Lessons learned over Christmas

Well, I think congratulations are in order. I’ve drunk all the wine, eaten all the chocolates (even the soft centres I don’t like) and shown lashings of goodwill and tolerance towards my relatives. And, as with all good yuletide narratives, I’ve learned a few lessons along the way. Here they are:

  1. You can pay £120 for a bike on eBay, schlep to Brighton to pick it up, and then spend Christmas Eve scrubbing it with WD-40 before wrapping it with a giant red bow. And still your five-year-old will run around telling everyone who’ll listen that his ‘best present ever’ was a baseball cap with reindeer horns attached.IMG_4065
  2. Do you go for a) wooden toys that will look nice in your children’s bedroom, or b) hideous plastic shit they will actually like? You can spend whole afternoons in John Lewis’s toy department struggling with this conundrum. I know – I did. In fact, toyshops could save everybody a lot of time by separating their stock into those two categories. And what I learned – the expensive way – is that I’d have been better off spunking a tenner on each of them in Tiger* (which is where Father Christmas picked up the reindeer-horn cap).
  1. As a grown-up you have the choice: you can host yourself, which means three days poring over Nigella’s Christmas, buying insane amounts of cheese and feeling inadequate because you couldn’t be bothered to glaze a ham. Or you can let someone else take the flak and spend the whole time thinking that they’ve done it all wrong and you’d have done it way better if you’d been in charge. Either way, by the end of it you’ll be pricing up trips to Barbados for next year.
  1. If you give in to your older son’s demands and buy the Christmas tree at the end of November, then put it in a place where your two-year-old can play regular games of Smash the Bauble, your tree will spend the best part of a month looking like this:IMG_4051
  1. If ever you needed proof that that whole 10,000-hours thing was bollocks, I give you the art of gift-wrapping. Despite having had years – no, decades – of practice at it, most of my presents still look like they were wrapped by a seven-year-old in handcuffs.

* If you haven’t come across Tiger, it’s basically Poundland with pretentions. It’s where you can pick up arts-and-craft stuff, kids’ toys and – randomly – that Himalayan pink salt the trendier cookbooks are into. Like Ikea – and, indeed, Poundland – Tiger is one of those places it’s impossible to leave without whole sacksful of landfill bargains you never intended on buying.

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