at last, we are pretty much ready for you. At least, Ken and I are, though I would still like to iron the jumper I plan to wear tomorrow; but we have done our part as free-lance elves and all the presents are ready for both stocking and tree. (Ken tackled the shopping trolley.) I am indeed quite happy to fill the stockings on your behalf, since my parents’ chimney has a woodburner in it and you might find the aperture of the pipe something of a challenge. I am also happy to assist in disposing of the sherry and the mince pie. I might add an order for pringles too as the Midnight service tends to make me peckish.
Sorry Hugh didn’t want to come and talk to you yesterday in Aylsham. He was very excited on the steam-train, and waited patiently in the queue; but I’m afraid when he finally got a glimpse of your astonishingly shiny beard (does it get that quality as a result of great age?) he was overcome with shyness. Also there was a model train in the corridor that struck him as interesting. But I can assure you that he did like the cars you gave him and played with them for several minutes in the cafe. I thought it was a little lazy of you to wrap them in a ‘Santa Special’ plastic bag, but I suppose you are a busy man.
I would like to report that Hugh has been, by and large, nice rather than naughty. Language development is nice, isn’t it? There was an interesting use of the passive voice yesterday morning: “Mummy, Frankie got hitted by my stick.” He did very well sitting still in the crib service this afternoon, with the help of some chocolate biscuits, and he played in a friendly way with Jonah and Lucas when we went to see them on the journey. In fact, Hugh is being quite charming with only occasional touches of contrariness (and the stick incident was an accident, I think); everyone is remarking on how his language skills have improved, and he is delightfully interested in everything. He has been entertaining us with a range of popular Christmas songs learned at Montessori school. As the figurehead of the secular Christmas you may be gratified to learn that he started up a chorus of Jingle Bells during the crib service.
Frank meanwhile is to a surprising degree less destructive here than at home, with so many more new things to investigate, not all of them dangerous, more adults to supervise and amuse him, and a kitchen that is separate from the dining room. He is of course extremely nice. He is a gorgeous smiley funny little fellow, even with a cold. Earlier he was stripping the cutlery off the table – which he knows is not encouraged – and quietly saying “Don’t” to himself as he did it. He was a bit cold at Thrigby hall earlier today but he added to the cheer of the occasion by finding a broom and attempting to sweep the snake house and by boldly climbing the walkway over the tiger enclosure (which scares the bejeezus out of me, but it is actually well enclosed and quite safe). You need have no hesitation in filling his stocking (or letting me do it: see above).
Anyway, my wonderful mother is calling us to the table for dinner so I must stop, or I would write a paragraph about how good Ken has been. But he is a big boy and will probably cope without a stocking.
Love and kisses,
your scruffiest, happiest elf,