My Best Christmas Present ever!

23 Dec 2020

We all have Christmas memories. This Christmas will certainly be memorable; maybe not for the most positive of reasons.

I thought I’d like to write a blog today on our happiest Christmas memories. I hope we all have some – especially those Christmas gifts we treasure.

I’m going to tell you about the best Christmas gift I ever received; and I would invite you, in the comments, to tell me about your most treasured gift.

I got my best Christmas present in 2004, and this is how it happened.

I had given birth to my second daughter at the end of September. As we also had a lively two-and-a-half-year-old at the time, my attentions were almost totally occupied with childcare; and I had little time to notice the new neighbours. They were obviously Americans, from the local airbase, moving into the rental property opposite; and our experience of such neighbours was that they were friendly enough but not exactly neighbourly.

Now it was mid-December.

It was around 6.30pm. I had given the girls their baths and now I was feeding my little one while her older sister ran around in a state of nature, drying off those bits the towel had not reached.

From the street came the sound of sleighbells and Christmas music: it was the local charity Christmas collection.

For my elder daughter, this was pure magic. “It’s Father Christmas!” she shrieked. She ran downstairs at the speed of light, opened the front door, and scampered down the path to the “sleigh;” where the fattest member of the local Round Table, dressed in red and fur and a long white beard, sat enthroned on a farm trailer, throwing chocolates to all.

It took me a few seconds to realise my daughter was bulleting, stark naked, across the gravel drive, toward Santa!

I will forever be grateful to Belle, my new neighbour. She had been attracted by the Christmas music and looked out of her window, to be confronted by a naked child hurtling down our shared drive, lumberingly pursued by a woman still clutching a baby to her breast.

Belle has told me since, the thought that ran through her mind was, “This woman needs my help.”

She ran out of her house, scooped up my daughter, retrieved the scattered chocolates, and supported me back to the house. She helped me put both children to bed and departed with the words, “See you tomorrow.”

She did see me the next day, and the day after that. She became my dearest neighbour and friend. When, inevitably, she departed for the USA, we kept in touch. We still message each other nearly every day; I have visited her twice. That two-year-old is now studying medicinal chemistry at Edinburgh and the babe at my breast will be taking GCSEs next summer. Belle and I are still close friends.

Belle is the best Christmas present I ever received.

Tell me, what is your best Christmas gift, ever?


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