a: Flood of sympathy for Christmas homeless

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So how did it all pan out, then? Was Christmas Day serene and controlled like Nigella, Gordon and Delia had told us to plan and execute seamlessly?

Was your tree hung with homemade goodies, presents wrapped using eco-friendly Kirstie Allsopp crafting tips, the presents themselves homemade jams and chutneys which you made months ago after reading the “It may only be June but come on lazy bones get ahead with Christmas” article in your favourite magazine? Is all paper recycled, that one bottle of homemade Sloe Gin popped away for a special occasion.

If so can I move in please?

Our flat looks like we’ve been burgled. We started our serene day with my son and husband taking our two dogs – and my mother’s lurcher who is staying for Christmas – out for a walk round the block.

They were chatting away so much they couldn’t get the key into the door when they came back so just buzzed the buzzer and were let wordlessly in. As the dogs rampaged downstairs to the basement flat followed by David and Louis, I am not sure who was more surprised – them or the complete stranger in his white towelling robe who stood in the doorway of what was patently not the door to our flat.

“Oh” he said nonplussed. “I didn’t think I recognised you but I let you in anyway.” Huge embarrassed apologies ensued as they backed up the stairs and waited until they had emerged back onto the street before bursting into fits of laughter.

This was cut short when they heard the man’s voice on the intercom saying “Ahem, excuse me but are you missing a dog?” A quick head count and yes the small, hairy sausage shaped mongrel was in fact missing.

“Yes, sorry,” gasped my husband before being let back in, tanking downstairs and having the rather unedifying experience of trying to round up a deaf, half-blind 14-year-old dog who was not for catching. Merry Christmas.

You may think my husband and son are unbelievably stupid that they can’t recognise their own front door whether chatting or not, but let me explain. Our own place is being done up and we moved out months ago to let the builders get on with it on the understanding we would be back in our own home for Christmas.

Yes, you guessed it, the building work isn’t finished so we are now camping in a flat with all our trockle. To add to the confusion it is not the original flat we moved into during the building work. No, that one was booked over Christmas so we moved to this one just last week. Yes, the week before Christmas, which we needed like a hole in the head.

Still, it makes me realise how important it is to have a home. Though we are in a great flat, with very understanding neighbours, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas when you’re not where you want to be.

Feeling a bit sorry for myself in the run-up to Christmas and sporting a torn face, it was a literal slap in the chops that brought all of us back to reality when we watched footage of the devastating floods that spread over the UK over the past few days ruining homes, furniture and possessions.

Most upsetting of all was watching as Mother Nature effectively became the Grinch that stole Christmas from all the optimistic and excited youngsters being carried clinging to their parents from the heart of their home, watching tearfully as their favourite toys bobbed off down the road in the opposite direction.

Many were hysterical wondering how Santa was going to find them and their parents trying to put on a brave face yet wondering exactly the same thing.

So we have had a word with ourselves in out temporary flat. We are not cold, wet and upset having watched our worldly possessions including Christmas tree, presents and Dad’s old chair float off down the road. We know we will get home in a few weeks and appreciate that all the more.

So no matter what you see across the room – piles of paper, sweetie wrappers, a flatulent relative, a bald tree and a dog covered in pine needles – spare a thought that it is your room even if it is full of mess and irritating visitors.

The materialism of Christmas whether shopping online or on the high street, maxing out the credit card, trying to create the perfect day is exhausting, pointless and yet we get sucked into it every year.

We may just have had the perfect Christmas and not even realised. So count your blessings and hug your friends and family. After all, without them it would be nothing.