With a heartfelt sigh I mark yet another event on the December page of my calendar. Christmas Discos, Christmas craft mornings, Christmas light switch ons, Nativity performances, Christmas Carol service, Santa’s Grotto, Village Christmas Fayres, School Christmas Fayres… to name but a few. Not forgetting trying to juggle those events with Louie’s appointments, visits from family and Christmas shopping! I am far from the Bah Humbug type, I love Christmas and even more so now that I am a parent. However with an increasing pressure piled onto parents each year I’m beginning to feel anxious about how on earth you keep up with the never ending social demands.
Today I sat and thought about my own childhood Christmases full of happiness and laughter, I never felt I went without. I asked my mum what pressures there were back in the 90s when my brother and I were similar ages to our own children. We always had our yearly visit to the department store at Ilford to meet Santa and a chocolate advent calender but apart from that there were no other additional “essentials” for Christmas. So why is there this mounting pressure on parents to provide all these new traditions. Underneath are some of the examples I am referring to:
Elf on the Shelf:
This looks a lot of fun for many families and I enjoy looking through instagram posts of what the Elf has been up to (especially the naughtier elves) Each morning parents are encouraged to position the Elf somewhere different for their children to find. I have purposely avoided this little tradition due to my complete incompetence at being able to remember to reposition the Elf each evening. Undoubtedly my dog, Bert, would eventually get his teeth into him and the children would come down to find the Elf massacred. Tears and hysterics all round!
When I was a child we had a simple chocolate advent calendar and so far my children have had one similar. However it is hard to avoid the allure of some of the calendars on the shelves presently. Multitudes of themed advent calendars await our children on the shelves, although not containing the simple chocolate, instead behind each door lays a small toy depending on the theme. Main examples are Lego, Play Mobile, Barbie, LOL dolls, once again the list is endless. Prices start from around £10 up to £100. Already my children’s eyes have been drawn to the Lego themed ones, but with 3 children and an average price of £20 each can I really warrant spending £60 on advent calendars?
Christmas jumpers originally were seen as a bit geeky back in the 90s. However, now with the retro craze still going strong, Christmas jumpers are one of the staple items of the Christmas wardrobe. In addition to the jumpers, we now have idyllic images across our social media feeds of families wearing matching Christmas pyjamas and children wearing specially selected Christmas Eve pyjamas. I feel for parents our age, it has now become a necessity to have to purchase Christmas jumpers and PJs each year.
Christmas Eve Boxes
Personalised wooden boxes containing all of the essentials a child will need for Christmas Eve. Ideas for the box include Christmas stories, Christmas cups with hot chocolate and marshmallows and other indulgent treats and of course the obligatory Christmas pyjamas. But is this all really needed? Christmas Eve as a child I was more than happy to sit cuddled up with my parents watching Home Alone, with a sneaky sip of my mum’s snowball.
Visits to Santa
Visiting Santa is something I couldn’t wait to do when I first become a parent. Picture the idyllic scene, my children sitting with excited faces after telling Father Christmas all their hopes and dreams. However in reality they screamed when they met him and the photo was one of two red faced, bawling toddlers completely terrified of this plump, bearded man I had positioned them with. Nonetheless I have persevered with this Christmas tradition. Unlike the simple department store grottos we had in the 90s, there’s a whole host of different experiences to go meet the legend that is Saint Nick. This year I have sold a kidney, for my children to ride a steam train and meet Santa at the end. They will receive, what will likely be a present from poundland, and lose it by the time we get back to the car. In spite of the extortionate rates, I know my children will love this day as they are huge Polar Express fans! However there are some more random places Santa seems to be appearing these days. For example:
Christmas is a wonderful time of year especially for those with children around them. I try my best to have a careful balance between not spoiling my children and yet not letting them miss out at the same time. Although I do feel that much of today’s necessities, such as the Christmas Pyjamas, are just becoming another box to tick and photo to post up onto Instagram. I can’t remember what pyjamas I was wearing when I was 7 on Christmas Eve, likewise my outfit on Christmas Day. What I do remember is my mum and dad’s little details, floury “snow” footsteps from Santa up the stairs, the smell of bacon sandwiches as my dad cooked us breakfast after our presents were opened, the chaos and laughter of my nan’s house with over 30 people crammed into her small front room. Those images were never captured on Instagram or Facebook, neither did they cost the earth but those memories and many more will stay with me forever.