Where the f… Father Christmas is the bloody sellotape? Jenny and Nick were in a mess. Christmas Eve was nearly over and not a single present wrapped, all three stockings hung by the chimney were empty.
Upstairs no one was stirring not even two year old Rudy who was fast asleep cradling fluffy mouse, three very excited children had promised themselves this year they would definitely, absolutely with bells on, stay awake to see Santa but one by one they had all succumbed to sleep.
Downstairs Mummy and Daddy were making their own futile promises, ‘This is absolutely the last time we leave the wrapping so late!’ exclaimed Nick, his head lost in the kitchen cupboard. Jenny watched her husband’s bottom waggle with anger as he searched for any of the three missing rolls of sellotape. Three? How is that even possible? Perhaps the children had been eating them?
Nick retreated from the cupboard catching his head on the cupboard door ‘Shh…sugar plums!’ he cried rubbing his brow and thrusting a box he pulled out of the cupboard at Jenny ‘Why are we stockpiling glue sticks?’ Jenny sighed. ‘This one Evie used as a lipbalm, these three have all been removed from your son’s mouth, and this one Clementine used to vajazzle herself.’ Nick popped the lid back on the glitter smeared glue stick wincing. ‘Remind me again why we had kids?’
Jenny poured two large glasses of wine and they sat down in front of a mountain of toys, it was going to be a long night. ‘You know the thing I don’t get about Christmas?’ Nick shook his head in reply, a pair of scissors held tight in his teeth, both his hands busy wrapping. ‘Christmas is stressful enough who the hell thought – what this holiday needs is a chubby, beardy, old man with a herd of reindeer to break into the kids bedroom at the dead of night?’
Nick thrust his chin towards his wife offering up the scissors. ‘It makes it more magical for the children’ he offered. ‘I think it might be slightly more magical if Mummy and Daddy didn’t have to stay up all night assembling Princess Tippy Toes Dream Castle’ Jenny replied, jabbing the blades of the scissors back into her husband’s open mouth as his eyes lit up with dread, he had forgotten all about the princess castle.
The weary couple stood over a large flat box, the contents of which promised ‘to delight children ages 4 – 7 with hours of inventive play.’ Nick jammed the instructions in his back pocket and tore open the box, unpacking everything methodically. As he crushed the box for recycling Jenny unfolded the crumpled instructions and read aloud ‘Important: Read these instructions before unpacking box.’ Shit.
Several hours later the castle was assembled - apart from a few extra bits that Nick asserted were just in the box for good luck - and the stockings were filled.
Exhausted, Jenny went to check on the children nestled snugly in their beds, while Nick force fed the overstuffed recycling bin one last box.
In his cot Rudy’s little mouth was drawn up like a bow, Jenny stood listening to her children’s deep breaths marvelling at their calmness. Out on the lawn there was a huge clattering noise, Jenny sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Outside Nick had slipped in the new fallen show crashing into the recycling bin filled with empty wine bottles. ‘What are you playing at you fucking idiot! If you wake the kids I will come down there and disembowel you with the ‘extra bits’ from Princess Tippy Toes Castle, which by the way, we both know weren’t put in that box for good luck’ Jenny hissed out of the window, Nick’s eyes twinkled as he looked up from the lawn and Jenny laughed in spite of herself.
At the bedroom doorway Nick and Jenny took one last look at their peaceful, sleeping children ‘Happy Christmas’ she whispered as Nick whispered ‘Good Night’.