We Three Kings

Every year in the run-up to Christmas, we fill the calendar with wonderful winter fayres. I picture my family almost stepping from a Boden Catalogue;  rosy-cheeked and laughing as we pass the choir going into the third verse of We Three Kings. It’s all mulled wine and children juggling red hot chestnuts from the wood burner.

We are so lucky in Shropshire. You can’t move without stumbling upon a Frost/ Winter/ Victorian/ German market or fayre promising good cheer, home produce, and a warm toasty welcome. The hope being that by the time you leave every name on your present list will be ticked off, and your larder (I’m still pretending to live in a catalogue) will be overflowing with rich, indulgent, hearty food.

I have my list, I have my family, I have hope. It’s a good start.

I’ve given my husband three relatives to buy for and a six year old helper. They make their way confidently over to the drinks stall of fruit liqueurs, sloe gins and whisky.

When I turn round, Daisy, who is five, is nowhere to be seen. I’m scanning the stalls, crouching down to her level trying to see through the crowd at least six people deep. My heart sinks as I think through the possibilities:

A) She’s stuck her whole head into the chocolate fountain she clocked on the way in.
B) She’s sneaked her way into Santa’s grotto to have a serious talk about whether the elves are actually ‘house elves’ and deserve rights.
C) She’s the one driving the mobility scooter that knocked down that tree.

Actually I should give her more credit. She walks towards me grinning, her arms are brimming with everything from homemade soaps, jams, a scarf and what looks like a lovely piece of venison: ‘I’ve got the presents for everyone, Mum’ she says proudly.

Hmmm.

‘That’s lovely darling, but as you have no money and haven’t paid for them it’s called theft.’ I’m glancing around trying to identify which stalls they came from and whether I can return them without anyone noticing. Has anyone actually been asked to leave one of these fayres before? Can you be thrown out? I need help. I need my husband.

‘We three Kings of Gloucester Squaaaaaare…’ A gruff, slightly slurry tenor has joined the choir ‘. wearing women’s underwear...’ It’s my husband who obviously sampled a few of the liqueurs while deciding which ones to buy, and is now being egged on by our son who’s giggling so hard he might wet himself ‘…no elastic, quite fantastic, not very safe to wear.’

‘Is that Dad?’ says Daisy, loud enough for everyone to hear. The lady behind us tuts.

‘No…. no it’s not. Let’s go and stick our heads in the chocolate fountain shall we?’
 

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Vicki Archer Vicki Archer

Local journalist and Shropshire Radio presenter.

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