As we prepared to go to bed, my mum sidled up to my boyfriend and passed him a Christmas stocking, packed to the brim with presents. It was my actual childhood stocking that I'd had every year for the past eighteen years; falling apart at the seams, new ribbon on the top, a few holes in the side. Without looking at me, she said, "This is for Nicola. Do NOT let her open it until the morning." With an odd sort of glance in my direction, she said goodnight to us both and went off too bed.
I had never seen that look on my mum's face and whilst slightly confused, I didn't really give it much thought. I now know what it is because that look has been on my face recently. It is when you realise that your little girl - your first born - is no longer a child, but now an adult.
We settled down on the most uncomfortable camp beds known to man and tried to get some sleep. Approximately four times in the night, I was awoken the mumbled cursing of a six foot three bloke, folded up in a collapsed camp bed that
I think my first words on that Christmas morning may not have been quite so festive.