I was at a Christmas fair a couple of weeks ago when I ran into someone I’d not seen for a while, a fellow father of small children. This in itself is unremarkable; there are plenty of parents around. The continuation of the human race largely depends on it.
What’s more, having small children myself I rarely engage with people who aren’t similarly encumbered. It’s reached the point where I no longer know how to conduct myself around those without kids. What do the childless talk about? I can see how people end up resorting to the weather.
Anecdotally I’ve heard that many parents are in the same position, their circle of friends so diminished that it consists entirely of other parents. This is a form of ghettoisation that has been sorely underresearched. I suspect it could be shown to have contributed to Brexit.
I mention my encounter because this gentleman daddy dropped into our fleeting conversation some exceedingly kind words about having enjoyed reading my articles earlier in the year. This reminded me that I haven’t written for a while so here it is. I’m back.
With Lola into the third week of her Where’s Wally Advent calendar what better topic than Christmas?
They say, don’t they, that Christmas is a time for giving. No greater truth when you have kids. Until Lola and Mina turned up I never fully appreciated what my parents went through every December, that festive test of shopping endurance which saw them sourcing a dozen presents for me and a dozen more for my brother.
Forget the cost, who has time for all that present buying? And how did they manage it pre-internet?
The annual accumulation of Christmas presents for our girls is a Herculean task which makes mucking out the Aegean stables look as straightforward as emptying the dishwasher.
At the moment Mina is easy. As a second child well-versed in cast-offs and being left outside the front door after coming back from the shops (in my defence I only did this once), she’s grateful to be given any bit of rubbish. Except when it’s a book in which case she ignores it and her sister reads it instead.
Lola is an altogether different matter, very far from easy. Her approach is to make out that she doesn’t know what she wants, hopelessly striving to think of anything to put in her letter to Santa at the start of Advent, then as the big day looms and the big jolly bloke has called time on his Christmas shopping, she comes out with a wish list that Amazon Prime would struggle to fulfil in the remaining time.
A couple of Christmas Eves ago it was sparkly shoes. Yes, the big reveal came on Christmas Eve. That made for an enjoyable afternoon trawling West London’s shopping centres. Thankfully this year Santa has received a bit more notice.
In the past Lola has talked about wanting a guitar. Never having been lucky enough to get one, her thinking has evolved, and she recently announced that for Christmas this year she’d like a violin. It doesn’t matter that she wouldn’t know how to hold one or that she explained to me the other day that the bow is called a “stick”. Despite her rudimentary knowledge of the instrument, that’s what she requested.
Fortunately, this idea seems to have fallen down her priorities. Unfortunately, it’s been replaced by an iPhone and real wings.
Where ridiculous gift requests are concerned, Lola has form.
For her fifth birthday, inspired by the film Brave, she asked for a horse and a bow and arrow. She also wanted a diamond. I neither recall the diamond in Brave nor have any idea what she intended to do with said gemstone but on the basis that her mother has given up any hope of ever getting diamonds from me, her daughter had no hope. Nor did she get the horse or the bow and arrow.
As to this year, we’ve managed to reach a relatively sensible place by persuading her to ask for something that can be bought on the high street. Hence on Christmas morning Lola will unwrap 2016’s must-have plasticky junk, or Shopkins as they’re commonly known. She can take solace from the fact that although they aren’t an iPhone or real wings, they were almost as expensive and nearly as difficult to get hold of.
Merry Christmas and I hope you get whatever you’ve asked for, no matter how outlandish.