My granddaughter Sophie now has very specific tour arrangements of the farmyard when she comes to visit. Although slightly overawed by the cattle in the fold-yard, we still have to peep in through the yard gates and wait for cows to come and blow down their noses at us.
Sophie is both delighted and terrified at the same time. There are eggs of course to collect, chicks to hold, guinea fowl to upset and ducks to laugh at for their waddling gait.
Enjoying Christmas with little ones is truly joyful. Our granddaughter Jess at twelve going on twenty, is becoming increasingly sophisticated.
She even returned from a school ski trip with boyfriend in tow. Jess no longer believes in Santa coming down the chimney and the requirement to leave him and his reindeer a snack for the trip.
Although she is willing to perpetuate the custom for Sophie.
Actually it is rather a dodgy idea in this house as there is always bound to be a dog who snaffles the mince pies and a mouse to finish off the crumbs.
But it is tradition. Ollie, my grandson who is severely autistic, loves opening presents. Everyone’s presents. Not only his.
So there has to be strategies and hiding places prior to any festive family gathering so that we all have at least one unwrapped present each.
But to Sophie, whose birthday is on Christmas Day, being all of two years old this year, there is the dawning recognition that the whole festive season is specifically organised for her.
Matt, her Dad, even has an inflatable Santa Claus outfit. He did not bring it to the farm. An excitable Jack Russell could soon do some damage there.
A surfeit of celebrations can start to insinuate into every aspect of life.
My friend Stephanie emailed me a conversation held with her granddaughter Amélie as her Mum was preparing a lunch of cheese and salad for her.
Amélie had been to pre- school and was seated on a stool at the kitchen work top.
Victoria, her Mum, chatted away trying to draw out what Amélie had been involved in with the Christmas activities and nativity play being staged by nursery children for their parents to watch.
A firm little voice focused on her interest in baby Jesus. Victoria pursued the nativity theme as she continued cutting up pieces of cheese.
Had Amélie enjoyed learning about angels, shepherds, the three kings, the donkey?
Just baby Jesus an increasingly imperious little voice, now slightly raised and impatient replied. Mum gamely persisted..
What could Amélie tell her about Joseph and Mary and the stable?
Amélie’s patience could no longer be contained.
“Want baby Jesus, want baby Jesus,” she demanded in a raised voice, pointing firmly at the small cubes of cheese that Victoria was arranging on a plate for her lunch. Realisation dawned.
Nothing to do at all with Christmas, the nativity or the nursery. Amélie wanted some Baby Cheeses this instant, and her Mum was taking far too long to provide them.