We’ve all grown up and moved out, my two younger brothers and I. I’m the eldest, at twenty-seven. The boys are twenty-four and twenty. But every year, we all congregate back at Mum and Dad’s house, our family home, along with my other half and our dog, for a few days, to celebrate Christmas.
The first of us to wake up has to wake everybody else. As we’ve got older, this wake-up call has slipped back from the crack of dawn to around nine o’clock, but it’s almost always my youngest brother, who does the honours.
No matter how old we are, we aren’t allowed downstairs until my dad has been down to check that ‘Santa’ has been. Yes, we still pretend, although we don’t tend to waste a mince pie on Father Christmas these days. My middle brother mostly just rolls his eyes, good naturedly, at our silly traditions.
Every year, Mum says ‘This year, I’m cutting down. I’m going to buy you just a few bits each.’ Every year, we assure her not to worry. Every year, she can’t resist cramming our stockings with chocolate and fillers like she’s done since we were children. Every year Mum just smiles and says ‘oops’.
While we swap presents, the three dogs chase around in excitement, spreading the mess of wrapping and discarded boxes around the house, whilst the cats watch on with disinterest.
Smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, English muffins, bucks fizz, cups of tea and coffee… Christmas breakfast is almost as scrummy as the gargantuan Christmas dinner. And you have to stay up into the early hours of Boxing Day morning, to make sure you have room enough for cheese and biscuits… because Mum’s bought way too much food again.
And then, maybe, after breakfast, we will get dressed. Maybe not. Maybe we will just stay in our pyjamas, eat chocolate and watch trashy TV all day. But that’s ok, because it’s just us.
That’s our Christmas.