So, that time of year that creeps up on you from about mid-August is finally within sight. You can no longer scoff when you see the shops have thrown up Christmas all over the place and are actively trying to shove it down your throat. No, it’s time to give in to the enforced merriment of the season. And I know I sound like Scrooge on a particularly bad day, but when you have small children who have been asking how many days it is until Christmas since the summer holidays, it does become a little tedious. Having said that, when December hits, I’m all for it. I’ll watch the cheesy Christmas films, stuff mince pies into my mouth, and even break open the glitter in my classroom (my sincerest apologies to the cleaning staff who I will gift with lots of choccy and biscuits). Trust me, you can put the damn stuff in a tray and tell the children to sprinkle it inside of said tray, but you can guarantee the moment your back is turned, you’ll hear an intake of shocked breath, followed by a ‘Miss, Ben’s dropped the tray on the floor!’ And that’s it – your classroom looks like a unicorn just had a bad bout of diarrhoea all over the floor.
Anyway, I thought I’d share with you some of the Scott’s Christmas traditions, or what I like to call it, that time of year when all logic and common sense flies out the window. See if you can identify with a few:
- Christmas TV – I’ll admit, I do enjoy a good film, particularly feel-good movies that as a child, gave me a false view of life. When my first boyfriend and now husband professed his love for me, it was not while gifting me flowers, declarations of adoration, and with a full orchestra playing some insipid music behind us. No, as I have mentioned before, it was while I was hiding under the table in the Nicol’s building and with him laughing hysterically because he was a fifteen-year-old boy who had already been chasing after me for three years. However, Christmas films are one of the few romcoms you can watch without worrying about whether your impressionable young daughters will catch sight of a naked bottom bouncing up and down. Do they give them an exaggerated idea of how Christmas will actually play out? One hundred percent. The best one I’ve seen to date portrays a young teacher at the end of the day in the lead-up to Christmas with a flawless complexion, full mask of makeup, a beaming smile with perfect white teeth, talking to a young student about…can’t even remember what. I hate to break it to you, but as a teacher myself, I can assure you, no teacher looks like this at the end of any day, let alone during the week before Christmas. You’re more likely to see me with paint and glitter all over my outfit, which is designed for comfort rather than for attracting the ridiculously rich and handsome single father who is still nursing a broken heart while simultaneously looking for just the right woman to come and join his picture-perfect family. By the way, if such an affair were to happen, you would pretty much have to leave your job because that kind of gossip would last for so long, you’d be nearing retirement by the time people actually stopped talking about it. I’m also likely to be rocking in a corner, just praying for home time because my class of five-year-olds are so hyped up on Christmas, late nights, and advent calendar chocolate, you’re just one step away from having a mental breath down. And you’ll be lucky if I’m wearing a dab of concealer or pulled a brush through my hair on any given day of the year, let alone at Christmas. I do love them though – mindless crap to make you giggle over how ridiculous it is.
- Food – Here’s the thinking from about October onwards: force yourself into dieting so you can eat like a pig over a two-week period in December. Effectively, you’re deciding to starve yourself with the intention of putting it all back on again for the sake of one day. Of course, my husband doesn’t bother with the first part, just engages with the overeating with gusto. He’ll use the phrase ‘because it’s tradition’ at least a hundred times over the course of December, with at least eighty of them being used in relation to food – Why are you buying that tub of Celebrations? You don’t even like chocolate! Because it’s tradition. Why are you buying all those cheeses and biscuits? It’s only the four of us for Christmas! Because it’s tradition. Why are you making more food? You said you’re full! Because it’s tradition. Why are you buying every meat known to man? Because it’s tradition! And don’t even get me started on the tubs of chocolates that have you eating beyond comfort because they’re just there, calling for you with all their chocolatey goodness.
- Father Christmas – Perhaps the one time when you deem it acceptable to tell your children that it’s perfectly acceptable to let a stranger into your house, feed him, and let him wander about the living room while you all remain sleeping upstairs. You can also ask him for tons of plastic crap you don’t need, even though you literally had your birthday about a month ago.
- Closely linked with the big red stranger in your house, is the newly invented idea, Elf on the shelf! Who in God’s name came up with this idea? Not only have we got to think of a sack full of gifts to get our bundles of joy, but we’ve now got to think of ways to model a creepy-looking doll for virtually the whole of December. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve left this aspect of Christmas to the husband, which is risky, but worth it to not have to do it myself.
- The Nativity…or not. This is perhaps one tradition I really look forward to, and thanks to Covid, the bastard, schools have had to cancel the delights of dancing and singing to a room full of parents who will smile and gush no matter what happens. Little Johnny hollers out he needs a pee during the tear-jerker? Ahh, with some chuckling. Little Angela is flashing her pants during the jive number? Just keep on smiling. Mrs Parker is sweating up a storm while trying to direct three classes full of five-year-olds, half of whom are completely ignoring her and waving at their grown-ups instead? All the more endearing…and an excuse for Mrs Parker to buy an extra tub of Celebrations! Now, I might not be doing a nativity of my own, but my daughter’s school has decided to hold one anyway. My youngest is the donkey, which is both cute and hilarious. When I told her how important her part is, she grinned excitedly, then asked, ‘Who’s Mary?’
- The obligatory argument between the husband and I over what we want for Christmas. Now, having been married for over eleven years, and having known each other for longer than we didn’t know one another, I have learnt that believing him when he says he wants nothing, is an epic mistake to make. When it comes to the day and he has no gift to unwrap because he had said, and I quote, ‘Don’t get me anything, babe, so long as I have you, I have all I need!’, the boy turns into a full-on puppy dog from an animal shelter commercial. The eyes droop, the shoulders slump, and I swear he’s able to make his bottom lip tremble on command. To be fair, I often tell him I don’t want anything because, well, there’s nothing I really need. Perhaps Mary Poppin’s click? Jedi mind manipulation? He’ll think of something, he always does. Surprisingly, the boy always pulls it out of the bag at this time of year.
- The Christmas dinner – When I lived with my parents, we turned the tradition on its head and decided each adult would make a given set course. The idea is that it’s less expensive, less time-consuming, the food is spread out across the day, and it means one person isn’t being left to do all the work. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work with mini people, unless you’d like a bowl full of every ingredient in the kitchen as well as a lump of red Play-Doh served up for dessert. I also live with the aforementioned ‘traditionalist’ who maintains it is positively sacrilegious to serve up anything other than a roast dinner. It’s a strange concept, spending months preparing for a day when you begin cooking from morning till noon, only to then consume a dinner whose weight is comparable to that of an infant. After which, you can pretty much do nothing other than shuffle about in your chair with the occasional groan and promise to never eat again…until the Christmas tea and mince pies. Because, you’ve guessed it, it’s tradition!
- A Christmas Carol – yes, this is a must, even for me. Whether it be muppets, singing from the seventies (Albert Finney, in case you were wondering), or Bill Murry portraying the famous Ebenezer, it is almost law that you watch Dicken’s festive masterpiece. Of course, you could also read the book; it is a classic and one of his more accessible novels.
So, here are a few of my Christmas traditions, and although I sound like I’m poking fun at some of them, I will continue to do all of them. Apart from the elf. When the kids are old enough to know the pain of what we’ve had to do for all these years in the name of make-believe, that creepy little bastard is going to be gifted to whichever one of them wants it.
Don’t forget my new release, ‘My Best Friend’, is available on Amazon KU from December 10th! You can pre-order now: