Getting the Simpson home all set for Christmas is something of a family affair for DUP MP David and his brood.
Just this week, his wife Elaine, and their three children, respective sons and daughters-in-law - and little granddaughter Annabelle, who’s almost two - gathered in the sitting room at their family home just outside Portadown, dusted off all the Christmas decorations, unwrapped the shiny new ones, and set to work, creating the kind of wonderfully warm, Christmassy, cosy scene, that could be something straight off a movie set.
With its roaring fire, classically beautiful cream fireplace surround, and homely, tasteful decor, this room in the local politician’s home is breathtaking on an ordinary day during the year, never mind at Christmas, when its welcoming undertones serve to give you a virtual hug as you walk through the door.
“We’ve lived here now for 17 years,” says David of his Annaghmore home.
“Previously, we had lived in the area just a few hundred yards away, but this home had the land and the outbuildings to develop into our family business.”
Indeed the business which David and Elaine built up and still run together - Universal Meats - has its headquarters just up the lane from the house.
But when the MP isn’t thinking about work, or flying off to London to tend to Parliamentary business, or going to local meetings and helping constituents, there’s nothing he enjoys more than seeking out the peace and solace of the sitting room, where he can relax and get away from it all.
“Spacious, bright, homely and quiet” is how he describes this room, for which he says wife Elaine chose the decor. His favourite feature is the striking fireplace, which he actually picked himself, whilst Elaine selected the finishing touches for the rest of the room.
The final result, he says, is a place where he can hide away, and take time out from his relentless schedule. “I can withdraw into it. With my hectic lifestyle, it is good to have a place of relaxation and, as they say, chill out! And of course I’m partial to the odd wee nap!
“Because I’m away in London for most of the week, I really only get the opportunity to spend quality time in it at the weekends. I like to read here, work on my iPad, Facebook, watch TV - all at the same time!”
It genuinely sounds like it’s a true haven for the busy politician, but when pressed to pick one thing he would change about it, his response was swift and quick-witted.
“I’d put a lock on the door, with a pass key!” he grins.
David isn’t the only one in the family who treasures this room.
Daughter Leah says she has so many memories of it from growing up in the house, from gatherings for the whole extended family, to Christmas morning.
“We had a sofa each that Santa left our presents on, and every year they were on the same one.
“Dad sat on the rocking chair in the corner watching us opening our presents. He just loved watching all the excitement and he does the same even to this very day.”