Phew! After all the shopping, wrapping, tidying, cleaning, bed-making, cooking, baking, cat-polishing, and the general retail and domestic hyperactivity that is Christmas nowadays, it's time to sit down quietly with a cup of tea and a mince pie (thank you, Bee, for the pastry recipe; after all these years, I'm capable at last of rustling up a decent mince pie!) and think about what it's all about. Not only the traditional meaning of Christmas, but the opportunity to have family come together and spend time in each other's company, enjoying ourselves and admiring the gleamingly-polished cats.
I am so looking forward to the arrival of this baby:
The Lovely Son, now 38 years older than when this was taken, and who wouldn't be seen dead in yellow hand-knits. He can still make that face, though.
And, shortly after Christmas Day, this baby:
From left to right:
Bottle-blonde Dolores, who could walk and turn her head with each step, pouting attractively in her best frock and little real shoes. Her hair couldn't be combed, however and she soon lost that Hollywood starlet-of-loose-morals look. In time, she would be supplanted by Rosebud, my favourite-ever baby doll, who had no hair at all, and cried "Mama!" when tipped forward. I may have tried the same trick with the Lovely Son many years later.
Me. My mother always cut my fringe like that, and if it wasn't level at each side, would continue cutting until either she got it right, or there was insufficient fringe left to cut. This was to remain an agony to me for many years.
My sister Anne. She looks like a Giant Baby, although this is deceptive; to my joy, my mother once described her as looking like a long, skinned rabbit.
Let me reassure you that this will be the only time any of you will get to see a protruding naked tummy or an exposed nipple belonging to either of us.
Brother-in-law John will also be here, but sadly, I don't have any embarrassing baby pictures of him to share with the world. You know I would if I could.