The Christmas highlight was watching Miss 9 open the gift we four bought her together. I may have hinted at the fact we didn't have much money and had simply bought her lots of little presents at the 1 euro shop. She is the sweetest, undemanding creature and so that was okay with her.
Christmas morning, and after we had handed out the gifts from under the tree, we put the bulky, blanket-covered gift on her lap. She found it odd. She said 'It's guitar-shaped?' We said yes, 'maybe it's a novelty box to put all the little gifts in'. She lifted the blanket and said, 'Ohhh, you used Sander's guitar case!' Then she looked at the case more closely and said, 'Oh, it's not his.'
I think it began to dawn on her then but still she busied herself with opening the zip. The look on her face as she opened the lid was simply gold. She was stunned and bemused and amazed. She pulled the guitar out, slipped it into position and started strumming.
'Did you guess?' we asked her.
'Never', she said. 'I never imagined I might get a guitar!'
And maybe that's why we 4 put money together and bought it for her. She never demands. She never even really asks for the big things. And this is the kid who has written 'oh so many' songs already. A guitar was a far away dream.
Sander gave her her first guitar lesson on Christmas Day and by Boxing Day she was playing Twinkle Little Star. We watched as she heard her mistakes and went back to fix them. As Sander said, she has the music in her already.
Christmas Day was six for breakfast, then lunch with the same six. It was oddly non-traditional but lovely in terms of food. We cleaned and perhaps some of us napped, until Shannon and Erik drove in from Holland.
Shannon and I have become old friends, having met long ago here in Belgium and now there is Erik, her truly lovely Dutch bloke. He fits in so easily it's like we've always known him. No photographs from the day and so I wandered through my 'this time last year' folder and voila ...