We Mums take great care of our Facebook pages during the festive run-up. Prepare for snaps of presents under glittery trees; of 10-year-old Talisker left out for Santa. Of Tiddler and Toddler done up as angels, faces rosy in the candlelight, the lisping of ‘away in a Manger;’ gasps as the Christmas story unfolds.
But you can rely on me to shatter your bauble: Christmas has as many sides as a chocolate Euro. I show the cute side on Facebook, but it’s important to complain about the frustrating side, too. To quote Love Actually, ‘If you can’t show your feelings at Christmas, when can you show ‘em, eh?’
Best start moaning early, as soon as the C-word first appears in the shops some short while after Easter. To be fair, even advent is too long: it already seems to have been going on forever, yet we’re not even on the fifth day of no-you-can’t-open-tomorrow’s-window-yet-or-you-won’t-have-any-windows-to-open-tomorrow. And that’s just hubby….. (no, I am kidding. He’s gone climbing early this year).
Toddler loves making cards, which is super-cute and potentially useful too. But we keep having creative differences, escalating from simple things like me refusing to stick ‘On Your Wedding Day’ to the front of an otherwise servicable Chrsitmas Trees design, or to glue enormous pom-poms to the front of cards that have to fit inside envelopes. Yes, I know what a perfect parent would do, and admittedly the mechanic who fixed our car despite being ill, was just delighted to receive his pom-pom catterpiller Get Well card, sans envelope, delivered by hand. But his was a special case: in general I want to post my Christmas cards. I dont want them to get stuck to the inside of the envelope, either. I hate cajouling and am quite likely to loose my temper, so I’ve imposed a limit of two cards a day to save arguments.
Then there are presents. Toddler came home from nursery informing me that Father Christmas would be visiting our house, which reminded me to get a wiggle on and donate some of our toy collection to the charity shop. You’d think someone who’s vetted greyhound races could be trusted to make tough decisions, but why are the ones I’m nostalgically attached to not the toys that the kids most like to play with? Three hours of sorting later, very few culls had been made.
Then I wondered what she wanted: trickier still. I’ll never forget Mum saying outside a grotto somewhere: ‘I don’t think Father Christmas actually had a clue what you were talking about.’
I tried to protest that he was magic, but Mum later said she’d caught him in the staff-room and he’d said that he really, really wanted to bring me something else, something I’ll been asking for for several months now. He was a very busy man so she’d already said on my behalf that that would be alright. And it was.
Then comes the actual shopping. I dislike myself for allowing big corporates to dodge their tax, but it’s damned useful when things are cheap and arrive by post. December is the season of standing in the parcel office. We also talk more to our neighbour (who is in a lot) more at Christmas than at any other time of year. He is better than the parcel office because he doesn’t demand that I remember ID when I pick things up. In fact, he very often delivers. But I daren’t ask him whether he minds because I’m scared that he’ll say ‘yes.’ I’ll just make sure Toddler puts extra glitter on his Christmas card.