Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

Christmas presents

The focus was stronger than ever on the presents the kids were getting each other, and L and me. They exchanged chocolate, and delegated some decisions to L. But there was also more adventure. Robin and Gabe both bought clothes (tops) for Eliza. Gabe rushed into a shop and grabbed the top he understood Eliza to have wanted, selecting the size based on the sticker on the hanger. Presumably he nodded when the assistant confirmed he wanted age 14-15. He is now challenged with finding the receipt so an exchange for a smaller size can be effected.

We were at Grandpa’s in Scotland and did our present-opening there mid-morning. Notable, amongst the wrapping paper, by its absence was football. For the first time in many years, there were no boots, shirts or even footballs given or received. After a meal for 11, we played Bird Bingo and Headbands (iphone version)

Football did come to the fore on Boxing Day when Uncle S/R took the boys and me to see the only Scottish League match being played that day: Dunfirmline v Falkirk. There was some discussion over which was worse – the quality of football or the hot chocolate. We all wondered how the man of the match adjudicator could have come to any decision.

The following day, we had a kickabout on a basketball court with Cousin F, before walking from South Queensferry to the middle of the Forth Road Bridge and back.


Six pack

Two wet weeks of the Christmas school holiday are nearly over. We’ve been at home, had a few visitors, but mostly just the five of us.


Robin noticed on Boxing Day that all his presents were for outdoor activities. He found an indoor pursuit to specialise in during the wet days. L has a large, weighted hula-hoop as an exercise aide. The kids have played with it occasionally, but Robin has mastered it. First he managed one minute; then five minutes. He announced he would do ten minutes, which he did and kept going and going for 25 minutes. Everyone else who tries winces at the discomfort, but he’s building an abdomen of rock.


Eliza is the most comfortable of the three with indoor activities. She received Cluedo for Christmas and won her second game, taking out her closest challenger with an assassination move before coasting to victory. Eliza has also been learning card tricks. She takes equal delight in developing a patter as she does with the illusion.

Eliza’s other enthusiasm has been Tutpup, an on-line maths and spelling competition. She has worked her way up the levels, racing competitors from across the world and reached 10th place on the global leader board this afternoon.


For Gabe, the holiday means time to play FIFA. With a new TV he can do this in his bedroom. Most efforts to get the kids out of the house are met with his ill-humour as they frustrate his efforts to dedicate the holiday to PS3.

But there is another side: when we have visitors, Gabe shows charm and sociability on a level I can only aspire to. Whether children his age or younger, or adults, he talks, engages in games and continues to project to the world his mature, positive self.

Sleepless in Sale

A strict 7am curfew was in place for Christmas morning. That interdiction applied only to waking L and me, and to opening their stockings. The kids had their own plans.

Eliza says she woke at 1am, shortly after Santa’s visit, and barring a 3o minute doze, didn’t sleep again until morning. Robin woke just after 3am and went into Gabe’s room to wake him up. Gabe shooed him away. I was awake around 5am and heard voices in Eliza’s room. But despite their wakefulness, they kept to the terms of the curfew.

Eliza had floated the idea that presents shouldn’t be opened in a rush on Christmas morning, but gradually during the day. Gabe was non-committal; Robin speechless. Eliza had dropped the notion by the time Christmas Day came.

Favoured presents for the boys included football boots, tickets for a City match and a new, bigger goal for the garden. Eliza had a hair-styling device, winter boots and Cluedo.

This year, more than in the past, the kids were intent on giving presents to L & I – and our reactions. With their time and money, I received a calendar and model for my office as well as snacks I’ll treat myself with this holiday.

Rampant materialism, happy kids

This Christmas, L and I have shocked ourselves at our consumption on our kids’ behalf. To Eliza, a Kindle Fire. To Gabe, after much agonising, a PS3 and a 2nd hand portable TV, so it doesn’t dominate the living room set. To Robin, new football boots, ball and goal. It was like a mini, intra-familial arms race, where we were providing the combatants with weapons of mass-distraction.

Each of them has said that it was the best Christmas ever. Two days later and they are experiencing the rest of the month as an anti-climax, but they don’t take much persuading to return to the loot that provided the high on the 25th.

The night of Christmas Eve and Christmas morning was tense and expectant. Robin woke as Santa was about to deliver, but was guided back to bed, via loo. Eliza was awake at 2.30am, sitting up in bed with light on and laden stocking lying beside her, squeezed and sized up but not violated. She thinks she stayed awake until 4am. There were general stirrings at 6am and by half-past all three were up and waiting for the magical hour of seven.

We will introduce the word ‘austerity’ in 2013.

The Great Unwrapping

The family, including aunt, uncle and little cousin F, assembled in the living room on Christmas morning, considered the pile of presents spreading out from under the tree and went to work.


Robin put on his roller-blades straightaway and cruised along the hall and around the kitchen for much of the morning. After a trip to the park on the blades, the Nerf gun took over. He spent the afternoon in combat shooting the grown-ups at point-blank range and then from sniper positions. Cousin F assisted, retrieving the foam bullets.


Eliza also got new wheels, a scooter, that she rode to the park alongside Robin and ahead of Cousin F whose bike had been painstakingly assembled by the men. A watch and stripy, romper suit pyjamas were other early favourites.


Christmas was an opportunity to equip Gabe for his return to cricket. Gloves, pads, box and helmet – the last, unfathomably, too small and requiring replacement. He tried them all on eagerly but I wasn’t able to arrange for him to use them in action, which disappointed him.

He also took charge of the family DVD present: the last Harry Potter film and the early series of Outnumbered, which he has alighted on as his favourite programme. The appeal perhaps the sight of children besting their parents and some gentle swearing.

Christmas countdown

School breaking up on 15 December has given plenty of time for anticipating Christmas. Useful distractions have come with play dates, games and the gerbils but wet weather through the long week has also strained fraternal and sisterly relations.


Robin has been overcome by the pending excitement more than once. Australia having Christmas a day early, he believed, was one cause of a strop and sobs.


Eliza lay on the kitchen floor wailing while L and Robin made egg-free pancakes – a special treat for him. He defended this treat by forbidding her to help out.


Gabe’s meltdown had nothing to do with Christmas. L got an electric shock from the sandwich toaster that left her on her backside and shaken. Gabe’s terror took over, imploring her not to turn the switch at the socket off, refusing to touch her or to eat anything at all for fear of getting a shock himself.

Good elf

Gabe and Eliza

It’s a school tradition for year three pupils to write letters to Santa, which get intercepted on their route to Lapland, and are read and responded to by year six. Eliza’s letter was passed to Gabe. He told me he had it and that she hadn’t been honest, claiming as evidence that she had been good that she made a cup of tea for Mummy every morning, always helped Daddy in the garden, etc.

Gabe drafted a response in the guise of one of Santa’s elves. He swallowed his indignation at Eliza’s exaggerated claims of virtue, limiting himself to replying that Santa found it hard to believe everything she wrote. To further the deception he had a girl in his class handwrite the letter that was returned to Eliza.


Nan and Grandad spent a weekend of Christmas preparations with us: buying and decorating a fir tree, Halle carol concert and a day of child-minding involving wii games and chip shop lunch. When they left, Robin fought back tears. He had been anticipating their stay – perhaps as a sign of Christmas approaching – and was so sad when it was time for them to go.