We put our Christmas decorations up early on Sunday morning. For the first time, small daughter was able to help instead of discovering the next morning that the fairies had decorated the house overnight. She was delighted, greeting the ornaments to go on the tree like long lost friends and wanting to eat all the chocolate decorations at once, just in case they melted. We put on our Christmas CDs and bounced around the house in pyjamas and Santa hats, agreeing that the weather outside really was frightful, even though it was howling wind and rain instead of snow.
The day before, small daughter went with my husband to his company’s children’s Christmas party – this year a pantomime in a theatre in Crewe (not a random town choice, his office is based there!). They went on the train, armed with a picnic and a flashing toy to wave at the pantomime baddy, then took a taxi to the theatre. Small daughter was beside herself with excitement even before she got on the train, so it was little surprise that during a quiet moment in the performance, she shrieked, “You’re a loser!” at the wicked queen and made everyone laugh.
Christmas is such a magical time. We forget, in the rush to buy presents and food and get everything done on time just how lovely it all is. Small daughter, unencumbered by the necessities of getting ready for Christmas, is enjoying the build-up more and more as every day passes. Her excitement is infectious; big daughter often forgets that it’s not cool to get over-excited about it all and joins in with abandon. They compare treats in their advent calendars and stand together to watch their advent candles burn down to the next number. Then small daughter gets out the Argos catalogue again and asks me if she can add yet another toy to her Christmas list.
I do wonder sometimes what Christmas would be like if the TV didn’t show adverts of things to buy, but of course that’s never going to happen. The world is based on buying and selling and advertisers earn their livings by making us believe that we want things that we never knew we wanted. It seems unfair to me that with everyone suffering from the economic climate, advertising becomes slicker and more sophisticated and the must-have gifts are the ones that people can least afford.
My girls finish school earlier in December than usual thanks to the way that Christmas falls this year, so I am determined to have all the buying, wrapping and list-making out of the way by the time that they break up. We’ll have a week to have fun and do our best to add to the Christmas excitement without the help of things that we don’t need to buy. With any luck, we’ll be able to start one or two new Christmas family traditions that my girls will be able to keep forever, as that sort of thing has no sell by date and is quite simply priceless.