Wednesday, 30 December 2009

It's Christmas Time, there's no need to be afraid...

Rachel and Zack had a fine Christmas. Thanks for asking.

I'll be honest, we do have a bit of a problem trying to close the gap between the expectations that Rachel and Zack have about Christmas and the reality of the day. So hyped is the big day in their minds that when December 25th rolls around they seem to be struck by a deflated "Is that it?" feeling. In fact, Zack was heard to say "I can't believe that this is really Christmas Day". He said it with a slightly bemused tone, as if he expected every moment of the day to be infused with some glittery wonder. Which, of course, it wasn't.

I can recall myself being about the age that Zack is now (7, by the way, for the inattentive reader) and sitting by my bedroom window looking out at a grey Bedfordshire day thinking something like "this is weird - it's Christmas Day but everything outside looks like it always does on a cold, grey Bedfordshire day". I've no idea what I expected to be different but I recall being filled with this idea that there should be something Christmas-like about the scene on Southcourt Road.

Someone once said that everything looks more enticing wrapped up (and, yes, please feel free to extend that analysis in whichever direction you choose) and it certainly seems to apply to Christmas presents. Like everyone else with children, on the morning of the 25th, we had the experience of each present ripped open with glee, given a cursory assessment, sometimes (but not always) accompanied with suitably effusive comments, and then put aside for the next one. Most of the gifts were not returned to and had to be collected in some kind of orderly fashion by a parent.

We stayed with Hannah's family this particular Christmas and the game that was played the most was not any one of the much wanted gifts but a game between Rachel and Zack and their cousins Thomas (9) and William (11) called something like Hide-the-Walnut-in-your-Underpants. This appeared to involve William hiding a walnut in his (wait for it) underpants, and then trying to stop the others from extracting the nut from its hiding place. Nice. Zack seemed to delight in being the ringmaster in organising the debagging of William to get the walnut out. Of course, it all ended in tears (Zack's principally). Maybe we should have foregone the Hornby train set and the Meccano that suddenly looks way too complicated for its recommended age range (this 42 year old was certainly baffled by the language free instructions) and instead bought a bag of walnuts. I've always wondered why my parents put a walnut in my stocking and now I know why.