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Christmas Eve dawned bright and frosty. It wasn’t quite as satisfying as a blanket of snow but it was festive enough to have Lola skipping round the house singing Christmas carols at full volume and telling anyone who would listen what she was going to ask Santa for in her letter that evening.
“What snacks are you leaving this year?” asked Mum on one of Lola’s rounds of the kitchen. “I’ve found your plate.”
She pulled a plate out of the back of a cupboard and put it on the table after wiping it with a cloth.
“I can’t believe you still have that,” mumbled James through a mouthful of mince pie.
“Why would I not?”
“Because it’s embarrassing. You used Lola’s feet to paint some of it.” James pointed at the ‘holly’ at the bottom of the plate, formed out of two baby sized footprints.
“They were clean!” Laughed Mum. “And so were your fingers when you did the border.”
“I remember doing that. I was really cross the lady wouldn’t let me draw the wires and details on myself.”
Mum nodded. “I had to bribe you with a chocolate Santa to get you to leave the shop and let the poor woman get on with it. Lola had vaguely green feet for a week.”
“Anyway, what do you reckon Lola? You pick the drink and I’ll choose the food this year.”
James offered Lola the box of mince pies before placing two down on the ‘treat’ part of the plate.
“Two?!” Lola looked outraged. “He’ll get fat!”
“He needs one to take home to Mrs Claus. She always misses out, it’s not fair.” James grinned at Mum over Lola’s head.
“Hmm, okay. I think Santa wants beer this year. Can we go buy him a beer?”
That night, after a Christmas story book and a marshmallow heaped mug of hot chocolate, Lola and James put the plate down in front of the fireplace beside Lola’s letter and laid out their Christmas stockings.
James only agreed to go to bed early with Lola because Dad had promised he could borrow his iPad to watch a film in his bedroom. He knew they wanted a bit of peace after the stress of the last few weeks and that Lola would kick up a crazy fuss about having to go to bed if he didn’t help out.
To be honest, he didn’t really mind. He hadn’t slept so well recently and an early night seemed like a good idea. He gave his parents a hug and a rare kiss each – it had been a tough few weeks and it was good to have some normal back – and followed Lola up the stairs.
His last thoughts as his head hit the pillow were of Christmas cake and wrapping paper, just like they had been every other Christmas Eve.