Published in the Evening Echo on 18/12/2008.
Christmas is a wonderful time of year for children. You can sense the latent anticipation as the the decorations go up and the excitement mounts. It’s wonderful for parents too: the children’s excitement fuels our own in a sort of self perpetuating feedback loop. For parents though the wonder is tempered by the burgeoning to-do-list in the run-up to the holiday’s.
Preparing for Christmas is frantic at best, complete chaos at its worst (and somehow I always seem to veer towards the latter). There’s so much to do: shopping, decorating, making lists, checking them twice, trees, school concerts, all those jobs that need “to be done by Christmas”.
It amazes me how something that’s promoted from mid-October still manages to somehow creep up on you. My theory is this: because the shops and TV adverts start getting all Christmassy before we even get Halloween out of the way, we become desensitised to the whole thing. We switch off our festive radar, and pay little heed to the tinsel, singing Santas and fairy lights. Then, all of a sudden, there are only two weeks to go and we have nothing done. So we panic!
Yes, Christmas is a busy time for us parents. But the Children have been busy too: busy learning all the lines for their school plays. The twins are playing kids who skip school, bump into visiting aliens and convince them to kidnap their teachers… it’s quite a tale. In a separate epic the little one, in her first “big-school” play, is tackling the creatively demanding role of Fairy 2, with all of two lines to deliver. She’s taking the assignment very seriously.
We’ve been subjected to seemingly endless script readings over the last few weeks, and have become intimately familiar with the thrilling ins and outs of both stories. On Thursday evening we’ll all convene in the local community hall for an 8:00pm start. That’s right, 8:00 pm! We will be treated to three plays in not-so-rapid succession: the little one’s class, followed by the twins’ class, followed by the older children of the school, who’s play tends to be equally enthralling, only longer and more drawn out. The thespian endeavours will be punctuated by an eclectic selection of dance, music and song that will endure until about 11pm.
It’s all part of the hectic and exciting run-up to Christmas.
They have been busy with other things too, of course. Making Christmas cards for family, friends and anyone else they can think of. Cutting out and gluing seems to feature heavily in this year’s artistic extravaganza; that means little off-cuts of waste paper all over the kitchen and glue on fingers, clothes and, inevitably, in hair. But it’s all good fun, and that’s the main thing.
Then there’s the very important job of list making. For the twins the list situation was finalised some time back, and apart from the occasional suggestion for stocking fillers has remained reasonably static. The little one, however, changes her mind with complete disregard for any inconvenience to Santa, and has started to trawl through the catalogues again, felt-tip market in hand, initialing whatever takes her fancy. It’s going to be something of a lottery for Santa to get it right come Christmas morning.
So Christmas is a very busy time for children…. and for parents, largely because of their children. But it’s all good fun in the end, and I guess we wouldn’t have it any other way. Before long it will all be over, and another year will stretch ahead of us burgeoning with potential and opportunity. The goal for 2009? Pretty much the same as for 2008: surviving parenthood, one day at a time.