We have asked all our Code of the Gentleman contributors to tell us what is special about Christmas for them, their family traditions, the eccentricities and the little things that make Christmas unique. We hope you enjoy them and maybe you will start a new Christmas Tradition yourselves this year.
Jane Malyon – Christmas Stockings and the £50 Note
We’ve always been big on the Christmas Stocking thing in our household – to the extent that our two sons (now aged 29 and 24!) have said that they would rather have the stocking than the main present, if it came to it (though we’ve never fully put that to the test).
However, I too – as an overgrown child myself – also love a Christmas Stocking…but find myself married to a chap who only shops at Tesco and wouldn’t have the first clue on buying items of clothing, make up, jewellery, perfume and the like. No matter though – being a practical, logical sort of fellow – he gives me what he deems to be the greatest gift one human being can give another. A £50 note. Yes – apparently Tiffany, De Beers and Harrods can offer no match to the pinky crispness of the £50 – and so that is my gift each year. Furthermore, last year, I was promoted to TWO such notes as a result of inflation – so that makes me twice as lucky!
However….the main aspect to mention about all this is that hubby HIDES the note – within something inside my Christmas Stocking. Only it turns out that he is truly, honestly a Master Hider – the sort that could smuggle diamonds or illegal powders, except his only smuggling interest is this money once a year for me at Christmas time!
So the way it works is that I buy some bits and bobs for my own Christmas Stocking. I do so from November onwards and pass them on to husband for safe-keeping in the hope that I’ll forget what I’ve bought myself. It usually works too as I’m turning into Amnesia Woman by the hour. So by Christmas Eve he will have a lovely stash of goodies such as nail polish, book, CD, DVD, walnut whips, tights, cosmetics, satsumas and a number of girly treats that I’m going to enjoy….and from there, he goes to work.
I always imagine Pinocchio’s Giuseppe at this point – because somewhere, somehow, in secret, husband Roger becomes this workshop-style Master Hider and gathers together the tools of his trade. This seems to require the iron, cling-film, superglue, straws and an electric drill at the very least.
Then on Christmas Day when the grand Christmas Stocking opening extravaganza begins (we’re all in bed still with a cup of tea at the ready)…my joy and task is to examine each and every treat that I pull from the old red and white falling-apart Christmas Stocking (from my childhood) to see if each new treasure is the item in which the money is hidden. Easier said than done though. MUCH easier said than done – and this process has taken nearly two hours in the past. In fact it becomes the main focus of the whole event – even drawing the children’s attention away from their own stockings! It’s not that I’m being feeble about it or that I have the largest Christmas Stocking in the history of spoiled-ness – it’s just that the £50 notes are so extraordinarily hidden, you need an x-ray machine. Let me explain:
There was the year it was inside a whole intact satsuma. NO entry marks on the fruit at all – yet the cling-filmed, rolled-up money was down the centre of it, only accessible once it was peeled. It’s also been inside the length of a banana too (that time, he drilled under the black end bit creating a tube cavity for the note…and then stuck the little banana black bit back on again with superglue). It has been literally inside a perfect, untouched Walnut Whip – and it turned out he went through handfuls of them trying to open the plastic packaging without breaking it….drilled into the base of the walnut whip, sucked out the mallow (I was robbed!)….put in the ironed, rolled-up note…and then melted chocolate and re-sealed the base of the walnut whip before setting it and putting it back inside the packaging for gluing seamlessly back together again. The money has also been inside a KitKat UNDER the chocolate…and…well, you get the idea.
The year that took the longest to find was the year it was literally inside a whole walnut. Magnificent. A close second was the year I searched and searched, breaking open packets of biscuits, sticking my fingers into Tunnocks Teacakes, ripping sealed CDs apart, squeezing out Oil of Olay…basically destroying the contents of my Stocking – only to have Roger suddenly say – “Oh no! I knew there was something I forgot!” And, bless him, he’d omitted the tradition that year by mistake. Hahaha. Anyway, I’ve no idea what will happen this year as he may have peaked with the walnut – but I’m going to keep my eyes on the brazil nuts this year- it’s never been in one of them!
By Jane Malyon www.englishcreamtea.com