This old tea chest has been taking up space in our living room since well before Christmas, when it finally seemed like a suitable time to bring it in from the cold and wipe off the mould, dust, mud and general muck that had accumulated over the last eighty or more years. Before languishing in our greenhouse for a year, it languished slightly more dryly in my mother’s loft for, oh, over 29 years. It had once belonged to my father’s family in south Wales, and you can still read the delivery address on it, ‘Abertridwr’, where my father lived when he was a small boy. A sentimental something that made me want to bring it back to life again.
Covered in dusty, rotten fabric and lined with soggy paper it smelt as musty as a cellar in Venice. But once all that was stripped off, a lovely but rough tea chest appeared. So there it sat; dry, sanded and with metal parts painted, in our living room, taking up space.
But there was something altogether more magical in store for it…
Next Christmas our little Rubio will open this aged and rusty-hinged chest and find something quite unexpected… painted deep ultramarine blue, covered in real, glowing gold leaf. A line of magical creatures prance, twist and gallop around the rim. Filled with our German Christmas pyramid, baubles, beeswax candles, straw stars and a wreath made from pine twigs which smells of frankincense, it just glows when opened.
So it is March now, it is a little bit late to think of Christmas, on the eve of the equinox. Better to think of it as being a little bit early, waiting for winter. It is waiting in a dark corner under the eaves at the very top of our house, waiting for a little boy to open the lid and start the magical ritual of making Christmas memories.