Oh, Christmas. You do this to me every year. Build me up for weeks and then anti-climax the shit out of me when the big day arrives.
From early December I am filled with anticipation. I plan, buy and wrap presents fantasising about how wonderful the 25th will be. Surely we will wake, rested and full of energy, and run down the stairs to see if big Daddy C has been. The children, angelic little beings, will open their presents with glee and be astounded at how lucky they are. They will play carefully and deliberately with each present, delighting in showing each other the brilliant toys they have been gifted by the big man himself.
In reality, we Mr GGL and I are woken up by Sonny who is slightly put out that his stocking does not contain the Fur Real crapping dog he asked Father C for. He insists we go downstairs now, and so we send him to wake his sister and stumble out of bed, groggy and knackered after staying up late on Christmas Eve.
I know what you’re thinking. Rest assured dear reader, we were not up late hitting the eggnog and dancing to Wham (sadly). We were using a stencil to create snow footprints and manically wrapping the mountain of presents we promised ourselves we would not buy this year but somehow ended up with. Yup, hedonistic to the end, and despite all the preparation, ridiculously unprepared.
The kids did run down the stairs, eager with anticipation, but the rest of my unrealistic reverie was not realised. The living room, once a magical vision of flour footprints and filled personalised stockings, quickly resembled landfill. My little angels, so innocent and happy they had been visited by Santa C, quickly turned into hyenas who had stumbled upon a pack of sleeping zebra.
In minutes all the wrapped presents had been torn asunder and the whining had begun. Instead of the thankful gleeful children of my imagination, cries of “Can we open the play-doh oven now please Mummy? Right now. This minute?” and “Put the batteries in, PUT EM IN!” echoed across our house.
We made some fundamental mistakes this Christmas. Rookie errors. So carried away with making it a perfect day, I lost sight of what is really important. My children don’t need loads of presents. All they really want is to open one big present, play with it immediately and be accompanied by a parent during all stages of play.
All they want is my time. Someone to pretend to eat the play-doh cakes and burgers. Someone to take blurry pictures of with their new Kiddizoom camera. Someone to pretend to walk the shitting dog with, then pick up the pieces of poo and feed them back to him in some sick Fur Real world (?!?!). Which is easy to lose sight of when trying to locate screwdrivers and batteries and bag up 1200 black bags of wrapping paper and cardboard.
So just to make sure that next year I don’t make the same mistakes, here are some pointers for future me. 2018 Christmas me. Things to avoid and things to remember.
- Write a list of presents for the kids and stick to it.
Do not be swayed by sales and offers and things you think they might like but really childhood you would like. Just because you didn’t get a Tiny Tears does not mean that your children want one. Plus, on the day, you will then spend an inordinate amount of time feeding the bloody thing water in an attempt to get her to piss herself, as demanded by your persistent 3-year-old.
- Remove the packaging from every toy and insert batteries BEFORE wrapping.
This will stop the pressured unwrapping on the day, which ultimately leads to slashed fingers from the inexplicably sharp plastic used to box up kids toys. Also, this level of prep will prevent us being 12 batteries short on the day despite clearing out the 2 nearest offies and thinking we couldn’t possibly need any more triple A’s.
- Go to bed early on Christmas Eve.
Don’t bother with flour footprints, as they are already cottoning onto the fact that there is no snow outside and if it came from the North Pole it would have melted by morning. Also, we all spend the morning looking like a pasty PJ’d goths from the excited patting splashback.
- Do not buy a turkey.
Every year you will want to be traditional but turkeys are massive bastarding birds and no one eats that dry shit anyway. Every year we get the timings wrong and get stressed about what is essentially a normal Sunday roast. With the addition of pork wrapped in more pork and paper hats that don’t fit anyone’s head (why are they made for giants?). Just buy some normal easy meat and possibly a nut roast as 2018 is the year I go veggie, and serve up chicken nuggets wrapped in bacon for the kids.
- Go for a walk at some point during the day.
Otherwise, you will feel like all you do is follow people around feeding them, tidying up after them, and breaking up fights over night vision goggles.
- Do NOT engage your Mother in Law in discussions about the following:
* Donald Trump (“well he didn’t have any experience of politics so you can’t blame him really”)
* Katie Hopkins (“at least she visited Calais”)
* The Royal Family (“well, of course, this new breed know nothing about tradition”) or
* any kids toys (in my day we were lucky to get an orange and some chalk).
- Do not spend loads of time and money on presents for your Mother in Law.
She will open them and then look upon them with a sense of disdain. What is she going to do with a luxury bath set, a new leather purse and a personalised mug with pictures of her grandchildren? It means finding places to keep them and acknowledging that Christmas is a time of kindness and thought, not a time to shove some money in an envelope and moan about too much food served up for Christmas Dinner.
At this point, I should point out that as much as I love my Mother in Law, and despite her good intentions, she says bonkers things and is frantic as a box of frogs. Once she genuinely tried to gift an extended member of the family a tube of Pringles. I shit you not.
- Try and spend some of Christmas doing something for yourself.
It’s a bit tricky to relax when you focus all your time on worrying about others and whether the shitting toy dog is going to block the hoover with its fake turds.
- Stop eating all the chocolate.
Your waistline will not thank you neither will your skin. Or your kids. Who were really looking forward to that selection box.
- Show the kids that Christmas is about kindness.
I’m not religious. I celebrate the spirit of giving, but I don’t want to lose sight of what true kindness is. It’s not just plastic tat and fingerlings.
They’re too young right now, but in the future, I would love to take my children to a soup kitchen, or a shelter on Christmas Day and show them how good it feels to give to others. To give stuff people really need.
My kids are so lucky. I’m so lucky. We have all we need. I think next year – less is more. Maybe they would be happy with an orange and some chalk. As long as I peel it for them and show them how to draw chalk chickens and penguins. 😉
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas. Here’s to many more that are less hectic, with fewer paper cuts, less dry white meat and more laughing and fun. That’s really what it’s all about, right?