Groundhog Christmas Day

You awake to Sonny and Cher on the radio, or rather, as it’s Christmas, Slade or Band Aid. You have all manner of things set up for your small child to have a magical Christmas, but it all goes wrong. The child is horrible for whatever reason and you fear that the holiday is ruined forever. Fear not, though, as next year you just do it all over again. Welcome to Groundhog Christmas Day.

Christmas 2015 was for us a pretty torrid time. For reasons we’ve never quite fathomed, our then nearly 3-year-old daughter Tilly was having an off-month. Days were full of tantrums, grumpiness and dreadful behaviour. Christmas, alas, was no exception. She was entirely unappreciative of her presents on Christmas morning and was rude and shouty for each set of family we took her to.

Our worst fears had, it seemed, been realised. Christmas was a car crash and it felt that our efforts to get our daughter to buy into the magic of Christmas had failed, leaving us feeling down and guilty. Fortunately for us and parents of all small children, a year is a long time in their small lives.

Fast forward twelve months and things have changed a good deal. While moodiness remained, as Tilly approaches four years old her appreciation of Christmas was transformed compared to the year before. Preschool had done loads about it, including writing a letter and meeting Father Christmas. Anticipation was fuelled for the big day. Best of all, she has no recollection of anything about Christmas from the previous year – not the tree, presents, anything, as far as we could gather. Although this was our fourth Christmas with her, from her point of view it was her very first.

In contrast to the terrible previous year, this Christmas has proven to be a resounding hit. We’ve done all the traditions – advent calendar, leaving out a mince pie, drink and reindeer food plus there was even sooty footprints by the fireplace on Christmas morning. Tilly loved the process and did a lot better with visiting family, even if we did have to switch to standby food, as Christmas lunch isn’t her thing.

It nevertheless felt that we’d had a proper Christmas this year. Being a bit older, I’m expecting that she probably will have some memory of this Christmas next year. I’m pretty glad though that the short term nature of infant’s memories have given us a few years of practice and when it counted, it felt like we pretty much aced it. Phew. Just as well we’ve a year to recover for the next one! Happy new year.


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