In many ways, Christmas Eve is much more fun than the big day itself. The sense of anticipation, the excitement of things to come and a variety of Christmas Eve traditions. Ours starts with Christingle at our local church when I become all sanctimonious by reminding the children that Christmas “isn’t just about presents”. Then comes new pyjamas and a book. The boys receive these on Christmas Eve so they can wear new pjs and hopefully get excited about having new reading material. A new book the next morning would get tossed aside fairly quickly amidst a sea of noisy presents – but on Christmas Eve, everything is savoured.
But the really important annual ritual is choosing which refreshments to leave out for Father Christmas. As a child, I distinctly remember my Dad telling me that Santa really appreciated a “nice drop of Scotch”, along with a homemade mince pie and the all-important carrot for Rudolph. Fast forward 35 years and this line-up hasn’t changed much, but the whisky has been replaced with a large glass of Rioja. And boy, does Santa enjoy his red wine!
However, this year, my eldest son expressed concern for the first time: “Mummy, why do we leave wine for Santa? Zach in school says they leave him a glass of milk as you’re not supposed to drink and drive.” Trying not to roll my eyes, I tried to think of a suitable answer to this rather complex question. I began by saying that Santa is exempt from such laws but then quickly backtracked as this definitely portrayed the wrong message. So I explained that even though driverless cars are still a
few years away, Santa is very much ahead of his time when it comes to technology and, after some careful planning with the satnav in late December, the sleigh pretty much drives itself. Help from the reindeer is vital, though, as these are the only animals trained to fly at hypersonic speeds. Phew. Satisfied, for now.
But something tells me this conversation might crop up again. I decide to ask my friends what they do. The drinks vary – Brandy, Prosecco, Port, gin & tonic or mulled wine. Gotta love friends. This year, Santa will be getting a slightly larger measure than usual. Cheers! And here’s to a very merry Christmas.
BY CATHERINE LAWLER