The joy of Christmas returned once I had children | Blaise Tapp
I have always been a fan of the festive period but have long thought it should only start within a week or so of the big day.
I was once a fully-fledged member of the army of moaners that endlessly complains about shops putting up Christmas displays while there were still green leaves on the trees, and was always deeply suspicious of grown-ups who went on about the season to be cheerful a little too often.
But now I am one of those bug-eyed fanatics who wants to suck up all that is good about Christmas.
I cannot pinpoint exactly when this Chevy Chase-esque conversion occurred but it probably has something to do with the fact that I share a house with two festive fanatics.
My kids have been talking about December 25 since before pumpkins went on sale in supermarkets, despite there being a rule that the c-word mustn’t be mentioned until after bonfire night.
The rule is designed to keep the lid on our excitement, although the year’s first seasonal blockbuster was viewed in our house during the October half-term.
This will be viewed as unhealthy by many but, during my 10 years of being a dad every Christmas has become that little bit more special, probably because of the growing realisation that there are a finite number of years left before the ‘magic’ wears off for a good couple of decades until the grandchildren rock up. Hopefully.
My 10-year-old is in that difficult transition period. Despite being all hair and attitude, she is still very much a child and one who ostensibly believes, although that is probably her largely hedging her bets.
With the four-year-old, we are slap bang in the middle of that golden age of childhood and the excitement ahead of Santa’s visit in little less than a month’s time is already at fever pitch. Last week began with a Monday morning meltdown, prompted by the reality that it wasn’t Christmas morning, even though he had been informed of that fact at least a dozen times a day earlier.
Should I take a firmer line and remind them both that there are still at least 20-odd sleeps until a rotund white-haired man slips his way into our home during the dead of the night, via a chimney? Should I heck!
Childhood is over in a flash, so why not make those memories as special as they can be? Of course, that does involve money being spent, but the key to a happy Christmas – just like the ones I enjoyed in the eighties – is the anticipation of what is to come, which not only involves presents but is crucially a celebration of family life.
Like most parents, we are keen that our kids aren’t just focussed on what they will find under the tree.
Our local church is handing out reverse Advent calendars, which come with stickers reminding us all of the things we should be thankful for.
Each day our children will be asked to put non-perishable essentials into a box which, once filled, will be passed on to those who need it. As gestures go, it is a small one, but it serves as a reminder that this time of year isn’t just about cheesy footballs and prawn rings.
I make no apologies for writing about Christmas in November. Rather that than the bore-fest that is the general election campaign.