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There’s something very special about those two simple words, isn’t there? A sense of anticipation if you’re a child and mild panic if you’re an adult. Have you so successfully hidden your carefully wrapped parcels that you now can’t find them? How tidy does the house have to be before ‘the big day’. Have you got enough food? (Hint, the answer is usually yes, with bells on.) Will you resist the temptation to strangle the dear children before the big day? Which, obviously, I always have, but there is no denying that children can be just a little difficult the day before the big day.

And so began a family tradition. My husband would bundle both children into the car at about four o’clock and go on a tour of all the local lights while I mopped the floors and vacuumed with the festival of lessons and carols playing softly in the background. I did all the food preparation that I could for the following day and felt Christmas come creeping into the house and, I am not ashamed to admit, enjoyed being on my own.

The children are grown up now, and the festivities centre around family baking to a large degree because we all like to eat well and I like to cook. So today we will be making gingerbread to Delia Smith’s recipe… well, almost. The golden syrup has been swapped for honey and cloves and anise join the ginger and cinnamon to make something that reminds me of my childhood living in Germany. I have a large plastic box full of cutters that I’ve collected over decades so the gingerbread dough is divided into three and the children and I each have a baking tray and produce our masterpieces, just as we’ve done ever since they were old enough to. I shall use the embossed rolling pin my lovely big sister gave me and a simple fluted circular cutter and go for the posh look. My daughter will use the flat house cutters and then decorate them afterwards because she’s doing an art degree so that’s her sort of thing. My son will make Daleks, Tardises and Cybermen because Dr Who is an important part of our Christmas. The kitchen will be warm and bright. There will be German Christmas music playing softly in the background. The smell of gingerbread will ease through the house and Christmas will be here.

Will it be a good one? That rather depends on how you define good. For me, it means that we’re all still talking to each other at the end of it and it’s about family and being grateful that we’re all together rather than how many goodies I can get my hands on.

So I’d like to wish you a Christmas that brings you whatever you want and if that is half an hour’s peace then just remember that you ‘have to check the turkey.’ And the roasties too. Then do as my mum did. Hide your favourite drink and your favourite sweet treat under the kitchen sink and check those as well!

And because it’s almost Christmas, today’s picture is of the Poole Bay Rotary Club Santa Train which tours the streets of Poole and Parkstone in early December to collect money for all those whose Christmas won’t be full of wonderful things. Just as, all those years ago, a baby was born in a manger because there was no room at the inn. So, since being slushy and romantic is my job, may I hope that every single one of us can find room in our hearts for anyone who needs it and believe, always, that happy endings are possible if you’ll only look for them. Have a good one… and remember that it'll all be over when we meet again on Wednesday so that one day doesn’t matter anything like as much as we let ourselves think that it does.

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