Christmas is coming. Again. And alerts about office Christmas events have forced me to contemplate preparations. I’ve asked the kids to make lists. Daughter one wants a record player that automatically drops records down. She was describing this the other day like it was some amazing technological thing. I said don’t all record players do that. “They did in the old days, mum, but we are living in more complicated times,” said daughter one.
Only son has written to Santa. He says he wants a plant for Christmas. Daughter three has moved into full-on Christmas mode. She has silver stars which she made and Christmas lights over her bed. She has a gingerbread scented thing next to her bed and is involved in some sort of project which involves her giving a present a day to her dad for the whole of December in a bid to get him to share her enthusiasm for Christmas. Daughter three likes a challenge, but the plan is not working so far. Her decorations have, however, made only son slightly upset. He shares a room with daughter three. “Why is daughter three’s side of the room so much more Christmassy than mine?” he asked, most put out. Plus she keeps nicking the battery on his Christmas lights to power a miniature red Christmas tree thing by her bed, leaving his side of the room slightly bare. We’re planning to make some decorations this weekend.
Daughter two, meanwhile, is in a world of her own. She unfortunately borrowed her dad’s Smiths t-shirt a while back and it has gone missing. This is not good news because if there is one thing my partner values in life it is his clothes. He can spot at 100 yards if I am wearing anything of his. I have made the point on countless occasions that I only wear his stuff because it takes up three quarters of the wardrobe and hence all of my things are in a heap on the floor and need ironing.
My partner has had the Smiths t-shirt for 30 years. It has now taken on heirloom status. Daughter two came to me when she first realised that the shirt had gone missing. It was a complicated tale. “I lent it to my friend and then she rolled around in the mud [why?] when we were at the sleepover with x and so x said she would wash it, but now x doesn’t know where it is and dad is going to kill me,” she said, eyes opening dramatically. “What can I do?” I ebayed Smiths t-shirts and found one that looked similar to the one that was missing. Too late. My partner was on the warpath. When he found out about the ebay t-shirt he was not happy. “A new t-shirt? That t-shirt was 30 years old. Memories have gone into that t-shirt. That t-shirt is my life,” he said or words to that effect. I coached daughter two in how to ask her friend to look again for the t-shirt. Daughter two, like many teenagers, is a bit worried about not being liked. My partner suggested he write a long note explaining the importance of the t-shirt to his very existence.
Meanwhile the cat is still missing. We’ve put up posters, but they won’t stick to the telegraph poles because they are all damp. I have been trying to protect the cat’s territory in his absence, hoping he will be back for Christmas. There’s a big black cat laying claim to our garden so I ran out with my fiercest roar to chase it off the other day. Unfortunately, I slipped and fell flat on my face into a bed of thorns and bruised the whole of my writing arm. The black cat just looked on with a sort of sarcastic look on his face. I then had to limp inside and do three back to back interviews with my bad arm.
Within a week the whole Christmas countdown is going to go into overdrive as Christmas plays, fayres and all sorts take over. It feels rather strange this year, given world events. It’s as if all that Christmas and goodwill to all men stuff happened in a parallel world.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.