Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Leveson, Lying And A Local Christmas Dinner


“He can’t fit down the chimney! You’ll have to leave the front door unlocked.”

I can tell our Bairn is going to become one of those film-goers who quibbles with impractical events despite them happening during a work of fiction. Superman turns back time by reversing the earth’s rotation? Winged monkeys that fly and obey complex hostage-taking instructions? A Volkswagen Beetle with a mind of its own?

She’s only three and a half and it seems we’ve gone very quickly from realising Santa is a thing that happens to questioning the practicalities of Christmas traditions. I don’t recall her understanding the idea of Santa this time last year and I suspect by this time next year we’ll have been given a Leveson-style four-volume dossier of reasons why he can’t possibly exist in the way we have claimed.
Octonauts. Not real.

She’s already had words with her Octonauts toys in the bath, explaining to them that they’re not real animals living lives of drama under the sea but are in fact playthings. “Look, there’s the plug,” she tutted at them the other night.

So, I intend to enjoy the next couple of weeks of reasonably-wide-eyed festive innocence.

I’m not a great fan of Crimbo kitch and commercialisation, nor am I religious. In short, this for me is the time of year when I struggle to get out of bed in the morning because it’s dark and cold, struggle to stay awake past dinner because it’s dark and cold, and find the process of choosing gifts for people because of some arbitrary albeit well-signposted date a bit stressful.

Blimey what a Grinch I sound like. Twinkly mince pies, warm lights, hand-knitted drams and generous jumpers however I love. More than that I love being with people and having a laugh. My ideal Christmas and New Year break would be at a But n Ben in the wilderness with nothing but a roaring fire, Wallace and Gromit-sized piles of cheese and crackers, and a well stocked drinks cabinet to keep me, Wife-features, the Bairn and our best buddies merry. Yes, connecting with selected people - not the whole world.

The Bairn’s meeting with Santa was very different this year. It took place in the school where she’s been going to nursery since August. She was bold enough to sit next to him and tell him what she really, really wanted. (It’s Octonauts-related. Incidentally, meeting the big man in the red suit cost £1. His margin will be trimmed by the goody bag each kid is given after their visit. Ours contained a packet of Haribo. I mean - Haribo! What‘s that all about?) Last Christmas she was very unsure of him; indeed many other toddlers burst into tears. This is a common reaction I’m told.

The Bairn understands if she’s very good between now and the 25th Santa will probably bring her a fabulous present. We are basically lying to our child for a month solid. And then rewarding her compliance with material possessions. Yeah. You’re right. I’m over-thinking.

This Christmas will be pretty restrained. Bairn’s first was an utter blow-out. We ended up shovelling half of her loot into the shed and bringing it out in instalments over the following twelve months.

Our flit from Nairn to Musselburgh almost a year ago due to yours truly’s so-called career dented our finances a fair bit and since then we’ve been pummelled by rises in grocery bills and energy bills. We get a local, organic veg box once a fortnight and by comparison the contents are cheaper than the big supermarkets. We’ve certainly spent a fair bit dining out when friends and relatives have visited, and it’s been far too easy to pig out on the delicious offerings of a certain Honest Toun ice cream emporium.

Hopefully that’s us settled and next year will be on an even keel.

Meantime, Wife-features is keen to have all local food on Christmas Day so I must remember to “book” the chicken from the poultry place along the coast. We’ll toast the New Year with some Archerfield Ales, Thistly Cross cider or maybe a dram of Glenkinchie (although that would require overlooking the dodgy tax arrangements of owners Diageo).

Perhaps the highlight of the festive marathon so far is the spectacularly inept parenting I displayed at the weekend in a major department store. The Bairn and I ended up in the toy department and I spotted a couple of games that would top off her pressie pile nicely but obviously I didn’t want her to see me buying them. I was holding our coats and began to wrap them around the games when it struck me that at that very moment an eagle-eyed security guard monitoring banks of CCTV images was probably leaping from his chair and calling for back up to deal with a highly suspicious character.
Kris Kringle. Not me.

I opted for a slightly-hidden carrying technique, making for the nearest till in case my motives were doubted. I thought I had got away with it but sadly two hours later when we had arrived home the Bairn took off her coat and shoes and said: “Can I see my games now?”

I’m ashamed to say further lying was required and the poor lassie now believes she was simply mistaken. But just to be sure, the games in question (if they magically appear under the tree on the 25th) will be from me, not Mr Kringle and I will make a full and humble apology for the deceit.

Never mind the media - where’s state-backed regulation of daft Dad behaviour when you need it?

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