So, this time next week we will have torn open all our presents, danced to Slade and all the other Christmas classics (my absolute favourite being The Pogues, it’s so sad and bitter and romantic), indulged in more food than is reasonable to expect to fit in one persons stomach and made very, very merry. I can’t wait.
I love Christmas, I always have. The anticipation, the joy of seeing the house decorated all pretty and twinkly (I’m such a magpie). To be fair, I’d get on board with any celebration that involved adorning my house with fairy lights. But now I have two small children, it is even better and quite possibly more magical, than when I was a child.
I remember the day I found out that Father Christmas wasn’t real. We were at my grandparents bungalow in Dorset and I was supposed to be asleep, but I was too excited. The wait was killing me and I could hear the adults giggling and whispering so I decided to have a sneaky peak. Upon doing so, I discovered my parents bringing in all the presents from the car (how I hadn’t seen them on the journey down is beyond me?). My Mum saw me peeping and quickly putting her finger to her lips, whispered ‘ssshhhh, don’t tell Jenni’. Just like that I knew I had been hoodwinked all the years before. There was no jolly old elf in a red velvet suit, sneaking presents under the tree. It was my Mum and Dad. Worst of all, at that moment, was the idea that it was ok for me to know but not my sister, because I knew then that I had outgrown it. Or so my parents felt. It was reasonable for me to be in on the big secret, but Jenni wasn’t to know. I felt robbed but went back to bed like the good girl that I was and fell asleep. Come the morning, and seeing my sack of goodies at the end of my bed, I quickly forgave my parents for the clumsy way they let the cat out of the bag.
Fast forward 25 years and I am filling Bear and Bunni’s heads with the wonder and magic of the plump man with a white beard that believes all children deserve a present and it makes me incredibly aware that not all children are going to be so fortunate. It’s easy to get carried away and over indulge and forget all about the families who aren’t going to be having the most wonderful time of the year. So many babes in this country (and all over the globe) will wake up on Monday with no tree and nothing to open. They may even think they’ve been too naughty for Santa to visit. Worse still, some will have no heating or food. It’s heartbreaking and unforgivable in this day and age that there is so much poverty and hardship everywhere you turn.
I cannot abide spoiling children with lavish gifts when so many have so little. I hate the idea of mine being spoilt and entitled. My two little beastlies do not get hundreds of pounds worth of presents that they do not need. Presents that, like most children, they barely even glance at. At 3 and 1 year’s old respectively, they’ll be more excited about the wrapping paper and the playfulness of the day anyway.
This is without question the most difficult time of year for some. Parents up and down the country are worrying about how to provide Christmas on less than a poxy shoe string and it’s devastating. They’ve clawed and fought all year round and the ends still do not meet. The food bank will be visited. Pay day loans will be taken, making the start of 2018 (in debt) even more daunting. Morale could not be lower. I know because I saw my parents fighting to stay afloat, almost killing themselves in the process. This is the reason I vowed never to go overboard with my own babies.
So what do we do when we know others are struggling? Make no mistake, we are not wealthy. We’re not even what some would call comfortable. We’re probably somewhere just below that. But we do have enough and when it comes to Christmas Day, we will have plenty, and can afford to help those around us. I urge you to do the same. Food banks need stocking, local charities need toys so that parents can get a gift for their kid’s, women’s refuges need sanitary products and nappies for the poor girl escaping daily terror, your elderly neighbour may need a bit of company. Maybe you could spare a bag of perishable goods, or a box of tampons and a packet of nappies. Could you donate a £5 toy? Or pop in to that lonely neighbours house with a box of biccies and have a cuppa? These are things that I can do. These are things that many of us can do and I really hope that after reading this, you’ll get up tomorrow with the intention of spreading a little bit of goodwill and bring some Christmas joy to those who really need it. It doesn’t need to cost the earth, a few pennies really, but one little gesture could make someone’s Christmas.
Anyway, that’s my pitch. Now, to begin getting festively plump(er) and enjoy a cheeky Christmas tipple.