidy the presents are wrapped, the food is in the fridge and magic is in the air.....
Twas the night Before Christmas When all through the house Not a creature was stirring Not even a mouse
I wanted to look at some of this most magical of poems because I wanted to capture the essence of all that is wonderful about Christmas Eve in tonight's blog.
Of course the truth is on the Christmas Eve, the children aren't stirring for fear of Santa seeing them awake. Whereas, us parents on the otherhand are freaking out about presents and Rudolf and not sleeping very well at all!
I know my mum was always panicking that burglars would come and steal our presents once Santa had delivered them, when we were small. She couldn't bare the thought of having to explain to us, that although Father Christmas had been and delivered the gifts, some absolute bastards had come and St Nicked all our toys. She has passed this fear on to me and I know for the next 20 years I won't be able to sleep on Christmas Eve....
The stockings all hung By the chimney with care In hopes That St. Nicholas Soon would be there
I think there has been a rebirth of stocking as I know when I was a kid in the 80's we didn't have stockings at all. I suppose children get so many toys nowadays that the stocking can't take the strain. It is something I'd like to introduce to Phoenix though when he's a little older next year as it is pretty magical.
The children were nestled All safe in their beds While visions of sugarplums Danced in their heads
Well, not so much sugar plums now, gone are the days when children will get excited about sugar plums. I think instead they have visions of many many toys - but the effect is the same. If we could harness all the excitement of the children on Christmas Eve we could probably fuel the planet until the end of time. Maybe that's why Christmas Eve feels so different to all other nights of the year. The collective excitement rushes around the planet creating a magical force almost as strong as a parents love.
And mom in her kerchief And I in my cap, Had just settled down For a long winters nap
Oh, I would love to see Ayden in a night cap! In reality though we will be glad to get Phoenix asleep by midnight so we can treat ourselves to a snowball and sort all his presents out before falling in to bed together shattered.
When out on the lawn There arose such a clatter I sprang from my bed To see what was the matter
If Father Christmas wakes Phoenix with a clatter, I'll be having words and no doubt find myself on the naughty list!
Away to the window I flew like a flash Tore open the shutters And threw up the sash
The moon on the breast Of the new fallen snow Gave the lustre Of midday To object below
Aaaar, if only it would snow on Christmas Eve! That's the dream isn't it? For it to snow on Christmas Eve as we all sleep. Snow all of Christmas Day and Boxing Day so we can go out Sledging and then clear up for the 27th December, so we can go out and visit family and friends before the New Year.
There is something magical about freshly fallen snow. It's like it resembles the New Year. Beautiful and sparkly white, all laid out in front of us. Crisp and un-spoiled by the footprints of time, with expectations of what we can create.
Looking at the stats I was surprised to see how much it has snowed on Christmas Day in the last 50 years. Here are the years it did snow in the UK:
The coldest Christmas day recorded ever was, -18.3'c in 1878 and the deepest snowfall was in 1981 in Perthshire where 47cm of snow fell.
I actually thought it was a lot less than that and sadly this year it's the bookies who win at the Christmas Day Snow game, as it is set to be mild and windy. Boo to the lack of snow. We must save our wishes for it to come to us next Christmas or maybe we will be lucky and get a sprinkling of snow on New Years Eve.
When what To my wandering eyes Should appear But a miniature sleigh And eight tiny reindeer
With a little ol driver So lively and quick I knew in a moment It must be St. nick
I have a memory of seeing St Nick on his sleigh in the sky as a child and many adults I know have some vision of seeing him. Of course we couldn't possibly have seen him but I wonder if the collective imaginations of children all over the world on Christmas Eve actually conjure up a kind of phantom of our favourite old man and his reindeer for us all to glimpse at.
Whoever thought of this wonderful tale to enchant children of all ages in the darkest nights of Winter, musty surely be the greatest story teller of all time. It couldn't be more perfect, I don't even think JK Rowling could have created such a magical tale for Christmas Eve. Although actually, I love the Harry Potter Books so much I imagine she probably could have.
Christmas is about love and children. A time to feed their imaginations so that they know how magical life can be. So that they know they are special and so that they laugh and smile even more than they usually do. Teach your children to have only positive people in their lives and appreciate what they have. Christmas is a great reminder that we should always show the people we love just how much they mean to us and it's about just how magical this planet of our can be when we are all collectively grateful for each other.
But I heard him exclaim As he drove out of sight Happy christmas to all And to all a goodnight
Merry Christmas to all of you. May your visions of sugarplums be strong tonight and may your children get all they wanted from Santa. And if like me you believe you might be on the naughty list, worry not. Father Christmas isn't the judgemental old grump we tell our children he is. He's never failed to deliver at least one present to me yet and there have been some years when I know I was definitely a very bad girl!