Christmas Dad Through the Ages
Right now, most Dads out there will be probably in the thick of it. Be it trying to get through and finish work schedules; getting over the hangover of the annual work’s Christmas party; or trying to work out exactly what presents they should be buying. Like right now. For desperate jigs around the shopping centre on Christmas Eve are never much fun. Nor are the presents bought in ransacked stores, any much good.
As for at home, there will also be lots of preparations to be finished. Such as collecting the turkey and bringing the food and drink shop in – including a bountiful supply of Burt’s Chips. Putting up extra additions to the decorations will have to be done too. Those papier-mâché angels and metres and metres of paperchains, all made at school. They MUST be put on display. And then there will be the general last-minute run around of seeing family and friends, to hand deliver cards, as ‘someone’ will have forgotten to post them.
Hopefully though, come Christmas Day, everything will have neatly slotted neatly into place. And then the real magic can begin. With the children running down the stairs, to see what presents have been delivered by Father Christmas. At 4 o’clock in the morning.
Not every Christmas experience is the same though, for the Christmas Dad. So, we thought it would be fun to compile a run-down of what Dads can expect, as you watch your children grow up through the festive ages. For prospective Dads, we hope that this serves as a good guide. But for the more seasoned fathers out there; well, you might recognise some of these scenarios. You may even have some Christmas stories of your own.
We’d love to hear all about them, so why not get in touch?
The Early Years: 0-2
Let’s face it, to a wee child, Christmas holds little or no significance at all. They are focused on getting fed, keeping warm and filling the contents of their nappies, more than anything else. And yet this by-passes some people. Like Grandparents, who arrive on the big day with sacks and sacks of presents. Baby has more fun with the wrapping paper and by the end of the evening, as a Dad, you will be left wondering what the hell you are going to do with all this ‘stuff’.
You will also rue the decision to dress your baby up in an expensive Christmas Pudding costume. Because they will be sick on it. In fact, by the time you have made the fifth change of the day and put baby to sleep, you will barely have any energy to do anything else. Apart from maybe snaffling a bag of Devon Roast Beef. Before collapsing on the sofa
The Awakening: 3-4
Having gone from sweet and silent ignorance, the penny seems to pleasantly drop once children turn 3 and it really is a joy to watch. The Christmas tree for instance, becomes a source of much wonder and intrigue for a child and they will spend hours cooing over the different trinkets and baubles, dotted upon the branches. You can’t leave them by the tree unguarded mind, without fear of it being pulled to the ground. But you can begin to tell them about all the presents that will soon arrive.
You can even take them to see Father Christmas, at his grotto. But tread wisely. An encounter with a strange man in a white, fluffy beard can be unnerving. So be prepared for a bad reaction and possible dash from the department store. And if the screaming continues in the car, hand over their first Mature Cheddar and Spring Onion chip to try.
The Wide Awakening: 5-6
This is where things start to go slightly crazy. The concept of Christmas has been fully uploaded at this stage. Plans of bringing the decorations down from the loft begin in October and as the 25th approaches, the questions will come at you faster and faster. ‘How fast does Santa fly?’ ‘How many mince pies will he eat?’ ‘We don’t have a chimney, does that mean he comes through the radiator?’ It will be endless, so do some homework and perhaps build in some cod-scientific inspiration to your answers.
Get ready to wake up hourly, if not half-hourly, in the early hours of Christmas morning. To repeatedly answer the biggest question of all – ‘Has he been yet?’ They will not give up until you get up. Although if you really need to pinch some sleep back, put a stocking of goodies at the bottom of their beds. With a packet of quinoa crinkles inside. That’ll buy you some time.
The Expectation: 7-8
Things start to become a bit more nuanced and delicate as children get older and nosier. The juggle of keeping the mystery alive can get caught up with certain practicalities. Take the cupboard under the stairs or the dusty space under the bed. They can no longer become a place to hide things. When the postman arrives, your children will stare at you perplexed as you shout – ‘I’ll get it!’ And then run straight down the bottom of the garden to the shed
A bigger problem comes in the shape of writing letters to the North Pole. A quick scan can induce a nervous gulp from most Dads. ‘But I have been good this year, so why do you think that Father Christmas WON’T be bringing me an Xbox this year?’ your child might say, whinging with despair. ‘Just wait and see’ is the best answer. Swiftly followed by a packet of Fish N Chips, to take their minds off proceedings.
Handing Over the Secret: 9-10
Eventually, all good things must come to an end and most children are savvy enough to work out what is going on by the time they reach 9 or 10. The school playground is a minefield for rumours after all and one day they will come home and ask you the dreaded question – ‘Is Father Christmas real?’ And as a Dad, handling the realisation can be tricky; especially if your child becomes upset in some way.
One nice way to deal with this, is to begin by letting them in on the ‘Secret’. Which is that the whole concept of Father Christmas is not so much a lie that gets discovered; but a rite of passage, where we grow up and learn about the true spirit of giving at Christmas. All those years being good, writing letters and hanging around the Christmas tree, is just practice to become ‘Santa’ for the next generation of children. Then, conspiratorially, you help them to buy a present for younger brother, sister or cousin, which is of their own choice and their induction into the secret.
The basic premise behind this method is to teach the importance of giving and helping. Which as a life skill, is not such a bad thing for a Dad to pass on.
Of course, after getting through this delicate stage, a nice shared packet of Firecracker Lobster chips wouldn’t go amiss either. Then they really will feel all grown up.