Three kids and a single mum
My children still believe in Father Christmas - even the eldest one, aged 12. It amazes me that I have managed to hoodwink them this long, without inadvertently spilling the beans. To be honest, it's killing me. I just want to shout: "HE DOESN'T EXIST!" It's me - my darlings - your dear, old mama, who excels in wish-fulfilment.
|When to put up the tree?|
Instead, I adopt the psychology of a serial adulterer, secretly hoping to be found out one day. I use the same wrapping paper for the stockings fillers as I do for the 'main' presents around the tree, in the hope that they will rumble me. I even leave price labels on sometimes. Last year, Middle Child idly remarked, "Oh look, Father Christmas shops at John Lewis. Isn't that funny?"
I have promised myself that I will take each of them aside the night before they go to university and reveal the awful, mundane truth of the matter.
The family tree
From the start of December there is a constant refrain in my household: "When are we putting up the Christmas tree, Mummy?" The timing of such an event is crucial - too early and, by Christmas Eve, the tree has become a prop from the Night of the Living Dead; too late and it hardly feels worth the bother.
"I know!" declares Quiet One. "Why don't we get one of those artificial trees and then we can just keep it in the attic and get it out when we like?"
Instinctively, I fight against this idea, but just can't put my unease into words. "But... then there wouldn't be any pine needles to hoover up and there'd be nothing to water," is my pathetic attempt.
"What about the cat?" argues Middle Child with a bit more brio. "If we got a fake tree, then she would have to go back to drinking out of the toilet. And that just wouldn't be right, not at Christmas time."
Exactly! I clasp my hands together in delight. How could we deny our feline friend a draught of the finest eau de arbre de Noël?
A post-truth era
I am actually feeling quite zen-like as Christmas approaches. For once, I am ahead on the Christmas shopping, the turkey has been pre-booked and most of the cards are written. Over the years, I have streamlined my processes and introduced little efficiencies. There has also been some cost-cutting this time around as I have purged half the people on my Christmas-card list. Old acquaintance be forgot... Adieu, friends of ex-husband! (And, I don't expect you'll hear from him either.)
The only fly-in-the-frankincence is the teenagers... What on earth does one buy for hormonally-challenged nieces and nephews? I am fine with kids the same age as mine, but completely out of my depth with 12+. I have scoured the John Lewis 'Gifts for Teenagers' section online, but am I really qualified to buy 'Hipster Boyleg Print Briefs' for my sister's eldest?
She's off to university next year. Maybe I should buy her a book on the harsh realities of life in a post-truth era. I am afraid, dear niece, that the red-suited and booted man is really just a figment of your parents' imagination. Pardon? Donald Trump? No, sorry, he's for real. I know! Crazy, isn't it?
Hermaphrodite Mum is a fictional creation of Emma Clark Lam