Thursday, 1 December 2011

count up to Christmas

Snooks started the day with this inevitable question.

“Is it Christmas yet?” he whispered as he clambered into the Engineer’s vacated spot in our bed. It was 7am (a lie in!). I congratulate myself on having dragged together sufficient brain cells to come up with a satisfactory reply, allowing me another 10 seconds sleep, without giving him false hope.

“It is the first day of the countdown to Christmas,” I answered, cunningly employing his current numerophilia to make the long unbearable wait – what we used to call Advent – sound like fun.

Snooks’ yuletide excitement (which, after all, is the real reason we all bother to have children) started with our weekly trip yesterday to the supermarket where the giant foil snowflakes and bells dangling from the ceiling filled him with such glee it almost broke my heart.

In fact such was his desperation to get started on the whole downhill sleigh ride to the 25th that by the time we got home I had not only promised to come up with a Christmas tree, decorations, a party, a snowy train ride in the dark with stars and an ice rink by next Monday but we had also purchased two of largest baubles I have ever seen in my life.

To his great credit, Snooks has said very little about toys, presents or Father Christmas. His fascination so far seems to be with the glitteriness of it all – something I too love about the season.

So as he was tucked into bed last night, clutching the larger of the giant baubles to his chest, I promised him that in the morning he could open the first window of the Advent Calendar to mark that Christmas in our house had officially begun.

I realise it is a little early for some tastes and as I snuggled next to him wondering how the Engineer and I were going to manage to fit the train ride/ice rink/tree buying bonanza into one weekend, I thought back to the Christmases of my childhood where the tree only turned up on Christmas Eve, no letters were written to Santa and woolly stockings were something you wore under your jeans for the freezing walk up the hill on Christmas Day.

Our mother had always explained the late start was so that my brother’s birthday on the 18th would not be lost in the pre-Christmas frenzy but I now wonder if perhaps, as two teachers, my parents just had about as much Christmas cheer as they could take during the day at school and wanted to come home to a tinsel-free zone.

As the Engineer returned from the shower to be informed that he was required to go out the shed and find the advent calendar before breakfast, I explained to Snooks what it meant.

“So each day you get to open a window with a number on it which marks the days leading up to Christmas Day which is the 25th. So today is the 1st – which is number one – which means there are 24 days left ….”

This may sound like an intensely dull way to discuss Christmas with an excited three year old but trust me, this was rocking his world. After weeks and weeks of searching for a carrot/stick system to help Snooks grasp the nettle of socialisation, a list of numbers stuck to the fridge specifying what is and is not allowed seemed to do the trick. So long as he gets to put the colourful magnets on the numbers he’ll do all kinds of sharing stuff.

“So,” he interjected, “it’s not a countdown. It’s a count up to Christmas.”

This is the kid who last week insisted on singing “Happy Birth Night to You” to the Engineer as he correctly observed, it was dark by the time the cake and candles were lit for the big occasion.

Stay with us. We’ve got three weeks of this to go yet.

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