Ghosts of Christmas Past

The Grumpy Innkeeper

The Grumpy Innkeeper

Less than two weeks to go!

Normally I like to wait until I see the whites of Santa’s eyes before I start to panic. Or ‘The last day for guaranteed delivery was yesterday.’

But this year I’m floating serenely. The table in my office is groaning under the weight of presents I’ve already bought.

Four counts as ‘groaning’ doesn’t it? I thought it did.

I’m so organised that I’ve had time to feel nostalgic. And make a list of the things I miss now my children come home on Christmas morning at the same time they used to wake up…

Carol Singing

Any day now a teenager will stand pathetically at my door demanding money for stumbling through one verse of We wish you a Merry Christmas. While he’s ‘singing’ I drift back in time…

“You’re not making them go out in this?”

“We’re going carol singing. It’s traditional. Just have the cocoa ready…”

And for five years it was traditional. Their school wasn’t perfect but by gum, it believed in proper carols. Ben and Jessica harmonising through Silent Night, Tom resisting the urge to sing Year 6’s ‘improved’ version of We Three Kings… No old lady could resist them. It paid for their chocolate until February.

“He’s Been, Daddy! He’s Been!”

Curling up with a small child and a book is one of life’s greatest joys. But nothing – repeat nothing – beats the expression on your children’s faces when they burst into the lounge on Christmas morning. However maxed out your credit card might be, ‘He’s been, Daddy, he’s been’ completely justifies it.

“And look, Daddy, Santa ate his mince pie. And Rudolph’s eaten half his carrot.” No, darling, it was your Daddy. Who now realises why mince pie and half a carrot isn’t one of the world’s classic food combinations. But it was midnight. Daddy was drunk. It seemed like a good idea at the time.


This may seem a strange one given my self-confessed inability to do any form of DIY – let’s hope all the cupboard doors fall off while Tom’s at home – but after the madness of Christmas morning building the Black Pearl out of Lego can be quite therapeutic. Restful, even. “Daddy’s just going to shut his eyes for a minute, darling. I’m going to imagine how happy Jack Sparrow will be when the Pearl is finished.”

A full wine rack

“What are all those bottles in the hall, Daddy?”

“It’s wine, darling. Mummy and Daddy like a glass of wine at Christmas.”

“Well it’s a big box. One, two… twelve, Daddy! I’m going to write about that in my news book. Mrs Clarke says we have to write about interesting things.”

‘Ah, yes, you’re Jessica’s parents. The alcoholics…’

Sadly a full wine rack is but a dim and distant memory. I’m collecting Tom from uni tomorrow. I really ought to spend the rest of the day prising up floorboards and hiding the good stuff. But it’s too late. Two days from now he’ll be demanding the port. The chances that any of this year’s rather-more-than-12 bottles will greet the New Year? Nil.

The Nativity Play

Desert island? Only allowed one memory? This one. Not strictly the Nativity Play, but the rehearsals. Mercifully we never had a child cast as ‘third rock from the left.’ One of the kings, the Angel Gabriel, Mary: the kids were front and centre. And none more than Ben as The Grumpy Innkeeper. Lying on the bed, scripts in our hands, learning the lines. “Alright then,” my seven year old son yelled at me, “In the stables. Round the back…


Perfect moments. Thank you…

Thanks for reading this post. If you enjoyed it – and you’d like something light and moderately humorous to read over Christmas – you can buy the ‘Best Dad I Can Be’ sample book with 27 of my favourite posts covering all the years I’ve been writing: it’s all of 99p on your Kindle. 


  1. Sounds perfect

  2. Aw! Such lovely memories. I’m anticipating at least one of my boys won’t be happy about getting up early on Christmas morning.
    Your innkeeper does look very grumpy! Almost as grumpy as my panto security guard.

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