Ah, Christmas, what a wonderful time of year. Joy resonates from all directions, homes and streets sparkle with twinkling decorations and it’s such a magical experience for children.
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But despite all the happiness, it never fails to throw up a few snags that might dampen the festive cheer. There’s the obvious financial pressures, the issues of loneliness and isolation if it’s spent alone, not forgetting the logistical issues – you can’t please everyone, especially once you enter into the big wide world of huge families.
Other issues include the bouts of food poisoning, the family feuds and even worse, the fairy light entanglements. Speaking of fairy lights and Christmas decorations in general, brings me on nicely on to our mishap last year…
Like many, Christmas is my favourite time of the year and I will always ensure our house is decorated to a standard the Selfridges’ Window Display Team, would be proud of. Before I was a father, corners could be cut and assumptions could be made. A fresh piece of holly could deftly form part of a decoration without the need for some securing wire or discreet tape. A Christmas tree decoration would go on in early December and unquestionably stay there until early January. Presents wrapped early and placed under the tree would stay wrapped and under the tree until the big day arrived. But throw a pair of cute, little , fascinated and intrigued hands into the mix and such short cuts and assumptions can no longer be made, as we disastrously found out last Christmas.
The decorations in our sitting room had been up for a week or so, with the focal points being the tree and our fireplace. The mantelpiece was wrapped with a homemade garland, dotted with candles that twinkled against the huge gilt-edged antique mirror that rested against the chimneybreast.
Now, because this mirror was so huge and heavy, just resting it on the mantelpiece was absolutely fine during the other eleven months of the year – its weight kind of meant it was immoveable. But oh no, hook a couple of stockings on the swirly cornering and throw an explorative two-year-old into the mix and you’ve got the recipe for a Christmas disaster.
I was out walking the dogs a good mile or so away when I checked my phone. I had 4 million missed calls and 217 trillion WhatsApp messages from my wife Georgia. Bugger, had I forgotten to delete my internet history? I phoned home immediately and Georgia was in a state of panic. Our daughter Edie had tugged at the stockings and pulled down the mirror shattering shards of glass across an area the size of Lapland.
I sprinted (jogged, walked, jogged, put my hands on my knees, walked, jogged) home as fast as I could. My main concern was obviously for Edie but remarkably the mirror had just missed her, otherwise I’m sure it could have knocked her unconscious or worse. Dashing through the backdoor I couldn’t believe the mess. But the mess didn’t matter, Edie was barefoot!
Thankfully she was ok, no cuts or spikes of mirror stemming from her feet, so we picked Edie up and placed her on the sofa away from the dangerous mess and spent the next half an hour or so clearing up. Once the floor was clear I inspected Edie’s feet again just to be sure. Somehow she now had the tiniest cut possible, I mean we’re talking 2mm, but where had that come from? Did a splinter of glass slip into her foot? We were confident she was fine but your instinct as a parent is to worry, so just to be sure, we all piled into the car and headed for A&E. Might seem a bit drastic I know, but you try reasoning with a two-year-old when they now believe they have glass in their foot!
After seeing numerous nurses, doctors and having to literally pin Edie down whilst she screamed, wriggled and writhed during an x-ray on her foot, we were told thankfully that there was nothing in there!
Phew! But it was a dreadful afternoon and one that could have easily been avoided. I felt incredibly guilty, not only had Georgia’s antique mirror been destroyed but more worryingly, Edie had endured an afternoon of poking and prodding in hospital because of my Christmas decorative shortcuts.
I can safely say, this year and every year from now on, every decoration or piece of hazardous furniture will be bolted down so tightly that not even a herd of Santa’s reindeer could pull them loose. If you want that cosy, joyful, disaster-free Christmas we all aspire to, do the same because those tiny, wondering, elf-like hands will definitely examine every enticing decoration within reach!
Merry Christmas – I hope it’s disaster free!