I am too old to be part of the snowflake generation – I do not like this reference to the fragility of young people anyway for the ‘youth’ that I work with are no bunch of ‘melts’ – despite this, I come to discover during this week that I am a total snowflake in the nicest possible, old fashioned, seasonal sense.

Take this morning, it takes more inner grit than usual to drag my sorry backside out from under a toasty duvet; I am muttering in the dark because I am to run solo and it is so much harder to start a run on your own.(Reader I am a Tier 2 and my usual weekend running buddy is Tier 3; I am too long in the Covid tooth to now start breaking ‘the’ rules, but as drag on my trainers, I regret this decision). Anyway, this is not why I tell this story. Half an hour into the run, daylight wins and, as I break off from my muttering, I realise that there is a coating of snow on the hills that I am running towards. I feel strangely excited about this unexpected Christmas Card landscape.

Similarly, driving back home in the dark the other night, I experience the same festive excitement when I realise that people in my new postcode appear to take their Christmas lights really, really seriously – so seriously that their lights are totally over the top and naff. The Christmas magic lies in the fact that their lights are so over the top and so naff that they are actually really, really special. Again, I feel excited about Christmas despite years and years of public loathing for people who ‘go in’ too early with their ‘ Santa Stop Here’ signs and other tawdry tinselled tat.

But this year I am grateful for anything that brightens up the dark wet evenings and manages to coax me out of my lockdown mentality to embrace a bit of glitter and colour. Huge inflatable snowmen? Yes please. Sumo sized portly reindeer? We need more Rudolph in our life, spread the word. Neighbours who have seeded their front gardens with snow-effect turf? Let me stand and doff my carol singer’s bobble hat in your yuletide direction.

The Ghost of Christmas Past repents of my previous yuletide snobbery.

Thankfully our local churches have been working with local school children and have now erected the life sized drawings of nativity figures as seen through the eyes of these excited young folk. To be fair, some of the drawings look quite mutant, but if there is an excuse to do a nativity ‘eye spy’ trail from church to church, count me in. Who am I to decree that the three Wise Men should have only two eyes apiece or that the shepherds’ flock should not be depicted as road kill? One local church goes for gold and erects a 3D nativity calendar, with a new boxed window appearing each day. Who needs a Selfridges’ Christmas window when you have a display like this? Word has spread and excitement is building in the locality – it feels like a Christmas version of a Wallace & Gromit trail and although there is only one venue to attend each night, we locals are happy to be outside even if it is standing room only.

I also commend the love that has gone into the town’s Christmas bunting and crocheted ‘paper’ chains which are now festooning railings around the vicinity. Admittedly the recent wet spell has done these decorations no favour, but such Christmas crafting warms the cockles none the less. Bah Humbug to you, Covid.

Buoyed by this Covid-friendly Christingletide I meet a friend for a socially distanced Christmas walk after work. We amble around the local marina taking it in turns to clutch a takeaway Costa Quality Street Hot Chocolate (they are too sickly to knock back a whole one each ). It is freezing but I am excited by the fairy lights on all the marina moorings and the array of Christmas trees twinkling from every residence around the water. It reminds me of the game we used to play in our family as we drove to Midnight Communion on Christmas Eve along the ‘Road of Many Bungalows’ (We lived in a retirement town and the road – naturally – was not really called this, but my sister renamed it on account of its endless stretch of identical 1950’s bungalows ). One side of the car would count the Christmas tree offering from the bungalows on the left, and the other on the righthand side – the highest tree count allowed the winning team first dibs to choose the first ’round’ of presents from under the tree on our return from church; the losers had to provide the refreshment choice of the winners before unwrapping could commence.

The impromptu marina evening gets even better when said friend insists that I open my Christmas present early (another rule broken). Last year you will remember that she blew my mind by crocheting a cosy for one of my many Terry’s Chocolate Oranges (don’t judge me) but this year she has clearly maxed her lockdown to crochet a full set of Chocolate Orange cosies in a rainbow of colours. The possibilities are endless; just looking at this set makes me happy. I wonder briefly if I should contact the local council to see if they would like me to create a window display of my festively attired chocolate family. This thought lasts just as long as it takes me to cannibalise a white chocolate orange sporting a rather natty emerald crocheted cosy; nah, Favourite Man will go mad if we have the locals tapping, unwrapping and looking into our lounge window to see what Terry is up to each evening. I will keep this idea under foiled and crocheted wraps for a post-Covid future.

The Ghost of Christmas Past will have me share that usually my colleagues try and sneak naff Christmas ornaments onto my desk when I am not looking so that they can laugh at my Grinch impersonation. The Ghost of Christmas Present points out that this year my colleagues hear me asking in November whether it is too early to unpack my light up Santa and Poundland Snow Man. Usually I am the last to get excited about a school Christmas lunch or the staff Christmas raffle; this year I find myself knocking on the door of the canteen in October complaining that even in Covid times, we should do better than a packed Christmas lunch for students. I start a student petition against the blanket ban on Corona spreading crackers. The petition goes viral (ironic), but I still have high hopes for National Christmas Jumper Day this Friday. As I have purchased ALL the tickets for the staff Christmas raffle, the Ghost of Christmas Future is feeling upbeat about my chances of pulling off a yuletide swag on the last day of term – someone needs to find a home for that crate of Bailey’s, those Guylian sea shells and those moulting Ponsietta plants; I have Christmas capacity and I am not afraid to use it.

So this year readers, I am a self-confessed, slightly naff snowflake who is ‘going in’ early. It feels really, really good. Remind me of this in twelve months’ time.

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