I would like to say that we all recovered in time for Christmas, but by Christmas Eve the cold virus thing we had contracted courtesy of daughter two had taken a firm grip and I still had all the presents to wrap up. It is one thing looking after a sick child. It is another looking after a sick child when you are unable to open your eyes more than a couple of millimetres. It is yet another thing to be sick, looking after an ill child and having to gear up to an evening as one of the world’s happiest bearded people. Of course, I should have delegated, but my partner was on cooking and entertainment duty all day and in our house that is like being in charge of a small B & B plus only I knew where all the treasure was buried.
I was slightly delirious too, which made remembering what I’d got for who and where on Earth I’d put it rather challenging. Plus teenagers don’t ever want to go to bed, even when they can see Santa is lying there groaning right in front of their eyes. “I’ll just watch the end of Mind the Buzzcocks and go to bed,” I think I heard her say as I dragged myself towards the stockings. Only son had taken an age to go to bed earlier because he was worried Santa would be cross that he had no pj bottoms on due to his fear of wetting the bed. Eventually everyone went to bed and Santa could work her magic. During the night I think daughter three came in around four times as well as only son, but I may have hallucinated that.
Morning came all too quickly and everyone was fairly excited. “Santa knows I needed some pants,” said only son joyously, “and he got me some candy cane which was on my list!” Oh yes, that Santa is very on the ball, usually. Daughter three had perked up momentarily. She had got three presents for every member of her family and put them in a Santa sack. Daughter three is one of life’s givers. She had bought two presents for each person out of her pocket money and made the third one. Daughter two had made quite a few of her presents too, including a book of treats she gave to daughter three. This consisted of her hollowing out a book, painting it, putting ribbons on it to close it, writing daughter three’s name in feathers on the front and filling it with sweets. Daughter three loved it. Within half an hour of opening their stockings everyone under 12 wanted to go downstairs and open more presents.
The teenager in the family was, of course, fast asleep and way too cool to be excited about stockings. She was, however, quietly thrilled by her own present – a record player like we oldies used to have back in the black and white days. We had got her a couple of records from the charity shop, but she decided to dig out our old LPs which are in a box under the stairs. My partner got very nostalgic as she brought out all his Paul Weller and Morrissey stuff. Daughter one said some complimentary things about the old days and how LPs were much more artistic than CDs. I showed her my somewhat spartan collection. It is what I like to call eclectic, given that it spans ELO, the Osmonds, Police, Japan, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Grease, Hazel O’Connor and Wham. Daughter one was not too impressed, especially when informed my favourite Osmond was Merrill. In mitigation, I was around six at the time.
We played a bit of charades and a music quiz then the paracetamol wore off and daughter three and I collapsed and bravely managed to rouse ourselves for Eastenders in the evening. Only son was a paragon of nursing prowess. He snuggled down next to me. “You are my favourite princess, mummy,” he whispered then paused. “No, mummy, you are my queen.” I had been promoted within seconds. If only things worked quite this fast in the world of work.