Posts Tagged ‘presents’

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.

(W)rapping paper

Eliza and Robin

Walking in the door this evening, Eliza and Robin ran to meet me, squawking at me to listen to them. Each had written a rap, which they read with the exaggerated diction of that idiom. Robin went on to write a second rap, which he rolled and sealed (with sellotape), to make a scroll. It was about how great his Mummy is and is to be give to her tomorrow as a birthday present.

And L’s birthday is the unlikely cause of this outbreak of urban expression. Eliza explained that the raps came from her telling Robin that they needed to wrap L’s presents. And with pleasing closure, one of Robin’s raps has been wrapped as a present for L.


Gabe reads books by the series and then takes long breaks from novel reading denying there can be anything else he would want to read. Since Christmas, he has completed the Michael Hardcastle books about junior football talent Mark Fox. He is now nearly through the Narnia series, held up by his having borrowed the final book from the library but not the penultimate volume. He first tasted CS Lewis’ work five years ago, when a condensed version of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe came with a cereal packet. It made an impression on him and so he was happy to launch into the series, which he has assessed to be good, but uneven, with Voyage of the Dawntreader the least interesting.

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.

Narrator 1


Robin volunteered for and was given the role of narrator for his school nativity play. It weighed heavily on him. He was unhappy and grumpy about it. Why had he volunteered, I asked. Because he thought he would get to use a microphone. He didn’t think he could remember the words, then he was concerned he wouldn’t know when to stand up to make his narration parts. But each rehearsal and then the performances, he conceded, were fine. Except the last one, when he had stood up at the wrong time.


The modern languages department arranged a trip to Europe for year 7, which would involve no language other than English being spoken. I took Gabe to meet the coach at 4.30am on a Sunday and he came back the following Tuesday night. The group visited markets in Lille and Bruges, went bowling and ice-skating. Gabe endured a fear of the Channel Tunnel and terrible food. He loved the experience, the bonding with friends and, I imagine, the step up it represents.


Eliza’s run-up to Christmas was dominated by orchestra and present preparations. With early morning practices and diligent rehearsal at home she took the Christmas concert in her stride. Present buying was equally well coped with. Gifts for family acquired since November and presents for three friends with whom she is forming a group selected confidently.


Faced with Gabe having his ‘worst birthday ever’, L took Baejae to our local vet, a second such visit in three days. Similar outcome, barring some good advice on adminstering medicine and a numerical prognosis – 50:50. The certain uncertainty assuaged Gabe and he returned to birthday mood.

Gabe was very pleased with his camera, European Championships replica football (a ball-a-birthday, but this time he hasn’t asserted that it’s a “real replica”), cricket bag and chocolate cake.

Bank Holiday Monday was spent as Gabe’s day of family celebration. He directed us on a walk to the Mersey where he goes cross-country running with school. We ran along the river and then around the Water Park. Later we went ten-pin bowling. Oddly, the birthday boy was off-form. Eliza’s zig-zagging bowls kept producing spares. Robin was very serious, putting competition ahead of enjoyment . L sprung from the pack to win the tournament.

Gabe’s party awaits at the end of the week, by which time we’ll know whether Baejae is in the surviving or declining cohort of gerbils with infected sebaceous glands.

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.

Unmasked (partially)

At tea-time, Gabe asked L & me: “Is it you? Is Father Christmas real? Be honest. Tell the truth.”

We didn’t tell the truth, not right then. The conversation continued. Eliza wanting to know where he lived, why he wasn’t seen and when Father Christmas had stopped bringing us presents – was it when we stopped putting something out for him and his reindeer. Robin offered the most penetrating insight: “How is he magic, if there’s no other magic in the world?” But the mask didn’t slip as the debate moved to which stocking each of them would have in December.

Later that evening, with Eliza and Robin in bed, I said to Gabe that he had asked to be told the truth and so I would. He wasn’t very surprised and said he had thought we were behind it all. We gave him a stern warning that he must keep this to himself, as he had had nine Christmases of believing – more than the other two. As I put him to bed he asked the question that I suspect had enabled him to suspend his scepticism for so long: “Now I know, does that mean I won’t get presents from him?” I reassured him that the presents would still come.