Christmas is Coming

Santa Claus

by Margaret Watson

One year someone bet me that I could not buy all my Christmas presents in one shop in August. It took about three quarters of an hour. My brother in law takes even less time.  For some reason he thinks it appropriate to give everyone, even small children, vouchers from the local "do it yourself" store. These I then have to buy off the children and they make good bargainers.

It can be an expensive time, which is why I start preparing months ahead, buying the perfect presents, i.e. cheap and cheerful months, ahead. These are then stored all around this large house in places where I think the others won’t look. The week before Christmas, when I can put off wrapping them no longer, I have a mad panic, search around and find about three quarters of them. Most presents are inexpensive, unless someone actually needs something. This year for instance my oldest daughter is getting a step ladder as she has recently moved into a house with twelve foot high ceilings and she is 4 foot 10 inches tall, which makes it difficult to change light bulbs.

We are Christians, and so look forward to all the various activities involved. The Christmas cake gets stirred in mid November to give it time to mature. During the four weeks of advent we light candles and consider the gift that God gave us in Christ. We go to carol services and sing old favourites as well as learning new songs. The children put on a play of the Christmas story, called the nativity play, and every year we are delighted.

Last year we had ‘The Big Wrap’ when, accompanied by carol singers, members of the church offered a free gift wrap service to late night shoppers. I t was great fun, although very cold, but no one seemed to mind waiting while we blew on our fingers.

On Christmas Eve carol singers go round the wards of the local hospital before returning for coffee and mince pies and the midnight service. The rule in our house is that you are allowed to open one present when we get back at about 2 a.m. Our church includes people of several different races so last year we had a Hungarian and a Romanian to lunch which was different. They sang carols to us in their native tongues.

At some time over Christmas my husband and I take one of the services which we really enjoy planning and usually involves puppets in some way.

And there are a
lways Christmas trees – in our case the decorations must include chocolate coins, sugered almonds and decorations that we made when the children were tiny. It may not be as smart as some trees, but we love it.

I t is a time for the family to get together from various parts of the country. This year my oldest daughter has to work until late on Christmas Eve , but despite being unable to get a train that late she is determined not to miss Christmas morning at home. I am hoping that she will get home in time for the midnight service as it is so special.

Cards are also sent, of course. About 150 in our case. I find that a rather sad time, as every year, when I go through the address book there are a few names that I won’t be sending cards to, as time takes its toll, but it is still great to hear from those whom we haven’t seen for a long time.  It is only early November as I write this, but the first card has already arrived.