There is a little boy at the side of the bed. Can we put the reindeers water out? Tomorrow is Christmas Day.
I am not cross that I have been woken a little earlier than I would have liked. There are things to do. Not too many, but enough to fill the day.
The mister has already – yesterday – scrubbed the bathroom and mown the lawn. I have vacuumed the study and the hall. The children’s bedroom is a mess and I think but it will only get worse. We need to sweep the verandah and get the grevillea in. It will die if it stays in that pot.
At lunchtime, we will open the ham. The ham is vacuum-packed and has a calico bag. It is kept in the fridge at the back (plugged in on Friday afternoon). The ham comes every year. A building industry gift. People laugh – vegetarians with ham – but they gobble it up and say that’s good. The mister and I sneak pieces on Christmas night, then again on Boxing Day. FirstCat wants a piece of ham (I’m organic, not vegetarian). We said we’ll open it on Christmas Eve and you can have a slice for lunch.
Is it lunchtime yet?
I am on salads and dessert, so there is not much more cooking I can do. I will make the pesto (almond) and the dressing (sesame oil). Everything else is best done fresh. There will be a lot of Chinese cabbage left. I only need five leaves, but they weren’t selling them in halves. The bombe looks less glorious than it should and I’m worried about the meringue. How wrong can ice cream go?
The bubbles of red are chilling and there’s white for just in case. My brother will bring the beer. We will get the ice in the morning. Is it ten the bottle shops close?
The phone has rung once this morning and now twice. I had better ring my grandfather to let him know he’s with us for lunch and around the corner for tea, but the phone call must be timed. His memory is not what it was, and phone calls worry him. He rings back moments later to confirm and then again because he has written it down, but can’t remember that we spoke. He leaves messages if we aren’t here. It is a hard to line to tread. The one between patronising and what’s best. I will ring him soon.
Can you watch me on the trampoline, can we see the reindeers yet? Not yet, my love, not yet.
There’s the tent to check. First aid kit is still on the list, but mosquito nets is not. The batteries all need to be recharged. Remember what happened last trip? We have roofracks fitted to the car.
First text of the day to the granny who lives far away. Dear Nana Do you have your bucet ful of water and are you wating for your presents. We will ring her tomorrow and probably this afternoon and perhaps tonight. I told her the other day I’m making the bombe, the one you taught me. And she said really and I said yes. She said I was just looking at the crystal tree, the one you gave me last year. It was the best present I gave anyone.
I went to the advent carols service and am planning for Christmas Eve. I go – when I do – to the Pilgrim church in town and if you asked me, I couldn’t tell you why. I will catch the tram, and the tree in Victoria Square – lit in white – will make me think of Christmases that haven’t been. They’re cheesy, but I like Christmas lights.
I’m making cupcakes with my boys. The secret ingredient: almond meal. Tomorrow morning, in the quiet hours after the presents and before my nephew arrives and before we pick my grandfather up, we will ice the cakes in a shade of green which I hope is delicate. Depends who puts the colouring in. There are jaffas to balance on top.
There are presents to finish off and a mountain to wrap. We have painted canvases, put fabric paint on undies. There are glittery cards all round. The mister’s present is fabulous and I am hiding it in the boot. I don’t know where mine is. SecondCat has done his best, but secrets are hard when you’re four. We have made you a wheelbarrow he says in the way he has been taught. We’ve got you a washing machine. Oh, I say, then he says no, it’s a beautiful vase. FirstCat tells him off, the mister laughs.
At some point today – perhaps around four – when the list of things to do stretches longer than the time, the mister and I will argue about priorities and how things should be done and how they should have been. It will not last long. Tomorrow is Christmas Day.
Happy Christmas all.