The Casual Father: Crimes of Christmas past

Michael Steward

Michael Steward

Archant

Having endured a long spell all through my 20s and into my early 30s when Christmases offered limited or no appeal, this year the festive season has finally regained its mojo.

The casual father (left) with brother Paul at Christmas 1984The casual father (left) with brother Paul at Christmas 1984

Obviously my daughter, at just over eight-weeks-old, won’t remember any of it, but for me, Christmas is back, and it’s potentially better than ever.

I realise that in five or six years’ time, I will have to come up with a pretty good excuse as to why Elizabeth can’t have a pony, but in the meantime, I intend to enjoy every minute.

The putting up of decorations, the primary school nativities, the look on her small, excited face when she opens her presents are all things I have to look forward to.

When I discussed this with my own parents recently, I expected to be regaled with stories of all their favourite Christmas memories of me over the years.

But what followed was more like a rap sheet of December 25 misdemeanours.

Like the time I set my own personal best of waking up at 1.30am and broadcasting the fact that Father Christmas had visited by turning my mum and dad’s main bedroom light on and off to create an excitable disco effect.

Or the time when I ate a whole chocolate selection box during the course of the day, despite it being hidden away from me, and spending most of the early evening bent over the bathroom toilet.

And even the time when I came a cropper off my new bike, after being told in no uncertain terms not to take it out for a spin because it was icy outside.

Several other anecdotes followed along the same lines, mostly involving mischievous behaviour, and I begin to wonder if they actually enjoyed any Christmas as a parent at all.

“Do you remember anything from my first Christmas?” I ask my mum, seeking to find something for them to gush over.

“Not a lot,” she replied, “I just remember trying to rock you to sleep with my foot as I was peeling the sprouts.”

Perhaps that is the reality of being a parent at Christmas. Attempting to do 100 things at once, while trying to stop the kids, who have been fed a diet of clever seasonal marketing since November, from burning the house down in excitement.

All of a sudden the Christmas Day of my 20s – being slumped on the couch, fighting a hangover and watching The Great Escape – doesn’t seem like such a bad option.

“It can’t have all been bad,” I offer to mum and dad.

“Bad?” they seem surprised, “We loved every minute.”

Merry Christmas to all readers from the wife, Elizabeth and the casual father.

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