All I Want For Christmas

All I Want for Christmas Blog Post - Eloise and Santa

Santa’s Lap

We took our seven-month-old baby daughter, Eloise, to visit Santa the other day. Santa, astutely, summed up the situation as a photo opportunity and so didn’t bother with the pleasantries of asking the baby what she wanted for Christmas.

After we left Santa’s air-conditioned grotto, I realised I lost my opportunity to tell him what I wanted for Christmas. If he wasn’t going to ask the baby, then to get our full money’s worth during the Santa visit experience, someone should be asked. There is probably some health and safety regulation that restricts grown-ups from actually sitting on Santa’s lap, but just thinking about it made me wonder what do I want for Christmas?

I guess at the time all I wanted was a lovely photo of Eloise and Santa that I could plaster all over social media and get ‘oh cute’ comments back. But now I have had my Facebook dopamine fix I wish I had thrown caution to the wind and clambered onto Santa’s lap. Instead, I have done the next best thing and prepared a list. I have had it on good authority that Santa occasionally reads my blog (if only to get tips on keeping the elves in order).

 

Say YES to LESS

Children are easily able to launch into a myriad of materialistic wants and desires. A bike, no TWO bikes in red AND blue, a trampoline, enough Lego to build a bridge to the moon. Us grown-ups are far more humble in our requests.

I know I do not need more stuff. I have plenty of everything. I have said it before but I am beyond blessed with my first world existence. What started as a humble notion of wanting less, not more, has become even more appealing as I realise how far-reaching the idea can be.

I want less mental stress, less notifications, less news drivel. I would very much like less Kardashian. I am not advocating exterminating the family, but a day or two off from their constant penetration into my cultural awareness would be nice.

 

The Intangibles

Saying YES to LESS is quite easy, and to be frank, a bit of a cop out, I mean everyone wants less Kardashian don’t they? I now realise I was focusing on the ‘less’ because what I really want for Christmas is nebulous and hard to explain.

What I would like is a chance to simply finish something. I want to feel like I have accomplished something from beginning to end, without interruption. This can include all sorts of things such as the TED talk I am currently trying to watch, the hot cup of strawberry and rhubarb tea that I have put down somewhere, or this blog post. If you are reading this, I succeeded in completing at least one out of these three things.

I would love to spend more quality time with my children, with my husband and by myself. I don’t know how to reconcile these ambitious wishes AND still have time in the day to brush my teeth.

I want to feel, even fleetingly, some Christmas magic. You know the feeling – that one we all strive for at this time of year. I lost it for a long time after four consecutive years working behind the perfume counter at a major department store during the festive season. Over the past few years it has found its way back, albeit in an ephemeral fashion. Sometimes it arrives in look of an exquisitely wrapped gift or in the smile on Dylan’s face when he spots festive lights. Luckily, there is one guaranteed way of attaining it and that, of course is with the mandatory annual viewing of ‘Love Actually’.

 

Topsy-Turvy

But if I have to narrow it down to one thing, what I would like more than anything else is to know how to explain this topsy-turvy world to my children.

How can a 15 second video of rat transporting a slice of pizza down some stairs get over 8.5 million views and be the most sort after Halloween costume of 2015, yet human slavery be a bigger problem than it was 150 years ago?

How can it be possible to order a burger via emoji but there not be safe, clean drinking water available for everyone?

What sort of world do we live in where news coverage centres on 20-year-old Kendall Jenner celebrating 40 million Instagram followers by exposing her nipple instead of the largest diaspora of Middle Eastern and African people since ancient time?

Phew.

Poor Santa.

 

Baby Wishes

No wonder Santa doesn’t ask grown-ups like me what we want. He would be stuck with a long queue of grisling children and a leg that has gone to sleep by the time I am finished talking about ‘pizza rat’ and the refugee crisis.

Perhaps he should have asked Eloise what she would like for Christmas after all. Maybe if we all think about what a baby would like things again become simple and clear-cut. I am pretty sure Eloise would be more than content with lots of hugs, kisses and laughter, plus a warm home, something nom-nom to eat, and of course, plenty of wrapping paper to rip and loll around on.

Mmmm, sounds perfect. In fact, that is all I want for Christmas after all. Well that and to watch ‘Love Actually’.

Festive greetings to you all. Love Julie, Andrew, Dylan and Eloise.

 

References

Pizza Rat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPXUG8q4jKU

 

Burgers by emoji: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2015-08/27/burger-burger-london

 

Kendall Jenner on Instagram: http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/kendall-jenner-exposes-nipple-raunchy-6771235

 

Human slavery: http://www.alternet.org/story/142171/there_are_more_slaves_today_than_at_any_time_in_human_history

 

Clean drinking water: http://internationalreportingproject.org/stories/view/is-it-possible-to-access-clean-water-using-your-cell-phone

 

Refugee crisis: http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-middle-east-diaspora-descends-on-europe-1440975497

 

All I Want for Christmas - Xmas Unicorn

The ‘I Will Never’ Game

The 'I Will Never Game' Blog Post - Dylan and Santa

Childhood Distress

I swore that I would never ever wet a handkerchief and use it to scrub something off my child’s face. This was something that happened many times throughout my childhood and I absolutely loathed it. Yes, my mother was one of those mothers. She would even do it to other people’s children.

Yet, unbelievably, the other day, I caught myself licking my finger to wipe some pen marks off Dylan’s face. I just lost again at the ‘I Will Never’ Game.

 

The Game

I have called it the ‘I Will Never’ game, although you probably didn’t think it was a game at the time. It may have started when you were very young. Most probably when your parents did something gross or embarrassing to you in public.

Or you may have added to your ‘I Will Never’ list in your head as you got older and saw some example of parenting that you disagreed with. In my twenties I remember seeing a harassed looking mother yelling at her child in the middle of the supermarket, and thought, ‘I will never do that’.

Then when we found out we were expecting Dylan we added to our growing ‘I Will Never’ list. I decided I would never force food into my child’s mouth, I wouldn’t use food as a reward and my child would never go without at least some vegetables on his dinner plate. And that is just the food list!

I am sure you have done it too. Said to yourself: I will never use a dummy, overspend on birthdays or say clichéd things about money to my kids (“it doesn’t grow on trees”).

I read up on all the scary dangers of too much screen time for tots and decided I would never let my son watch more than half an hour of TV a day, and definitely not have any screen time until he was over two. (All the reasons to decide this seemed very compelling at the time but I couldn’t tell you what they are now).

This ‘I Will Never’ list is usually only in your head but if you took the time to write it out and put it in front of any parent, they would fall about laughing like they all do at that end of every ‘Peppa Pig’ episode. I know this because it is Dylan’s favourite TV program.   Well it’s a tie between that and ‘Thomas’.

 

The Santa Claus Myth

Take another example. In the glow of my first pregnancy I started questioning whether I wanted to perpetuate the culturally acceptable lies that accompany the legion of Santa Claus. In a flush of pre-natal philosophy, I did a simple equation: Santa is a lie – lying is bad – thus there shall be no Santa myth in our household.

Of course this lasted to Dylan’s first Christmas when he was only eight months old and wouldn’t have understood Santa as different from the nose on his face. Partly what changed was that I was worn down by society’s expectations. The path of least resistance is much easier to tread. And I really didn’t want to be the mum of that child – the one that screeches in the middle of daycare that “THERE IS NO SANTA”.

But really when it comes down to it, I lie to Dylan a LOT. Probably every day. “No you can’t have another lolly as there are none left.”, “Peppa Pig is not on TV now – go outside and play.”, “We can’t go to your friend’s house – they are sleeping/ not at home.”

So really, the Santa thing – well that is one of the good lies.

 

Values versus Reality

So why do we play this game? Why do we think our situation will be different? Why do we set ourselves up to fail? I guess it is because ideals such as being honest are very important and we want to teach our children to value them.

So what do we do? How do we reconcile the ideals and values that underlie our ‘I Will Never’ lists with the reality of parenting a living, breathing separate human being? In other words, how do I turn around at a later date and point out that lying is bad even though that is exactly what I have been doing to Dylan for his whole life?

I guess it all comes down to teaching our children to aspire to our highest values (the truth, being healthy, something about less TV), but also that the world is complicated and messy and not all situations will slot easily into rules and lists. Walking the fine line between these two opposing things is what being a parent is all about.

And it also means that you will always lose at the ‘I Will Never’ game.

However, if that means that I get to see Dylan’s eyes sparkle when the Christmas tree lights turn on, or he surprises me with a verse of ‘Jingle Bells’, or he bursts out with a “Merry Christmas Everyone” in the middle of the mall, then I am absolutely fine with losing at this particular game.

Festive Greetings to you all. Love Julie, Andrew and Dylan.

The 'I Will Never Game' Blog Post - Christmas Bucket List