My perfect Christmas is something I’ve given A LOT of thought to. Between images, films and books, I’ve build up a picture of what it would look like.
Well, actually, I have two.
The first is more realistic for the near future. It involves all of my current family getting together in a cabin. It would have to be quite a large one to accommodate all of us, but let’s not get caught up in the details.
I wake up before everyone else. I lie there for a while, revelling in the fact everyone I hold dear is under the same roof. Though miles normally stretch between us, we are all together for the best day of them all. Christmas Day.
I descend downstairs, leaving Neal to catch a bit more sleep before the day begins. I find my mum busying herself in the kitchen. We hug each other tight, and I pour us both a hot drink. Christmas is, and always has been, our time.
My dad walks in, dressed smartly. There is an air of contentment around him, clearly taking pride in the fact we are all here together. It’s what he’s wanted for a long time.
It’s not long before the rest of the family stirs, appearing in the living room, one by one. Eventually, we are all there. All ready and waiting to see what waits for us beneath the tree.
Outside is white. Completely covered in snow. There is a log fire, crackling in the background, and the gentle glow of Christmas lights illuminating the room.
A turkey is cooking in the oven; its familiar smell circulating the cabin. We are eager to tuck in, but there is a short while to wait.
In the meantime, we exchange gifts. We chuckle at the joke presents, and give thanks for the thoughtful ones. A blanket of gratitude falls over us. We know we will remember this day for the rest of our lives.
Towards late afternoon, we dive into a feast. The turkey is delicious. We pull crackers. We read out their cheesy jokes. Some are cringeworthy and others are actually funny. My nieces giggle at the sight of grown ups in party hats.
Chatter fills the air. It not only feels like Christmas. It feels like home.
The second version involves me, Neal and our potential future family. This is the one I dream about the most, and something I’m truly excited to have one day.
We live in a cute house, with a large bay window and a Christmas tree to fill it. Every room in the house is decorated for Christmas. Much like it is in our flat, but on a bigger scale.
I sneak out of bed to put all of the lights on. The children are 2 and 3. This is the first Christmas they have shown signs of understanding what’s happening. I long for it to be magical for them, in every way possible.
Again, outside, there is a thick layer of snow, with more drifting down. I take a moment to watch from inside. Neal appears behind me, and wraps his arms around me.
We cuddle up on the sofa. Neal is sipping coffee, while I’m cradling a cup of tea. Juno is curled up on my knee, and our dog rests at our feet. Everything is peaceful, and calm.
But not for long.
We are brimming with excitement, because we’ve gone out of our way to get the little ones what they wanted. Their faces will light up, as they tear off the wrapping paper.
They bounce down the stairs and see that Santa has been. They are giddy, restless and enthusiastic.
We put some Christmas music on, and begin unwrapping our gifts. Despite her age, Juno plays amongst the wrapping paper. The dog tries to smuggle a treat from the hands of the children.
Disbelief splashes across their small, innocent faces. Santa did a good job.
Tomorrow, we will drive out for more fun with the family. Right now, however, it’s just us. We put A Muppets Christmas Carol on, attempt to sing along and nibble on chocolate coins.
The day is full of smiles, laughter and love. There is a glow around my heart as I watch my dreams play out in front of my eyes.