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The early morning silence was broken by the children. Too eager to stay in bed any longer, they hurtled out of their bedrooms into the sitting room, where they switched on the Christmas tree lights and sat on the floor, gently poking at presents and lifting the tags to see which were addressed to them.

Once they’d grown bored of poking through the presents, they ran into the kitchen where they clumsily prepared breakfast for their parents, spilling coffee across the tray as they took it into their parent’s bedroom.

They were sent out again, and went to watch Christmas cartoons until their parents got up.

Eventually their parents appeared, dressed and vaguely awake, and sat down to oversee the opening of the presents. The ritual was the same every year; their father would hand out one present at a time, waiting for it to be opened and thank-yous given before handing out the next one.

The whole time, each child kept their eye on one particular present that they had spotted, one larger or more interestingly shaped than the rest. The longer it remained under the tree, the better it had to be – their father always saved the best presents for last.

Some presents were opened and put aside quickly. Knitted scarves and jumpers from a grandmother, never in shades anyone would like to wear in public. The boxed science kits from a particular aunt, whose gifts to the children, every single year, were always something designed to educate and never anything fun. The children held up these gifts and smiled for the camera, so that their parents could send off pictures to the family to show how much their gifts were appreciated.

Finally, they got to the last gifts, the presents that made the kids scream and giggle with delight, the ones that they would be rushing off to play with until dinnertime, when they would be dragged away to sit at the table.

Dinner was a lot like opening the presents; they smiled appreciatively at the turkey and cranberry sauce, watched their father to see if they could follow his lead and object in silence to the presence of the brussels sprouts, and waited anxiously for the best that was saved until the end; the pudding, blazing in the centre of the table.

After dinner, while their parents dozed in front of the television, the children would escape to their bedrooms to play with their new things until the excitement made them fall asleep too.

Soon another year would begin; and the children would enjoy Easter and the long summer holidays, all the while secretly waiting for the best that was saved until the end; waiting for next Christmas.

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note- This week Three Word Wednesday gave us the words “educate, object, silence”. Easy enough under normal circumstances, but I wanted to keep it festive so it took a little more thought!)

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