I’m back on housesitting duty at my marital home today. My estranged wife’s return to her County Durham childhood home, caring for her ailing father, affording me a further few weeks of residency in my former abode of twenty three years.

As I’m going to be residing in the aforementioned east Leeds abode during the Christmas season, on arrival at yours truly’s former castle, decorating a tree will be my initial priority. This fir, standing 6ft in height and procured Thursday, currently resting forlornly garage in situ, propped insecurely against the lawnmower.

Hopefully, though, by early Saturday afternoon it’ll stand as proud as a palace guardsman. Illuminated with scores of diminutive bulbs and festooned in chromatic ornaments, it’ll introduce a colour and verve into an existence which, like everyone, has been thrown numerous curveballs in 2020.

It’s now less than three weeks until Santa, while adhering to strict COVID protocols, delivers this years festive trinkets. Once the tree is up later, yuletide spirits will raise a notch and I’ll undertake my traditional post fir decoration rituals. One of which that of exuberantly reciting the rhyme below, while dressed as Bob Cratchett.

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat.

Please put a penny in the old man’s hat

If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do.

If you haven’t got a ha’penny, then God bless you!

This rhyme, ritually passed down through generations of Strachans, was originally introduced during the 19th century by a great (x3) uncle, Thadius Strachan. His aim when borrowing the traditional prose was to feed off revellers festive cheer, hoping his ditty would result in a hat full of pennies…… Or, at the very least, buttons to allow him to secure his threadbare overcoat against cruel West Yorkshire winters.

As an aside, to me, the term overcoat has always seemed to be unnecessarily long. What I mean by that is, does the prefix of ‘over’ really need to be present? Surely all coats are worn over; which, to my mind, renders noun elongation unnecessary. I’d venture, the simple utilisation of the word coat suffices…… Maybe?!

My son Jonny is the latest Strachan generation to employ the singing of ‘Christmas is Coming’ when the yuletide decorations are in situ. Despite being in his 30s, my eldest offspring still maintains the festive giddiness he exuded as a young child.

To quote my boy, he always likes to decorate his tree “before the Mitagons have festive eventide.” I’ve no idea what that ritual involves or, indeed, it’s significance. However, judging from the date Jonny erects the tree, I do know the Mitagon’s feast must be after 1st December.

Luckily for his fiancee, Jenny, my eldest offspring not longer indulges in childhood practise of mimicking action playing out on the Christmas movies on TV. One Christmas, when he was around 5 years old, I nearly suffered whiplash injuries from hastily ducking out of his way as he jumped from settee to armchair, and back again, while watching an Indiana Jones movie.

My daughter Rachel, is far more undemonstrative than her brother during the final weeks before the festive season. Behaviour I’d like to think which doesn’t manifest from her mother and I ordinarily gifting her rubbish presents. For instance, last years offerings to our youngest offspring were an aerial photo of her childhood home and a Scrooge money box.

Anyhow, it’s time to bring this festive literary hooey to a conclusion. It’s gone 11am and GJ Strachan has more pressing matters than relating you, my dear reader, with my immediate families pre-Christmas euphoria levels.

Have a great weekend!