In which the stockings come down

With brother no.1, Christmas 1993
I am writing this during Twitter’s annual Elf-athon, which is why I imagine you can smell candy corn wafting up from the page. Whatever it is that candy corn might be. Right now the internet is about 70% people chanting “Elf! Elf! Elf!”, giddily drunk on joy and brandy marzipan, 20% people making a lot of noise about how they are purposely NOT watching Elf, or watching Elf purely to tell everyone how little they are enjoying Elf, and 10% spam Schmolex adverts.

I’m in the giddy majority, obviously.  I’ve even cracked out Maximum Christmas Jumper, the sequined one that comes down to my knees, as opposed to Moderate Christmas Jumper and Vaguely Christmassy socks, in which to watch it. But in my heart I know all this cheer is a deflection tool. It’s because I’m hanging onto childhood traditions with all my might, before the cruel sands of passing time drag them away and I’m just left with the Queen’s speech and acid reflux.

Mother Bravo declared many years ago that we would stop doing Christmas stockings when brother no.2 was 18. At that point I was 18 and he was 11, still more or less a vessel of childlike Christmas magic, just about able to forget he knew Father Christmas doesn’t exist if he tried really, really hard.

At the time it seemed beyond reasonable. By then I would be 25, and naturally past such things. I’d probably be occupying my Christmasses with more adult pursuits, like going on ski weekends with investment bankers called Gideon. But time, as time is wont to do, has sprinted past at an Olympic pelt and now brother no.2 is 17 and I am 24 and the idea of a stocking-less Christmas just feels a bit bleak.  What next, no charades? No communal family reading of The Night Before Christmas? We all do that, right?

It was only three years ago that we stopped leaving a mince pie and glass of sherry out for Santa. It had become vaguely ridiculous, what with all members of the family more likely to stay up and drink the sherry than coo over the magical icing sugar trail by the fireplace in the morning, but still. It was sad.

The obvious answer is probably to start having babies, so that the magic of Christmas can be rekindled for a brand new generation. But I hear babies are quite a lot of effort, and I can’t keep my potted basil plant alive. Besides, we wouldn’t want anything to cause a distraction during the Big Bravo Quiz.

So I ask you, at what age is it all meant to stop? 30, you say? Ok good.