I was five, and on the naughty list,
No doll for me then! Wouldn’t you think
I ‘d stay out of trouble for that one day?
Clearly not – perhaps next year.
Meanwhile the decorations would be up,
The crib and tree, and the room would smell
Of tangerines and fir and the strange smoke
Of my father’s once a year cigar.
I remember that stoic bedtime, but not
the morning, the stocking with the sixpence
in the toe, the orange at the heel,
the crayons, magic painting books,
the Ladybird Wise Robin. It’s only now
I tell myself the wonder of the bundle
on my bed – twin dolls, a boy and girl.
I called them Bob and Jennifer,
Made them go to school, bathed them,
Cut Bob’s fingernails (they never grew back).
It took me years to recognise
Love had withheld one gift, given me two.
All my childhood Christmases merge into one, but this is one I think about sometimes. May this holiday, which looks so diminished, bring you all double what you hope for. May you know yourselves loved.