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A Christmas Stack of Books

Christmas Stack of Books

Well here we are again, Christmas is looming and I haven’t finished my planning yet, never mind the shopping.

I came to the conclusion years ago that whatever happens Christmas will arrive in one form or another. We are lucky in that there will be enough food even if I have forgotten to buy something. There will be turkeys and chestnuts in the shops despite dire warnings of no food and nothing being available.

Like many families, we have our own traditions. One of which came from my parents. A book at the bottom of the bed is one I continue to follow. According to my mum, this was not done for educational purposes or attempts to broaden the mind. This was instigated in an attempt to keep us occupied even for five minutes more so they could get some sleep.

I expect many parents can relate to that. Come Christmas Eve by the time some toys are assembled it can be late enough. More time is lost locating those presents that were oh so carefully hidden in that secret hiding place. Only both that well-chosen spot and the presents seemed to have disappeared from memory.

When we bought the woolly Christmas stockings years ago the bells seemed such a nice wee addition. We hadn’t thought that one through properly. Sneaking into bedrooms to retrieve and fill them when a child is likely to wake up at the merest sound is not easy. Going back into the room with the sock filled up is asking for trouble. One hand could muffle a wee bell, unfortunately, there were four attached. As the years went past it didn’t matter so much if the bells tinkled but of course, by then they had long fallen from the stockings anyway.

The next thing on the pre-bed list on Christmas Eve is the Father Christmas or Bodach na Nollaig (in our house), gift. It is not the laying out of the food and snack that is the problem. That is done while little ones are awake. Rather it is the eating then scattering about of the crumbs that can cause challenges. Firstly, I hope they wouldn’t attract any mice otherwise the Christmas cake may be in jeopardy. After indulging in this late repass though it is normally followed by heartburn. Who on earth apart from Father Christmas it would appear, manages to eat mincemeat pies and drink whisky at 3.00 in the morning without consequences?

Finally, it is time to make our exhausted way upstairs. Our eyes close we take a sigh and hear the gentle tingling of the wee bells of the bairn's Christmas Stockings as they wake up at some ungodly hour. This is when the secret weapon comes in.

We always had a torch in our Christmas socks. My parents weren’t daft enough to buy a Christmas stocking with bells on it. Any sock would do and hopefully, it would be a clean one. Our torches worked just long enough to find our stockings allowing us to gobble up all chocolates, oranges, and apples stashed inside. The sugar combined with our high spirits meant we reached seismic levels of excitement.

It was then we noticed the book at the bottom of the bed. It was enough to pique our interest. It may have only been for five minutes or so but as a parent who had only just got into bed that five minutes can get you through the rest of the day.

We have followed that tradition, the book at the bottom of the bed. Each year, never mind their age if they are home a book is placed at the foot of their bed. I’ve taken that further now and other young relatives are given a book each year. Well as a writer I feel that it is appropriate.

So some of the books bought at the Nigg Book Fair will be found in stockings or wrapped up for presents this year.

I’m hoping to also find a book under the tree for me. Getting books you are not expecting is something I love. A luxury that someone has taken the time to choose for you. It may not even be in the genre I read most but sometimes it is good to read something different.

I wish you all a healthy and Merry Christmas and time to read, write and indulge in whatever fills your soul.

Nollaig Chridheil a h-uile duine/Merry Christmas everyone.

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