It’s been quite a day: a sugar-fuelled blur of childish overenthusiasm, gaudily coloured baubles and twinkling fairy lights. And the boys were quite excited too.
In previous years, the build-up to Christmas in our house has been postponed until after Isaac’s birthday (December 6th). However, our oldest child himself declared several weeks ago that he was so excited at the prospect of Christmas this year that it was okay for us to start preparing for it ahead of his birthday – and could we put the tree up now? This was November 2nd. Eventually we agreed that we would start decorating the house as soon as it was December.
In the intervening weeks, I have taken Isaac to his school Christmas fair where he met Santa Claus – not, I suspect, for the last time this year – and have taken both boys on individual shopping trips to bolster our supply of festive decorations. Note to self: never do that again. The combination of an enthusiastic child and a father who is less restrained with his credit card than an alcoholic behind an unattended bar inevitably leads to an outlay which is as large as it is predictable. (I’m confident it will give the UK economy a significant boost, though.)
Anyhow, today – December 1st – dawned. Actually it was pre-dawn, 5:30am to be precise, when Isaac dragged me downstairs, repeatedly asking if I could bring the tree down from the loft like a broken record. Advent calendars were opened. Second note to self: excitable children plus chocolate, not a good combination. Eventually said tree was retrieved from the loft along with boxes of old decorations, and so the day-long process could begin. And I do mean day-long, although if Isaac and Toby had had their way we would have done everything simultaneously and straight away.
Tree assembled, check. Secondary tree for boys’ bedroom, check. Lights and decorations mounted on main tree by the boys, check. Decorations surreptitiously redistributed by parents so they’re not all clustered in one tiny area of the tree, check.
And so it continued. Tinsel was wrapped all over the house – and the multitudinous fallen-off bits hoovered up. Outdoor lights were hung over the garage, but not before it had taken me ten minutes – much of it spent cursing under my breath – disentangling the wires. More lights on the boys’ tree. A further spare set wrapped artlessly around Isaac’s bed. Wreath mounted on the front door. Snow-sprayed stencil shapes in the windows. From mid-morning through to mid-afternoon, our house was a non-stop frenzy of activity designed to cover every available inch of space. The boys spent much of that time doing passable impressions of Tigger on LSD after downing a gallon of espresso. Even Kara – all six months of her – seemed quite swept up in the whole thing.
I’m not complaining, though. For the next four weeks or so the boys will be lost in their own Christmassy winter wonderland, and it would take the most flint-hearted Scrooge of a parent not to share in their excitement. I’ve said before that becoming a parent has enabled me to reconnect with my own childhood and rekindle my enthusiasm for the festive season. Advent is once again a big adventure, and if that means finding bits of tinsel and glitter all over the house for the next three months, it’s a small price to pay.