Oh, I simply adore Christmas. I feel just like a child again, jittery with anticipation. (There are some who say I act a bit like a child too but they are old scrooges and I can’t hear them – la la la la.) The Chateau is all dressed for Christmas; we Edwardians took a tip from the Victorians in that department. There is not a nook nor cranny that doesn’t have some form of velvet or evergreen tucked into it. Wreaths with plums and walnuts hidden amongst their branches smile from every window. The other day I ran to the sash to tell the gardener to trim the hedge especially tight and nearly lost an eye trying to negotiate the circle of conifer.
J. has taken to calling the Great Hall the Forest; its possible I went a bit far in the amount of trees I have lining the walls. But each time I said ‘that’s enough’, there was a spot that looked left out, and nobody should be left out on Christmas. Besides, when only the trees are lit, you feel just like Clara before she comes upon the Snow Queen; although Mr. Brown says I am not to pirouette any more, it appears the trees, when knocked into, have a domino effect.
The main tree, the one I sit under every night with all the room’s lights off and only the fire flickering, has generations of time capsules in the form of ornaments displayed in its boughs and hundreds of little lights nestled behind them that glow like a warm heart. I put a few little bells on some of the lower branches just to encourage the Entitled Alley Cat to bat them. Clarice goes positively purple when that tattered feline races around the sprigs knocking trinkets hither and yon; I keep hoping the tree will topple into the vile fruit cake sitting under glass from some decrepit cousin too many times removed that Mrs. Walters insists on keeping “for the sake of family.” All things at Place de Plume are family, including the rubbish bin, why not feed it to that?
The presents are everywhere. You can’t extend you hand without finding one of my wrapped treasure. I love the look of gifts with enough ribbon adorning them to open a City Hall. I will wrap anything that is not a necessity this time of year. I accidently wrapped Chef’s rolling pin when it was left unattended and she threatened to use it on me if it went missing again. She wouldn’t dare, I replace her cooking sherry with the good stuff this time of year because we all know where half the bottle goes when she’s preparing our feasts. I have presents for all my friends and loved ones but they have to come to the Chateau to collect them, Naomi de Plume does not ship. Besides, how could I miss their faces when they unwrap that perfect cadeau that they didn’t know they wanted until I placed it in their hands? I keep a Santa hat on the large Wing Back chair in the sitting room and will climb in the lap of anyone who wants to don it. If their cheeks aren’t rosy before they ask me what I want, they will be perfectly scarlet when I tell them.
Christmas Eve I stay up as late as I can. Stodgy old Mrs. Walters scolds me when she finds me sneaking down the stairs for one last look at the tree. She misses her sons who have long since moved away and though she will never admit it, loves to mother me on those Christmases she isn’t travelling to see them. So I cause as much mischief as I can for her and she feigns a scolding tone when I costume myself as Santa Lucia using the Advent Wreath as my crown. As midnight approaches, she shuffles me back to bed where I pester her for stories from her days as young girl and she gets misty remembering back. However, Mrs. Walters is getting on in years and eventually is too tired. So she slips an extra shot in my egg nog to knock me out so she can go to bed, which is alright with me because that is all I was after anyway.
On Christmas day, the doors to the Chateau are open to anyone who wants to come. There is music spilling from every room and laughter embracing even the iciest of dispositions. You need not bring anything but I insist you leave with a full belly and all the good tidings you can carry.
I pray for the world, for hope and for peace. I pray for my Thomas, my Rémy and my Sophie. (In the spirit of Christmas, I shall not wish for Albert to sit on a fiery hot poker… just a pin.) I pray for my friends, my lovers and you.
So make merry and make haste, don’t let your step falter. Place de Plume will be open for all, and everyone is invited.
Merry Christmas, darlings