What a wonderful time of the year.
Carol singing by candlelight, lazily strolling around a continental market your gloved hands snugly clutching a cup of steaming hot chocolate. Your loving husband laying a gentle hand on your cashmere covered shoulder as you delicately hang the handknitted stockings above a roaring log fire on Christmas Eve…..
Then you wake up with a start to find that you were drooling in your sleep and someone’s pissed on your leg.
If you’ve parented your way through at least one Christmas, you’ll have been dealt the harsh lesson that expectation NEVER transpires into reality. With 6 Christmases as a parent under my tight-fitting belt (mince pies help to numb the pain, OK?), I felt it only fair that I draw on some of my own experience in the hope of preventing significant disappointment to those with high hopes of a Christmas with little ones…
1. Candy Canes and Other Edible Tree Decorations
There’s nothing that channels your inner Kevin McCallister quite like a few candy canes hanging on the tree. The reality is that the candy canes will be opened, licked then stuck back into the tree, chocolate decorations will be eaten in their entirety and ultimately your tree will be a vision of saliva doused, cracked, candy canes and balls of empty foil wrappers.
2. Elf on the Shelf
You’ve found so many sweet little ideas on Pinterest for Santa’s mischievous aide.
Things will go well on Days 1 to 3. On Day 4 you’ll be getting into bed and realise the Elf on the Shelf is still lying on top of the toy kitchen. You’ll hurry down and haphazardly arrange him headfirst into a bag of sugar or something equally imaginative.
By Day 5 you’ll be drinking in the afternoon to help you forget.
3. Battery Hell
Novice parents often fall into the trap of presuming they’re ready for the arrival of Father Christmas because they have a 6-strong stash of sweet little AA batteries in the cupboard.
Take the number of AA batteries you have and multiply it by 324, go to your nearest shop and buy 400 AAA batteries, and then ask for a dozen of each of their most obscure batteries that no one EVER buys – like the rectangular ones and the giant, cumbersome cylindrical D ones.
Now you’re ready.
4. Wrapping Paper
You’ve spied the most gorgeous wrapping paper for an absolute bargain of a price in your nearest pound store. You buy reams of it and prance home signing Jingle Bells and feeling like Santa himself. All’s well and good until you’re transporting presents you’ve wrapped in the stuff and a forceful sneeze causes the paper to rip.
After Christmas, you’ll come over all thrifty and decide to save any leftover paper for next year. By 10th January however, the kids will have discovered the wrapping paper on one of their daily wrecking ball benders and you’ll be immediately questioned as to why you have the same wrapping paper as Santa.
In terms of expectations it’s best for have none for the crackers. Yes, I know you’ve spent £35 on “luxury” ones from M&S, but you’re still going to come away with a set of mini playing cards and a fancy paper clip, except you’ll get a metal one instead of a plastic one for your trouble.
Oh and don’t be the person who takes out the little explosive strip from the inside to pull it if it didn’t go off during the main event.
No one wants you to take it that far.
Disclaimer – Christmas is the best bloody time of the year. It nearly killed me to write about it in such a negative light. I’m off to drown my sorrows in a vat of mulled wine and mincemeat. Do you have high hopes for the festive season or are you a parent?!