Bitterly cold this morning but for once there were no complaints for today is Christmas Eve. It may sound ridiculous but even at our venerable ages many of us still associate magic with this day of all days. I guess I was about eight years old when on Christmas morning I awoke to find a fort. The war was on and how my parents acquired such a thing I know not but I can still recapture the thrill of surveying my gift from Santa. In some mysterious way that letter had reached the north pole!
An even more poignant memory was regularly related to me over the many years that I used to visit an elderly lady in a nursing home. Sadly she has gone now and I often wonder what became of Jenny. Jenny was a doll and I always noticed her sitting in pride of place on the bedside cabinet. On a Christmas Eve several years ago my friend told me the story of Jenny, her lifetime companion. She used it to illustrate her concern that the most magical night of the year has become “too noisy, for noise destroys magic”
My friend was a lady of self understanding and loved to recall that long-gone night when everything was clothed in snow and she hung up her stocking and put in the hearth a sherry for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph. In those times children expected little in the way of presents but as she went to bed the little girl was told that Santa might bring something very special as reward for all her good behaviour. Sleep was hard to come by and eventually Mum read of ‘Christmas Eve when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse’. As her eyelids became heavy Mum told her to listen for bells tinkling through the frosty calm.
Memory can play tricks but my friend always declared that, as she finally entered the land of Nod, she heard reindeer bells. Then all was quiet. She awoke early and sitting by her bed was the loveliest doll she had ever seen, in fact it bore a remarkable likeness to one she had often admired as she passed the local ‘pram shop’. There and then she named it Jenny and by her bedside it has always remained. Her long life of joys and sorrows were shared by a friend who never waivered.
I had young grandchildren at the time and Margaret always implored me to make a huge effort to help make their Christmas Eve a magical experience. “Only children up to the age of eight or nine can hear the sleighbells and sense the magic” she would say. “Turn off the modern gadgets and listen with them. The years fly by and before you know where you are it will be too late for them to experience something that will last a lifetime” was her final plea.
Tonight also promises to be an icy and silent one. If you have small children do remember Margaret and Jenny. You may scoff at sherry and carrots but that is because you are too old to hear sleighbells in the snow. But for those who qualify they are out there ringing for true believers.
A very happy Christmas!
ASHES TEST; CAN ENGLAND RECOVER?
The 4th Test begins at Melbourne on Boxing Day. A gate of 100,ooo is expected and the younger England players may find that daunting. But the promotion of Ian Bell should help for he has developed nerves of steel. The pitch may offer some turn but will not be as helpful to paceman Mitchell Johnson as was the Perth version.
There is little doubt that England has the talent to beat this Australian side but much will depend on the performance of the top five batsmen. Any repeat of the suicidal flashing outside the off stump could mean curtains.
Surely we won’t repeat those schoolboy errors. Will we?
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. The 1976 Nobel prize for peace. 2. South Africa
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which British prince gained a degree in history at Cambridge? 2. Which political leader’s wife Caroline was killed in a road accident in 1970? (ANSWERS TOMORROW. CHRISTMAS DAY)