Halloween is over and it is safe to bring up the subject of Christmas lists.
The kids know exactly what they would like to receive Christmas morning and request educational toys, lots of books and one thoughtful child has asked for a pair of runners for school. Your heart!
A lottery ticket yields a tidy sum. Nothing too obscene just enough to get you over the festive season.
The kids wave good bye from their grandparent’s front door as their mother and father head off for an afternoon of Santy shopping.
What luck! The shop is practically deserted and everything on the kids’ lists is in stock. Better still the 3 for 2 offer is still available and you save almost €200.
The shopping is completed quicker than expected and everything is packed into the car. A cup of coffee is in order.
The coffee is sipped at such a leisurely pace it goes cold. Conversation is free-flowing. Suddenly a screaming toddler perched on top of a heaving trolley catches your eye. You feel deeply for the red faced, sweating and stressed mother who is only barely holding it together. That could be me, you think as your husband catches the waitress’s eye and orders another two coffees.
On the way back to the car there is a missed text from your own mother. “Kids are fine. Why don’t you get your hair done and go out for a meal. I can drop them off in the morning. Xx”
It is Christmas morning. The kids wake quietly and in good humour at 8am. Everyone troops downstairs and opens their presents with loud and effusive thanks. “This is great! It’s exactly what I wanted.” “Look at my new runners. They’re deadly.” “This is the best day ever!”
Dinner appears on the table as if by magic and afterwards everyone gathers in front of the roaring fire to watch the Christmas matinee on TV.
Oh look, is that snow? It is. What a wonderful end to a perfect day.
Summer holidays are over and the Christmas adverts begin to appear on television. Perfect timing. Just in time for the headaches to start.
The first Christmas list is slapped in front of you on 25th October with the dire warning that “it’s not finished and I will probably change my mind.” The others want everything they see on the television. They get so caught up in the festive hype they even request the pink buggy and a rock star Bratz doll. But boys, you’re boys!
You begin to pay special attention to the catering size mayonnaise jar on top of the fridge and the superman tin can on the counter top. Neither of them are full. Write a reminder on your shopping list to do the lottery at the weekend. Even 500 would help at this stage!
You take the kids to the biggest Tesco’s in the county and try to get them to pick one big (ish) toy and one small (practically invisible) toy. The plan is for Mister Husband to take them outside so you can smuggle their choices out to the car. You act so suspiciously the security guard is two feet away from you at all times, his walkie talkie radio thing halfway between his ear and mouth.
A random toddler gets elbowed out of the way as he reaches for the helicopter your three and a half year old liked the look of. You don’t care if the toddler fell over – he has a padded bottom doesn’t he. That helicopter was only twenty quid!
At the check-out and you are informed the Star Trek torch thingy your five year old selected is “not on file” and should not have been “out on the shelf” as it “cannot be scanned” therefore “is not for sale at this moment in time.” You receive a sympathetic smile from the mother sipping a coffee with her husband in the little coffee shop on the concourse who has heard everything.
You are taking the toys in from the back of the car when the three year old catches you red handed and asks who are they for? You distract with two packets of buttons and spend the rest of the day shouting over him every time he tries to tell his older brothers all about “the Minecraft Lego and helicopters in mammy’s car.”
It is Christmas morning. You hear something. Laughing and shouting. It is 2am and the kids are awake. The kids are awake? The fucking kids are awake! Tears are not very far away. Yours. You stumble out to them and tell them Santy hasn’t been yet and they’d better go back to sleep quickly. No, you most certainly will not go downstairs to check! How do I know he hasn’t been? I just do, okay. Please, please, please go back to bed! I know it’s Christmas and no I am not crying, I am just very tired. Go on back to bed. Just for a little while. Listen! Did you hear that! Bells! I hear bells! Quick! For the love of god, quick! Don’t let him see you out of your beds. Go, go now while you still have time!!!
And it really is Christmas morning. Everyone is downstairs in their pyjamas. The sitting room is buried under wrapping paper, empty boxes and silver bits of tin foil from the chocolate coins the kids found in their stockings. The noise levels are at an all-time high. The television is in competition with the new X Box 360. The dog keeps making off with Steve from Minecraft and all you want is a cup of strong coffee but you are loathe to make one for fear of missing any of the excitement. The first hug of the day is delivered by the five year old who almost knocks you over with the force of it. “I love Christmas and I love Santy. I love you. I think I love everyone. This is the best day ever!”