The house has been de-Christmased. The last of the seasonal food is gone. And I managed to survive my first day back in the office for two weeks (although I did forget half my passwords). But before I wave goodbye to the Christmas and New Year holidays for another year, here’s one final observation about the festive season.
Why do we make such a song and dance about Christmas? After all, it’s just one day out of an entire year. You don’t see grown men and women coming to blows over the only remaining space in Tesco’s car park or buying two weeks’ worth of food to cater for visiting relatives for two days at Easter, do you? And yet every year we pile into shops and websites, upgrading from standard to premium toilet paper and spending hundreds upon hundreds of pounds on gifts that will only end up on eBay by New Year.
Why do we do it? It’s for the children – or, at least, it is in our household.
The rationale goes on and on. We do it to see the smiles and hear the shrieks of excitement when they discover the pile under the tree on Christmas morning. Seeing them happy and grateful validates that we must therefore be good parents, if only for one day. Or maybe a few hours. Okay, five minutes, or however long it takes them to complete the ripping of the wrapping, whichever is less.
It’s more than just Christmas morning, though. Pretty much the entire month leading up to Christmas is a crescendo of anticipation and the ability for parents to use the naughty-or-nice list as leverage for good – or, at least, less hair-tearingly bad – behaviour. Nativity plays, Christmas carols, horrendous knitted jumpers.
In our household, like in many others, the weeks leading up to Christmas have been about the kids having fun. And, through them, us parents experience the magic of a second childhood’s worth of Christmases.
Isaac entertained us for weeks as he practised the songs for his nativity play (with Toby learning them and joining in too). Kara bounced happily around to the sound of Slade on TV.
We’ve had glow-stick parties. (Top tip: invest in a job lot of glow sticks, turn out the lights, let the kids burn off some steam and stand by with a camera.)
And it’s the one time of year when kids and grown-ups alike can wallow joyously in front of seasonal movies – Die Hard for me, Elf for the kids – and other suitably child-friendly films. In Kara’s case, that means more dancing.
You see, the reason we make such a song and dance about Christmas is so that our children can make a song and dance about it themselves. Literally, in the case of our kids.
Was it worth all the expense and the stress? You betcha. Which is why I’ll be first in line to do it all again this December.