It's the most wonderful time of the year - and has been for a few weeks already!

We are in the grip of Christmas mania, make no mistake about it.

Tuesday, 4th December 2018, 5:34 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 8:22 am
Already on his third grotto of the season, Blaise is feeling festive

Sir Elton’s schmaltzy advert has been on for so long that the child actor at the end is now shaving and there are millions of lunatics who have had their trees up for the best part of a fortnight.

Everywhere you look, there are decked out shops and offices with workers limbering up for the next festive party. Personally, I am fully locked in and have already started on the stashed chocolate and posh nuts, you know, the ones that aren’t dry roasted.

When I am not stuffing my cakehole with overpriced yuletide treats, I am mainly queuing up to see Father Christmas with our youngest - we are readying ourselves for the third meeting of the season already. I realise this contradicts every parenting manual ever written but I have never listened to the advice of others, especially po-faced ‘experts’.

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I am a sucker for the magic of this time of year and you don’t get anything more magical than the look on a pre-schooler’s face when he is confronted by a stranger in a polyester red suit and a fake beard.

Yes, it can be confusing for most children to see the Big Man more than once before December 25th, but the joy of having a three year old is that they are easily convinced, especially if there is a bribe on offer. Usually, that is.

Our first grotto visit of the year, which, I am ashamed to say, occurred a week before the start of December, saw our spirited nipper take Lapland’s best known resident to task for not giving him the gift that he had asked for a full 60 seconds before.

The small Rudolph toy, which had been thrust into his hands by Mr Claus Mk 1, was promptly launched into the November air with all the power of a Russian shot putter. It took about an hour for Mrs Tapp and I to explain the concept of waiting a month for the main event to the distraught little fella, but we got there in the end.

The second meeting passed off without incident and our inquisitive little boy was too engrossed in his latest gift to ask why this Santa sounded and looked completely different to the one he had met a week later.

The real magic of Christmas is the complete and utter buy in that you get from young children and, while the whole ‘Santa knows if you’ve been naughty’ shtick is doomed to failure with most kids over the age of five, his influence over the average Peppa Pig devotee is very real.

We are relative newcomers to the Elf on the Shelf ruse, which is when desperate parents enlist the help of an elf doll, which, every day, adopts a different position to ‘spy’ on already over excited children. I am pretty sure it would work better than it does if I were to remember to help the little blighter move to a different location every night, but keeping on top of the rules of 21st Century parenting is pretty befuddling.

Christmas really is the best time to be a parent, although there are plenty of obstacles to overcome.

I am only grateful that our sceptical nine year old hasn’t asked how a no deal Brexit might impede Santa’s freedom of movement in little over a year’s time.