Finally Christmas really feels just around the corner. Today we decorated our tree, and somehow the ancient ritual smoothed the path to the clearing of Christmas. It started with tidying up my ridiculously untidy sitting room, moving to the second Act of rummaging in the dusty loft for the ancient box of decorations clawed to death by the three cats of the house. The last Act is always finding those lovely baubles which we forget every year only to be reminded just how glorious they are when they come out. Characters from childhood, and even the glittery ones we made the year my husband and I split up and we had no Christmas decorations from our marriage so we made them from shiny paper and ribbon. They, of course, because they are the oldest have the most special memories. Memories of the first Christmas we had as a new family.
And the finale? Getting the tree out of its box. Yes, climate change guilt hit our household last year and my tree is now a plastic one which looks as good as it did last year.
And you know what? In some ways, it is even more fun than putting up a 'real' one. Ours comes with a main stem and branches which are colour coded and need to be slotted into the main column. That means we all have to help which makes it a genuinely co-operative occasion. Eldest daughter insisted on decorating the dog with fairy wings and tinsel, twin one slotted in the branches and twin two was winding the lights around the branches. Mother Minerva, meanwhile, was engaged in the age old ritual of checking the lights, discarding the broken ones and untangling those curly green wires. Mince pies heated in the oven combined with crisps completed our happy picture.
Now even our dingy hall is smiling with fairy lights curving from door to door, tinsel garlanding our pictures and that wonderful tree shining like a beacon of hope and happiness through the windows.
I am so close I can smell Christmas in the air, see Rudolph's nose pointing to London and if I listen very closely, hear sleigh bells in the wind.