Happy anticipation caused Emmy’s leg to jiggle underneath the table. She checked her watch.
“Fifteen minutes! Let’s move.”
Vernon’s eyebrows raised a smidgeon before his mouth pursed in concentration and his entire attention was diverted back to his iPad.
“How can they ask that much for that garden…?” he grumbled.
Emmy uncrossed and re-crossed her legs. Vernon’s dedicated house hunting efforts were incredibly appreciated, of course…but right now there was something temporarily far more important. It was the Leamington Christmas lights switch-on! And at this rate they would still be sat in the Benjamin Satchwell pub whilst the whole of the rest of the town indulged in the festive atmosphere outside. Though, to be fair, the jollity of the unassuming inn was rather nice in itself – Christmas jumpers and families as far as the eye could see, obviously on the same mission and Emmy and Vernon – killing time over a hot drink before the braving the chilly damp air for the main event.
Emmy wrapped her scarf around her neck, pulled on her bobble hat and bustled into her trusty giant parker. She stood up.
“I’ll faint from the heat if we don’t leave in thirty seconds” she announced.
Vernon’s mouth curled into a smile and he began packing up in a purposefully painstaking manner.
“You don’t fool me, you know, Mr. Christmas. You love all this just as much as I do!” she jabbed him impatiently.
It was true – this was without doubt the couple’s favourite time of year and they had taken special care to ensure they were around to witness the town’s magnificent Georgian architecture being brought to life with the tasteful, beautiful white and gold lights.
They hurried into the evening air – pleasantly and appropriately cold – straight into the huge throngs of people trudging up the Parade towards the main stage. Sweet chocolatey scents of churros and crepes from the market stalls danced through the air and mingled with those from the hearty spit roasts and gourmet burger vans. Lively children disembarked fairground rides and jumped around with excess energy, waving flashing light sticks through the dark night.
“Head left down Regent Street – we’ll take a short cut” Vernon steered Emmy out of the hoards.
As they sped up a dim backstreet the undeniable sound of the crowd cheerily sailed over.
“NOOOO!” Both Emmy and Vernon burst out laughing. “After all that, we go and miss it!”
A delighted, collective roar.
The couple charged around a corner into the glittering glow. Stark white chandeliers hung proudly over the main street, trailing soft yellow curtains from their centres. Reindeer galloped across the sky chased by stars and a grand ‘Merry Christmas’ headed up the display at the top of the Parade, behind the stage from which a band was belting out old favourite seasonal songs.
Emmy tried and failed to capture the heart-warming sights with her camera as they meandered the streets, through the glitzy diamond swirls of Regent Court and past the colourful Town Hall tree that gently glowed different hues of green, red, blue, yellow and pink.
She grinned inwardly as she cheesily sung Coldplay’s ‘Christmas Lights’ in her head, feeling a surge of hope, content and magic as her favourite sight of all – simple lights twinkling from the trees in Jephson Gardens – came into view.
“May all your troubles soon be gone,
Those Christmas lights,
Keep shining on”.