Saturday, 15 December 2012

The Grinch is dead

Christmas turkey

The Grinch is dead. He died nearly two years ago now. My daughter finished him off, you see.

When he was around, Christmas was a desultory old business. Like a room without a TV ­– I mean fireplace – there was just no focus, nothing to really draw the eye. In truth, my family and I essentially spent the day staring at a turkey*. We would shamble around, draped in tinsel and fairy lights, with not a child in sight. Where’s the dignity in that?

Then my daughter was born. And the Grinch was toast.

Since his demise, Christmas has become properly exciting again. Like it was during my childhood, when my parents would fill stockings knitted by Granny, and cheerfully prepare a feast for lunch.**

Now we no longer stare at a large stuffed bird for kicks; we look at my daughter instead. I won’t list the many reasons that this is an improvement, but she does say, “Ho Ho Ho” in her small squeaky voice, and seriously, show me a turkey that can do that. No, a dead one.

What I’m trying to tell you is that I’m excited about Christmas again, and it’s because of my daughter. She will have the same stocking at the end of her bed that I did. The one knitted by her Great Granny, who she never met. She will find a tangerine at the bottom of it, just as I did. Which will secretly disappoint her a tiny bit, just as it did me. It’s tradition.

So perhaps my rediscovered festive cheer is not only down to a dead Grinch. Perhaps motherhood has made me the kind of sentimental fart that bores the pants off everyone around the Christmas table. And every family needs one of those. That’s tradition too.

Happy Christmas!

* Yes, yes, we could have stared at the Christmas tree but we REALLY like to eat. We’re very greedy.
** My teenage door-slamming sessions and hours spent smoking from my bedroom window don’t fit the narrative and will therefore not be recorded here.

Something more important

While I was writing this post I learned – via Shelter’s Christmas Campaign – that 75,000 children in Britain will be homeless this Christmas. That’s more than two children in every primary school.
My daughter and I are lucky. Reading through the above, with the Shelter campaign in mind, I see just how lucky.
Please visit the Shelter website to find out more

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Bad Santa

Christmas tree baubles

Oh Bad Santa, it could have been so good. The Grotto, the elves, the sitting on your knee. Rudolph.
But sadly it was not to be. No. Instead there was screaming. Dear God, the screaming…

So we went to visit Father Christmas in his grotto (Harrods outpost). A lovely day out for my daughter and her best friend, were it not for the terror. 

It all started in ‘Santa’s Library’. Santa’s Library has crowd control barriers that slice up the room. It also has TV screens, fluorescent lighting and one of those large plasma globe things. It crackles with electrical activity. Essentially, Santa’s Library is a kind of super-charged, festive passport control.

We are all happy, though, and Santa’s helpers are sweet – waving and chatting to the toddlers. Excitedly we imagine how the grotto might be: a cozy place, full of presents and cheer, a kindly old man holding court. Damn, it’s gong to be BRILLIANT!

There are several doors leading from Santa’s Library. Several doors to several rooms. Hmmm. This can’t be right; this can’t be right AT ALL. There are several doors to several GROTTOS! Just how many Santas are there in this place?

Still, the little ones are, of course, oblivious to this disturbing turn of events and we are ushered through to meet a Father Christmas. 

Which is when the screaming began.

The grotto is bare and appears to be fashioned from molded plastic. On a plastic pew sits a Santa. He is lovely and twinkly and just as he ought to be. The toddlers wail. Begging for mercy, they scramble wildly to put distance between themselves and the guy with the beard.

The Father Christmas is crestfallen. This is the third time in succession his appearance has elicited such a panic response, he tells us. We leave, consoling our babies and the Santa too. We forgo the photograph; it wouldn’t have been very celebratory, what with all the screaming. 

The exit is on the opposite wall of the grotto from the entrance, leading us far away from the children waiting happily in festive passport control. This way, presumably, they will not be freaked out by the ashen faces of frightened toddlers.

My dear friend is muttering darkly that the whole set-up reminds her of a brothel. She’s right: all those doors and rooms and wipe clean surfaces. I shudder.

But you know what? We’re in Harrods. Maybe we’ll just shop to forget, yes? It’s Christmas; there is the Food Hall.  Oh, and look at that, there’s a doggy grooming parlour too.