Last Christmas

Christmas day I woke much earlier than usual, much as I used to when I was a kid and knew that Santa had visited overnight. The phone rang at about 6.50 and I answered it clear as a bell. It was my sister telling me it was time to come over.

I showered and dressed very quickly. I made a latte to drink on the way. I packed up my bag of presents and bundled an excited Rigby into the car. I was on the road by 7.10.

The roads were dead quiet. It was like a ghost town at that time of morning. Everyone was in their home opening presents with their kids or sleeping in. No work today. The road was covered with little bits of debris from the storms the night before, leaves and blossoms, small twigs. The cloud was low, the early sun filtered by it. I listened to the radio, to Bryan Ferry and INXS forgetting for a moment that it was Christmas day.

At my sisters we had egg nog and a cup of tea. The kids were excited, with Schae, as ever, insisting I sit next to her. They got their presents before we began to hand out the general presents. All throughout this Rigby is panting with excitement, his whole body turning with the shake of his tail. It was Christmas for him too.

We handed the gifts out with the usual smiles and laughter, this time sitting by the Christmas tree in the loungeroom. The kids couldn’t get enough. Rigby got a big bone or two, and I got what I expected. By 10 I was out of there.

At home I dressed in the good stuff ready to head out. Ready early I pottered around after that just wanting to get going. Just before I left I gave Rigby his big bone, which he took to with pleasure and great industry. He lay in his little bed in the garage chewing at the bone before licking at the insides of it.

We went to the Sofitel for our Christmas lunch, at No. 35 on the 35th floor. We had a glass of Mumm on arrival before getting stuck into the buffet. The food was good and there was plenty of it. I went back for maybe 6 helpings. Christmas is about many things, but one of the most traditional I think is making a pig of yourself. Who doesn’t eat way too much on Christmas day? I certainly did.

That was it though really. A jazz duo roamed the room taking requests – we asked for some Bossa Nova – but otherwise it was all about the food, and for the kids the view.

A little after 2 mum started to feel ill. This was always on the cards. By the time we left a little before 3 she was feeling very ordinary. We made it out just in time. Overhead the clouds had gathered in angry grey masses. When I was dropped off at home the first drops of rain were falling. Over the next few hours a great storm erupted, lightning flashing and thunder like distant explosions, and hail at times that left me fearful for my car. It was spectacular and dramatic and great to be home too. I was glad of it. Elsewhere the rain was much heavier and the damage from storm and flood extensive. At home I watched a movie in the evening and looked forward to a thorough sleep in come Boxing Day.

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