This is the weird thought I’ve had today, it being Christmas Eve.

Everyone is out and about on Christmas Eve

Although all the shops are always very busy on Christmas Eve, everyone is cheerful and full of Christmas spirit. If you go shopping on the 23rd December, or the 22nd, everyone is grumpy and pushy, determined to grab that last bag of sprouts. Wait until Christmas Eve and they are happy and don’t care about the last sprouts. The people who are working in the shops are cheerful and happy to serve you despite the big queues They are wearing their Christmas hats and looking forward to when they can shut their doors to their last customer.

Worth fighting over?

Worth fighting over?

There is excitement about what is under the tree

I love that feeling of expectation that only comes on Christmas Eve. Once Christmas Day arrives and the presents have been opened, that feeling deflates like a whoopee cushion. It’s not that we don’t like the presents we get and we aren’t grateful, but that element of surprise has gone. That ‘it must be a book’ has a name and colour. The magical object becomes tangible and real.

Spot the present

Spot the present

Christmas Eve feels Victorian, and perhaps also medieval

There is something antiquated (but in a good way) about Christmas Eve that Christmas Day lacks. I think it is the carols, the busy ye olde English shops (if you live somewhere like I do with lots of black-and-white Dickensian buildings) and the mulled wine. If you don’t go to church regularly but don’t object to a bit of Christmas church, there’s a good chance you will go to church on Christmas Eve (I used to take the children to the Kristingle service every year) and this always gives me a butterfly feeling about the following day.

People in the pub are your best friends for the night

If you go to the pub on Christmas Eve, the magic is there too. Everyone loves you and you genuinely wish them a Happy Christmas. Wait two weeks and they won’t give you a second glance and they resume their British grumpiness.

The Father Christmas magic

Once night falls, the magical feeling grows exponentially, and as the stockings get hung up on the mantelpiece that expectation of something wonderful in the air and of a special guest coming, is even more heightened. Even at my age, I still believe.

Our magical visitor

Our magical visitor

It never rains on Christmas Eve

Perhaps is just my perception but it feels to me as if the sky is always clear blue on Christmas Eve and there is a frost in the air. That is what the weather is like here today.

And then finally comes Christmas Day…

I like Christmas Day, of course, it is my birthday after all and I get loads of presents, and it is fun. I don’t have to work on Christmas Day and there’s nice stuff to do and lots to eat. However, I find Christmas Day overwhelming. I always feel overloaded by the end of the day: in terms of digestion, alcohol consumption and present opening. Also, my sense of sight, hearing and touch suffer from not enough disk space. I get to a point when I can’t take any more and I crash. I don’t know if that is just me or whether other people feel like that. That doesn’t happen to me on Christmas Eve. It only happens on Christmas Day. I actually dread that point in the day when I feel like that (usually about 6pm). Then the depression sets in as I realise that it is all over. The house is full of stuff, paper, food, boxes and tired people and it will be another 11 months until I can play Christmas music again.

So in conclusion, I wish you, dear reader, a happy Christmas Eve and hope that tomorrow meets your expectations and brings you joy. I think the key is to keep an open mind how Christmas Day will pan out and the day will be good. In other words, take a chill pill. I will try to take one too.

Greg Lake, I Believe in Father Christmas sums up very well how I feel today: excitement, anticipation, wishes, belief, sparkle.

The Smiths Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now sums up my feeling at 6pm on Christmas Day: overindulged, overstimulated, and just plain over.