The true spirits of Christmas past
Folks, one Christmas Eve, a long time ago, I was unemployed, broke and feeling a wee bit sorry for myself. Scraping up the last of our spare change I decided to get rolling drunk because if you're going to be unhappy you might as well enjoy it.
This is why the following words will probably appear on my headstone: "Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time...''
Anyway, Long Suffering Wife decided to have an early night, so I took my bottle of booze outside and plopped down under the clothesline to have a stern chat with God about some of the things I thought He could do better.
I'd just unscrewed the cap and tossed it over my shoulder when I heard our neighbour crying. I tried ignoring her, but eventually I made the exasperated sighing noise I save for such occasions and, putting down the bottle, wandered over to see what was wrong.
Long story short, my life was a breezy, fun-filled picnic compared to hers.
Plus the icing on top of her particularly crappy cake was that she had two little boys asleep inside who would wake up to an empty Christmas tree in the morning.
Nothing is a faster pick-up than finding someone else much more miserable than yourself. It was after midnight when I woke Long Suffering Wife and told her what was happening. Together, we dug out my old childhood toys, including a treasured Meccano set, and took them next door.
The three of us chatted long into the night as we wrapped them with newspaper, cooking paper, alfoil, pillow cases and towels, then put them under the Christmas tree.
Early next morning we were woken by squeals of excitement as the boys next door tore into their gifts.
After breakfast, I showed them how to construct some simple Meccano machines and, watching them scatter the precious parts around their loungeroom, I decided it was time to rebuild my own life.
The first thing I needed to do was hunt down the cap to my untouched bottle of booze.