Photo taken in our sitting room yesterday morning, January 11th…
The last light went out in the last bedroom. The house was silent.
In the sitting-room the Crib Dwellers woke and stretched. The First Wise Man looked idly around the room, then his mouth opened in horror.
“Jesus Mary and Joseph!” he gasped.
“Yes?” said Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
“No, not you,” said the First Wise Man. “It’s just an expression of surprise.”
“Is it indeed?” said Mary icily.
“Never mind that,” said the Second Wise Man. “Look around.” They all did so.
The room was empty.
Well, not empty. It still had furniture, a TV, and clutter, but the massive tree that had dominated the room for almost a month was gone. So too had its lights and baubles, so too had the tinsel, so too had the plastic mistletoe pinned above the door, a tribute to the classiness of the house’s owners.
It was as if Christmas had never happened.
“Sweet Mother of God,” breathed Mary, then stopped in confusion.
“See?” said the First Wise Man. “It’s what comes from years living in an Irish household.”
“But this is terrible,” said Jesus. “We’ve missed the Attic Trip.”
The Attic Trip was an annual event. Every year the Christmas paraphernalia was gathered from around the house and stuffed into a huge plastic bag, then carried up a stepladder and put into the attic. Every year something got left behind, and spent the next eleven months sitting in incongruous isolation like a camel in the Antarctic.
This year it looked as if it would be the turn of the Crib Dwellers to be the house’s version of the unicorns missing the Ark.
“Are we sure?” asked Jesus. “Maybe they’ve just taken down the tree.”
“I’ll check the Snowmen,” said Joseph.
He ran to the other end of the room. The slow tread of his return spoke more eloquently than he could.
“They’re gone,” he mumbled.
Jesus shook his head sadly.”It says a lot about the status of religion in this household,” he said, “when they remember to pack that collection of home-made weirdos while we’re treated like Kevin from Home Alone.”
“Maybe there’ll be a second Attic Trip,” said the Third Wise Man.
“There won’t,” said the Second Wise Man. “The Attic Trip is strictly a once-a-year event, like your birthday, or, um, er -”
“Christmas?” suggested Mary helpfully.
“Exactly,” said the Second Wise Man. “So we’re stuck here.”
“We could make it to the attic ourselves.” said the First Wise Man. “I saw a film once where some toys moved house after they got left behind.”
Mary sighed. “In the first place,” she said, “that film was not a documentary. In the second place, we would literally have to move house, bringing the whole stable with us. Sooner or later the dim-wits that live here are going to notice it’s still here, and even they will think it a bit odd if we’re not in it when they do.”
“But I want to go back to the attic,” said the Third Wise Man plaintively. “It’s our home.”
That was true. While they had to spend December downstairs, for the rest of the year the Crib Dwellers lived contentedly in the attic among the discard of the now-grown family. They had friends – the complete set of Harry Potter action figures, two Bratz dolls and a bobble-head David Beckham. Joseph was building a plant garden in an old Croc. Jesus played Snake on a Nokia phone. Mary was working her way, turning each huge page one at a time, through the Twilight books.
Now they stared gloomily around the sitting-room. There was very little there that was going to entertain them, unless they tried getting tunes out of blowing across the top of empty wine bottles.
Morning came, their time for sleep, so in their uneasy slumber they didn’t hear the phone ring. All they knew was that their house was suddenly lifted, like Dorothy’s in The Wizard of Oz. They were stuffed into a smaller than usual plastic bag.
“They’re throwing us out!” whispered Joseph.
They were carried, then heard the scrape of the step-ladder on the bathroom floor, then felt themselves lifted, swung and dropped. They scrambled to the mouth of the bag and looked out.
They were in the attic. Impossible as it seemed, like Halley’s Comet appearing back into view because it had forgotten something, there had been a second Attic Trip.
“What happened?” asked the Third Wise Man.
“I heard the woman yelling in panic at the man,” said Mary. “Apparently her cousin had rung from the UK and announced he was coming to stay for a few days.”
“What?” said the First Wise Man. “No-one ever comes to stay.”
“Looking at the empty wine bottles, that’s no surprise,” said the Second Wise Man.
“Well, he is,” said Mary.
Jesus smiled. “It’s a Christmas miracle,” he said.