When I was a kid the best 24 hours of every year spanned Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. December was a magical month too, the big build up full of fun. With lots of presents to pretend to be patient about, we all believed the tales we were told.
Going above and beyond, by the time Father Christmas gets to Spain his twin helps out. There’s very few chimneys to go down so they climb the walls instead. Plonk the presents on a balcony, and parents creep about in the middle of the night to retrieve them. Quite plausible really.
Here they are scaling the upper part of a garden wall between two houses, so they must work daytime shifts too.
Clever that, they can save time and do both at once.
Unfortunately, when they don’t work together as a team, things can go drastically wrong. Getting stuck up a telegraph pole is not clever at all.
Should’ve gone to Specsavers. /OO\
My dad was, still is a joker,, can´t wrap humour in a box tied with ribbons, even so it´s been passed on from generation to generation. Perhaps the biggest gift of all.
I remember my mum making labels for presents from last years Christmas cards, and showing me how to wrap / tuck presents up using the same principle as hospital corners on a bed sheet. Even that was fun.
Previous to finding out Father Christmas wasn´t real, in the days running up to the BIG one, there were only boxes of crackers, bits of tinsel and sparkly things sat under our tree. No sign of presents at all. If that sounds miserable, it was all part of the Christmas tree joke plan, which went something like:
“Ahh, well you can´t see your presents yet, because they only get delivered on Christmas Eve.” My dad´s cheesy grin eased my troubled mind. He wouldn´t look happy, and his eyes wouldn´t light up in time with the Christmas tree´s if our house was exempt. He owned the very first version of a satirical Smiley Face.
“So why have other people got presents under their trees then?”
“Because they send them all back to him first.”
“Why don´t we do that?”
“He saves himself time when he doesn´t have to go up and down the chimney twice.”
It worked did that for a while. As did the mince pie, the list of goodies on demand, and the thank you letter sat waiting. There was even talk of a “Mrs Christmas” but I wasn’t convinced.
By the age of eight or so, some of my friends were beginning to discuss the same dreaded notion that was also festering in my mind. “There´s no such thing as Father Christmas.” But we didn´t dare discuss it in depth, because there might be no presents for children who knew.
We´d learned a few things at school by that time, like:
- Reindeer can´t fly and don’t have red noses.
- There wouldn´t be enough room on his sledge full of presents, even if it was just for the kids in our avenue. Those two new bikes for Bill and Bob next door would´ve been a tight squeeze alone.
- Another tight squeeze would be getting down a chimney. Even if he sliced chimney pots off first, he´d never get down one with that fat belly.
- I also had evidence,, in a previous year I saw my dad eat Father Christmas´s mince pie. He reminded me that mum´s made lots of them and replaced it, but that empty plate sat there far too long on Christmas Eve for my liking. A priority not prioritised.
- More evidence,, we must´ve been posher than I thought. There was always a pillowcase full of extra little presents at the bottom of the bed on Christmas morning. Not worthy of being under the Christmas tree, not on the Christmas list either. Except I once saw my mum wander into my bedroom carrying the pillowcase of goodies. With one eye open I watched as she tripped up and nearly fell over. Yes it was definitely my mum, she mumbled Whoops! and giggled. Hmm.
However, the really good stuff was all downstairs, yes, under the tree at last. The seed of doubt was eliminated when we got to the bottom of the stairs, and ran towards the Christmas tree while my dad was still saying “I wonder if he’s bee…”
Even better,, Father Christmas had taken the time to separate mine and my sisters so there was no arguing. There was much potential even though they were all clearly labelled with ex Christmas cards from last year. This preventative measure meant that the worst it got was “Stay over your side, this sides mine.”
I´d seen Father Christmas everywhere, but he always looked different. Towards the end of true realisation, I was taken to see him (as usual) and pulled his wonky white beard. OH MY GOD IT WAS STUCK ON WITH ELASTIC! HE KNEW I KNEW AND WOULD TELL MY MUM AND DAD.
By the time January arrived the evidence was too great, and the seed of doubt returned.
True realisation occurred when later that year when we had central heating and a gas fire installed. Did he know how to pick door locks?
There was nothing to lose anymore, I had to tell my mum and dad before elastic man did. Thankfully it was a relief to discover that nothing changed on the present list, except this was classic content for my dad to continue with the pretend pretence, even into my teens.
At the age of 13 I was still getting told to behave myself in December, else “Father Christmas won´t bring any presents.”
As parents ourselves, we too kept the pretence going for as long as possible, even when we knew the kids knew, but it hadn’t been discussed yet.
Beyond that we all still pretend don´t we? Yes, a jolly good time can be had by one and all old bean.
Reverse the principle, I still can´t believe we now spend Christmas Day down at the beach, next to the Med, drinking Champagne, then partying long into the early hours.