“I really like Christmas. It’s sentimental, I know, but I just really like it….I’ll be seeing my dad, my brother and sisters, my gran and my mum. They’ll be drinking white wine in the sun. And you won’t understand, but you will learn some day, that wherever you are, and whatever you face, these are the people who make you feel safe in this world. My sweet, blue eyed girl. And if, my baby girl, when you’re 21 or 31, and Christmas comes around, and you find yourself 9000 miles from home, you’ll know whatever comes, your brothers and sisters and me and your mum will be waiting for you in the sun.”
– Tim Minchin, White Wine in the Sun
Oh Christmas! The preparation started about October (I’m only half joking). We say it every year but it’s true – the shops really do seem to start stocking Christmas things the moment Halloween finishes. Gone are the Novembers full of jaws stuck tight with bonfire toffee – replaced now pinterest boards of Elf on the Shelf ideas, and a tv schedule full of Kirstie Allsopp. By the time December starts, everything is geared towards Christmas.
George started school this year, and since half term ended he’s been dizzy on a diet of Christmas songs (not of the O Come Ye variety, but newfangled songs about Brussels sprouts). He’s collected a cool ten Christmas cards from children at school I’m not sure he really knows. The toddler enjoys the lights and the increase in her daily chocolate provision. The moment school broke up last Friday, George came home and, giddy with excitement, immediately climbed into a large box. He stayed there for nearly an hour, his sister feeding him chocolate tree decorations as sustenance.
I’ve become vaguely scathing about Christmas this year, despite being so festive I can practically shit glitter. I bloody love Christmas. I loved going to see my son in his first Christmas show at school. It was only 10 minutes of nativity based stuff, which was a small mercy. If you know what it’s like to have one four year old tell you a story, try having 45 four year olds and 30 three year olds telling you a story you already know IN UNISON. So well done school. They did 45 minutes of Christmas songs, and George played the classic role of “Boy from Zambia” in their song about Christmas around the world. We also had his class party and Christmas jumper day to sustain the excitement/elevated blood sugar levels.
It’s true what they say. Christmas is for kids. Certainly my Christmases as a student spent with a bit of tinsel wrapped around pole pale in comparison to what I have today, and I’m only marginally more sober these days.*
I’m struggling a bit with Santa. I’ve spent so much of the past few years instilling a sense of honesty and fairness in him, that it feels disingenuous to tell him that Santa brings him presents. I mean, George really believes. He’s a card carrying member of the Santa Party. He is convinced it’s the Santa and not me who brings him his presents on Christmas morning, and he’s already threatened to stay up all night on Christmas Eve to catch Santa in the act. He’s smart though – we have a gas fire, the type that’s like a fake wood burner with glass doors. He cannot fathom how Santa will not get stuck inside that tiny stove. And I lied to him. Looking deep into his blue, shining eyes, I told him that Santa is Magic. Hi, my name’s Caroline, and I’m a massive hypocrite. Sherry, anyone?
*I am not a heavy drinker – since having two children my tolerance to alcohol is terrible and I am merry on one glass of wine.
Anyway, Christmas isn’t just about presents and songs. I suppose for some people their faith is an important factor. It doesn’t feature in this house, but I don’t really think that matters. To me, Christmas is bringing light and warmth into my family at the darkest time of the year. It’s a feast with family.
It’s a whole day with my parents, my husband, our children, my sister and her husband, and their precious boy. It’s going to the In Laws on Boxing Day, for more mayhem, walking their dog in the field, watching old films and playing silly games. It’s about love. Not santa. Not presents. Not violently shoving other shoppers out of your way as you charge through the shops on Black Friday. It’s mushy, I know, but Christmas is about love. And I love it.