As we decorated the house for Christmas (one week before the big day – after all the pre-Christmas birthdays are finished) I was entrusted with setting up the tiny ceramic nativity set on the mantel piece. Actually, I was entrusted with more things than that, I also got to crawl around in the loft, carry all the boxes down the ladder, find all the necessary extension leads and identify and replace any broken/malfunctioning light bulbs too. I am a ‘key player’ in our house – well at least I like to imagine so. But I digress; I was setting up the manger scene. As everybody else was busy with their own jobs I took a moment to fetch a small Batman figure from another room. I carefully put him at the back of the manger, watching over baby Jesus as he slept, along with Mary and Joseph, Shepherds etc. he blended rather well into the shadows at the rear of the tiny building. I am hoping as I write this that it does not make me sound like a bit of an idiot. I should clarify at this point that this is not an isolated event in our house, nor I suspect (hope) in other homes. My wife once read an article about a father and daughter who liked to hide a soft toy where the other person would find it at unexpected times, under pillows, in shoes, car glove boxes, you get the idea. This continued long after the girl had gone off to University, left home and started work. The story made us all laugh and together with the children, we started to leave things for other family members to find in odd or amusing places. For a while these objects got moved around, in and out of the kitchen, on shelves, in drawers, under clothes, always returning to the kitchen counter to be redistributed. Gradually, over time, the relocation of the objects waned. Instead of moving things they were left were they were for others to discover. At this moment in time I could pinpoint in our house; a toy crab, a sting ray, an orangutan, Boo from Monsters Inc, two penguins, a peg angel, a hand (?), several Lego men, a lizard or two, a kangaroo, Superman, Frankenstein’s monster and of course Batman – who is now relieved of Baby Jesus watching duties and has been ‘relocated’. All are watching over us benevolently, waiting to be picked up again. As objects they are all inconsequential and unimportant. Some have stories and background that go with them, others are just things. What they have in common is that they all form part of the fabric, the myriad of little things that make our house more than just a house. As long as I have a tiny man in a walnut shell boat watching over me I will know I am at home.