Ed’s letter: Tiny things that make my family happy.
Welcome to our Christmas issue. In these glossy pages, you’ll learn how to make Christmas muesli, panettone and a joyful botanical wreath. You’ll be advised on the latest table looks plus great gift buys and shown how to build a tiny tree from strawberries. You will, in short, find everything you need to make this your family’s best-dressed
Christmas ever. Note, however, that
I said best-dressed, not best.
While I’m a sucker for fine festive frippery, I’m under no illusion that perfectly crafted wreaths and the like guarantee a good Christmas. A beautiful festive home is one thing; a good time is something different altogether. And the six Christmas-loving families whose homes we visit in this issue agree with me on this.
Yes, their rooms sparkle and their table settings are instantly instagrammable. But ask these folk about their best-ever Christmas and they’re just as likely to talk about a pre-reno picnic on the lawn as they are to expound on their lovely homes. A good Christmas, we agreed, is a bit like happiness: you can set the scene and invite it in, but in the end it either happens or it doesn’t.
One of my best Christmases was a couple of years ago. I think it was the year I bought serviettes with lime green and crimson spots, and my son Ben whipped up an utterly awesome Beef Wellington, but that might have been another year. What really sticks in my mind about this particular Christmas is that we all got to talking about our small pleasures: the little things that can inject a frisson of joy into an ordinary day.
The fur between the cat’s toes, said my moggy-besotted husband Nick. Hair that smells nice, said Ben. Old people sitting in the sun, said Nick. Folding clean washing, I said. The feeling after a run. A clever pun. Old things, said Ben. Westerly winds, said my son-in-law Mark. A good sharp filleting knife. Kim Hill on the radio and podcasts, said Kate. Asparagus, she added.
We kept on and on with this sort of thing, sparking off one another and feeling lucky and happy. Eventually Kate got a pen and wrote some of our best ones down on the little sheets of paper I use to make shopping lists.
Those happiness lists – in my daughter’s super-neat, spiky handwriting – are sitting on my desk now as I write this letter, alongside the glowing page proofs of this magazine. And suddenly, I am really looking forward to Christmas.
Hope you get a good one this year.