My husband and I sat up until midnight that night, speed wrapping over wine and munching the mince pies left out for Santa. Almost too late we caught sight of a tuft of hair poking up behind a chair. No. 1 child had hidden himself away, like a secret stowaway on the Polar Express. Giggling, he surrendered, and we pretended to ourselves that he couldn't have seen a thing (even though we had no idea how long he'd been there). I think we may even have had Santa's brandy by this stage.
With our youngest now 6, we had thought we were well past the excited early awakening before dawn. How naive! While No 4 slept soundly until 8am, his siblings were clearly trying to catch out Santa. At 3.45am I woke to the unmistakable jingle of some merry little bells and found son no. 2 (10 years old) sitting happily in his lighted room, contents of his pillowcase spilled about him. Gentle persuasion returned him to bed, but No. 1 and No. 3 decided to liven up the rest of the night with nightmares and requests for water. After an eventful night, the jingle of No. 4's pillowcase at a more civilised hour signaled that he too had woken. We smiled as we heard his sleepily cheerful "Never mind!" when finding pants and socks as "presents" in his pillowcase, before he gratefully retrieved a torch, "Cool!".