I love this time of year.
This is the time of year I shamelessly exploit my children’s innocent beliefs in non-existent creatures for my own selfish ends.
We have the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy throughout the year, but Santa trumps them all for the power to ensure good behaviour.
Happy Chin raises his full mug of tea.
“No throw,” he says.
“Yes,” I say. “No throw. Santa’s watching.”
“Santa watching,” he intones reverently, and lowers his arm.
Brilliant! And so wrong. And also kind of creepy. Who is this red-suited fat guy who’s always watching? If he was hanging around outside the local school we’d all be calling Crime Stoppers.
I know in my heart it’s wrong, but I am stressed and overworked trying to pay for Christmas and have a million festive present and catering lists swirling round in my head. Frankly, I don’t need to be cleaning up spilled mugs of tea right this minute.
I’m also at a complete loss as to how (or even why) I should explain to Happy Chin about Santa. On the one hand, he is an adult now and deserves to be treated as such. On the other hand, he really loves Santa and Christmas and everything that goes with it, so why should I intervene? Why should I be the Christmas killjoy?
The lead up to Christmas is a period of high excitement for Happy Chin. He loves the decorations – in fact it’s only in the last two years that our decorations have stayed on the tree with any consistency. Everyone in the family loves decorating the tree. Not everyone loves doing it for 24 days, having first retrieved all the decorations from Happy Chin’s room. By December 25th we’ve all had enough and our tree usually resembles a kind of colourful Christmas vomit thrown on from one side, the tree teetering perilously towards collapse.
Happy Chin just loves tinsel and will even try to remove it from shopping centre Christmas trees. He also adores presents, but thinks every present is for him. This poses a slight problem at birthday parties. The shopping mall fake Christmas presents under the tree are often not safe from him. And it is for other families to place their wrapped presents under the tree in the days preceding Christmas. Good luck to them. I wish them well.
Our presents are pre-wrapped in utmost secrecy (in the man cave with the windows blacked out with curtains – it’s a bit like the Blitz without the air raid sirens or casualties) and then carefully hidden to be pulled out on Christmas Day. A member of the family (usually a grandparent) is then deputised as Present Guard to sit by the tree and keep Happy Chin at bay, their glass naturally assiduously topped up at regular intervals. There have to be some perks.
Advent Calendars are also a fun idea in principle, but require constant guarding. Happy Chin sees no reason to stop at one chocolate just because the number for today’s treat is 15, not 16, 17, 18 and 19. So some more creative hiding goes on. We tried the back of my car (they melted), the cupboard above the broom closet (mice got them), the cupboard under the sink (Happy Chin got them – all three of them). So this year I have conveniently forgotten to buy Advent Calendars. So far no one has noticed.
Christmas Eve reaches a complete crescendo of excitement, culminating in the traditional drive round to see the Christmas lights. A flask of hot chocolate is taken along in the vain hope of HC settling down for sleep some time before 1AM. The stocking are hung, Santa’s port and mince pies laid out, carrots and lettuce for the reindeer placed on the lawn, and then the long wait begins.
This year Happy Chin has asked Santa for Blue Headphones. That is all he wants. Blue Headphones. And they must be Loud. Green, red or yellow headphones would also be accepted apparently.
I do hope Santa is watching, and that HC gets his wish.
So a Happy Christmas to all, and to all a Happy Chin!