How the Grinch finally found his Christmas spirit

Ellen's children, preparing for Christmas

Ellen's children, preparing for Christmas - Credit: Archant

Ellen Widdup’s 2.4 Children

It’s hard to believe my husband was ever a child.

“Christmas is just one big hassle,” he said yesterday, hoovering up the needles under the tree. “It just gets in the way of all normal routine.”

“Isn’t that the point?” I replied, eyebrow raised.

“But it’s so irritating,” came the response. “I like normality.

“At Christmas the shops are heaving, there is a never-ending soundtrack of inane music playing and we cover our house with messy tinsel and so many fairy lights on strobe effect we could single-handedly bring down the National Grid.

“Nobody is at work, the transport network collapses, the binmen don’t collect the rubbish on the right day and there is a load of re-runs on TV so we have to dust off the never-ending monotony named Monopoly.

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“It’s cold, it’s messy, it’s costly, it’s excessive, it’s tiring.

“And to top it all off there’s this expectation to be damned jolly all the time.”

At this point the dog sauntered into the living room and cocked his leg against the 6ft pine.

“You see! ” my husband shouted. “Even the blasted dog agrees with me. That’s a dirty protest if ever I saw one.”

He’s always like this in December. The original Scrooge.

But come Christmas Day he relents a little.

After all, who can fail to find joy in the faces of children on that magical morning?

“Well Christmas is for kids,” is his response when I ask him why he has taken a break from being such a misery guts. “It’s not as much fun for adults.”

Now I beg to differ.

Christmas was always thrilling in my childhood home – long after we had grown up.

I can remember my sister and I as teens pledging to continue to perpetuate the Saint Nicholas myth for the sake of our younger brother.

And then, when he grew older too, the three of us continuing the pretence for the sake of our parents – who once made us leave out a sherry for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph when we were all well into our 20s.

Even now, if we are staying with them for the holiday, there are shouts of “he’s been!” on the morning of the 25th – usually started by my brother,

You see, anyone who really thinks Christmas is just for children, needs to meet my youngest sibling, Alex.

He takes his adoration of all things festive to another level.

In fact, if loving Christmas ever qualifies as an Olympic sport I might duke it out for a bronze or maybe even a silver medal.

But Alex would bring home the gold.

Last year it was he – and not my children – who was up first having a root around in the tissue paper-clad packages in his stocking.

He was the one dancing to Jingle Bells Rock on repeat come lunchtime. The one who consumed so much turkey the stitching on his novelty jumper gave way. The one who smiled so hard he got lock-jaw during present-giving.

This year he has been sending me text messages counting down the days.

Ping. 5am. “Eeeekkk! 10 more sleeps!”

Ping. 6.30am “Only 216 hours!”

Ping. 5.45am. “I feel sick I’m so excited. Eight days to go.”

“Turn that phone off!” my husband groaned one morning as the familiar chime began. “I can’t stand another moment of this hysterical anticipation.”

But however much moaning he does, I’m with Alex on this one - I can’t wait for the hall-decking merrymaking to begin.

“Fa la la la la la la la la,” I sang in reply.

A few days ago, following the morning wake-up call to announce that the big day was only one week away, I texted back to ask Alex to take my other half out for a Christmas drink.

“He is being a right grumpy pants,” I said. “Get a bit of eggnog down him and remind him why this is a great time of year.”

They made a date, my husband complaining that this “enforced merriment” was tantamount to torture, and they met outside Selfridges in London’s Marble Arch.

At 8pm my phone pinged.

“This is hell,” was all it said.

Then at 9pm another message came through.

“I haven’t changed my mind. Christmas still sucks.”

At 10pm my husband sent a final missive.

“I’ve missed the train. Staying in London. See you tomorrow.”

Oh well, I thought. If Alex can’t work his magic, then nobody can.

I returned to my wrapping duties, the mountain of paper and sellotape growing around me and then, around midnight, I retired to bed.

My Christmas countdown text arrived promptly at 7am.

“Only six more days to go,” it said.

I hit reply.

“Six more days of my miserable husband mooching around moaning,” I said.

There was a pause.

Finally my phone bleeped again.

“Maybe not,” it said. “Check your email.”

I did.

Attached to the message was a short video clip.

I clicked on it to download.

And there he was. The man who hates Christmas.

Wearing a jaunty Santa hat, clutching a cracker and at the very front of a chain of people doing the Conga down Oxford Street.

You see, it gets us all in the end.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

Find me on Twitter @EllenWiddupFor more from Ellen, see her webpage here