I had it when I was a child and locked it away when I was about ten only to rediscover it a couple of years after I'd had my first-born. Then I brought it out yearly to fill our house with its wonder and mystery and magic. But as the kids got older I forgot that I still had it. The wonder, the mystery and the magic just got lost in the whirlwind of duty and expectation - not least my own expectation that if I didn't get exactly the right present for every single person on my list their Christmas would be ruined and it would be all my fault.
So this week I've been on a mission to find the spirit of Christmas again.
You'd think that finishing work for the year would give me a little more time to go hunting for it.
Not so. I swear that I've been busier since finishing up at 6:37pm on Monday night than I've been for the last couple of weeks. Probably because I've been putting off Christmas jobs till 'when I've finished work'. Yes, that's right I use work as a way to avoid Christmas shopping and to sustain my inner Christmas Grinch. I even took on more work at the very last minute (like on Thursday when I'd been planning to finish up on Friday) so I could have the joy of working all weekend rather than shop.
And why did I do this? (And believe me, this is not the first time so I haven't learnt from bitter experience).
Because it's so much fun to go to the shopping centres and fight for car parks then hang out with thousands of other frantic and deluded people who've pretended that they still have plenty of time?
Yeah, that's been awesome! (Please note strong undercurrent of sarcasm - and the use of sarcasm around Christmas time is like killing one of Santa's elves).
Or is it because cutting it so close to the wire helps bring clarity and makes me more decisive? Well, considering that I still have one son that I've bought absolutely nothing for and am still struggling for ideas, the answer to that question would be negative.
Having the "OMG it's less than a week to Christmas and I still have so much to do and if they suddenly decide to change the date without me knowing I'm so screwed" feeling was not helping to find me my Christmas spirit. I spent all Tuesday in a mental fluster trying to sort through the logistics of the next week and a bit. Wednesday morning wasn't much better - until I got to catch up with a friend over coffee to exchange gifts. Finally I felt the first shiver of anticipation. That feeling that something nice was about to happen.
Thursday's events were the catalyst to finding my long-lost Christmas spirit. I can't say that they were earth-shakingly exciting or even that they'd work for everyone but they certainly worked for me. It was the simple act of donning aprons, cranking up the oven and the electric mixer and filling the kitchen with the scent of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and chocolate. And, most importantly, doing it with a friend.
Spending three hours chatting, chopping, measuring and mixing was fun and exhausting and made me remember how wonderful Christmas can be.
So this morning I put on my Christmas shirt and headed back to the shops to tackle the last of my to-do list.
And just to set the record straight, I have not taken any mood-altering drugs - legal or otherwise - to produce this feeling.
It must be a Christmas miracle.