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In which I receive a magical present

Following two prompts from Please Don’t Eat Jo, other people seem to be getting in on the act which is, frankly, marvellous. A text from Culture Vulture on Saturday showed a diary entry: "“Write about the best gifts you’ve ever been given” - in case you feel the need, consider this a prompt." I’ve gone fractionally off-piste, but I figure that’s allowed.

I’ll always remember the Christmas probably - alarmingly - about 25 years ago when the last present left under the tree when everything else had been unwrapped was enormous - nearly my height (then, not now. Although, let’s be honest, the difference is so slight it’s barely worth mentioning) of crinkly, shiny wrapping paper - and my name on the tag.

As a small child, the feeling of tearing off wrapping paper to be faced with something you hadn’t asked for, but fell in love with inside the time it took for your heart to beat, was pretty damned magical.

In front of me stood an exquisitely crafted dolls’ house. A three story, eggshell blue, Georgian townhouse. There were chimneys at either end, a roof papered so that it was covered in to-scale tiles, bay trees either side of the front door over which hung a perfect entablature. Through the white floor-height windows, I could see three a central staircase, and six rooms.

When Pa Blonde unhooked a clasp hidden next to the roof, the house’s facade swung open to reveal the rooms that had been wallpapered in flock patterns, or kitchen tiles. A staircase whose bannisters had been perfectly varnished. There were more delights to come when it was revealed that under the floors, papered to look like they’d been covered in tiny oak boards, ran copper wires: plugging in a drawing room lamp lit the miniature room with a glow of golden light.

There were window boxes of fake flowers, and fireplaces, and tiny pieces of hand-turned furniture - more for collectors than a small child who would go on, over the years, to fill the house with various members from a toy box full of mismatched Sylvanian families having endless domestic adventures.

It provided me with genuinely countless hours of utter joy over the years - and it’s still at my parents’ house, looking a little tatty around the edges where some of its pristine detailing has been loved off.

And while I loved for many years for the simple fact of what it was, since then it’s come to mean something more. Because now, I can begin to understand what effort it must have been to come home from work after ridiculously long days when a small child had already been asleep a good while, to head out to a cold, damp garage to painstakingly put together, piece by piece, board by board, wire by wire, glueing and cutting and measuring, a Christmas present that would inevitably - eventually - be grown out of. The love that it represents.

If love like that isn’t up there among the best gifts there is to give, I’m not sure what would be.

This post first appeared on Against Her Better Judgment, please read the originial post: here

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In which I receive a magical present


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