It was a shame that Keith couldn’t be with us on Christmas morning but he had to spend time with his elderly mother. I thought my own Ma was happier with it being just the two of us. We sat by the tree with our mugs of tea, looking at the wrapped presents. I couldn’t take my eyes off the tiny one in extravagant paper which Keith had left the night before. He wasn’t allowed to stay over. Maybe when I’d left school…?
Dutifully I opened Ma’s first and gave the expected gasps, gushes and squeals. She burst into tears, as she always did at being given anything at all. A real product of war-time childhood, she was.
Finally I snatched the tiny package my soul craved. The little ticket said “You’re supposed to wear it for me”
My heart sank. He wouldn’t! Would he?
“Go on! Open it!” Ma was all agog.
“How about another cup of tea?” I ventured.
“In a minute. Open your pressie!”
As I’d feared, a fragment of red satin edged with black lace fell out on my lap. With immense presence of mind I burst out laughing and put the split-crotch panties on my head.
“A fancy-dress rugby-scrum cap!” I announced triumphantly.
“How very original.”
Mother wouldn’t have dreamed what they were having seen my ears poking out of the leg holes.