It was the night before the night before Christmas. Snow was not falling softly on the dark and empty landscape, and no angelic sound of distant carol-singers rolled in breezy breaths over the bereft fields from the silent, unlit village.
Inside the small, old house, dogs and cats slumbered peacefully in the dim light, content in their obliviousness to the very human fact that this was the night before the night before Christmas. No artfully-jumbled heap of colourfully-wrapped, thought-counting presents lay arranged in hopeful invitation beneath the sweet-smelling Christmas tree. There was no Christmas tree.
It was the night before the night before Christmas, and the unseasonably mild air was heavy with a sense of festive expectation, even though the day after tomorrow was unlikely to be in any way exceptional.
Yes folks. It seems that we have once again stumbled, unprepared and uninspired, into that time of year. It is very nearly Christmas, and it very nearly makes no difference whatsoever. Not that I don’t think Jesus was a Top Bloke. Far from it. I actually think he talked a whole bucket-load of sense, and that the world would be a better place if we even took account of a smidgen of the wise and compassionate things he said. But seriously, if he was around today and watching all the nonsense that occurs in the name of celebrating his birth, I’m sure he’d be sagely shaking his head in disbelief and bewailing the fact that we have soooo missed his point.
Having said all that, and having even failed to nod in the direction of a mere hint of a whisper of seasonal festivity, I have to admit that I am gutted (with a capital G) that I will not be witnessing my first grand child’s delight at her first (really aware) Christmas. And I am just a tad despondent that Nothing Special will be occurring in this vicinity on the day after tomorrow, because, well, a bit of Something Special makes a nice change now and then.
But never mind. Next year will be different. Next Christmas we will be living in our new house in Derby, and we will be able to participate in all the twinkly-lit family arguments and all the prettily-packaged financial and gustatory excesses. And as we humph our stressed and weary way to bed on the twenty-third of December 2012 (amid the contented slumbers of our oblivious dogs and cats), we will almost certainly reflect on our memories of an earlier night before the night before Christmas, not so very Long Ago, in a place where Nothing Special ever happened, and where Christmas Day was blissfully Just Another Day.