The answer to the question everyone keeps asking me is that, yes, I am ready for Christmas. “Somebody’s organised, then,” the receptionist commented when I gave her this answer on Thursday. “Yes,” I agreed, “my husband.” The dear man has done half my ordering/picking up of presents and nearly all of my wrapping, as well as the cleaning. I knew there was some reason I married him apart from his good looks, dazzling intelligence, sense of humour, warm-hearted compassion, sexual prowess and gorgeous arse.
The other question people keep asking me is whether this is my son’s first Christmas. It isn’t, of course, but it feels as if it is. Last Christmas he was just five weeks old – more of a permanently feeding little blob than a person. Even though everyone talked beforehand about how much he would enjoy Christmas, with all those amazing lights to look at, he really didn’t give any sign of noticing that it was any different from any other day. There weren’t many presents that he could enjoy, either – he was too young even for rattles. (Not that such considerations stopped my mother from buying him a train set and a set of alphabet blocks.) I fixed my eyes on the far-off Next Christmas when he would be a proper little person, a toddler running around the house and into everything, driving us crazy by trying to grab ornaments off the tree, but it all seemed so far-off and unreal.
And now, of course, it’s real. Well, not the running round the house, not quite – for about six weeks now he’s been able to wobble a few steps at a time, but it’s still quite an endeavour for him and, although his standing is improving noticeably, he still prefers crawling when he wants to get anywhere. But the active-exploring-into-everything-driving-Mummy-and-Daddy-nuts bit – yup, that’s happening, all right. He’s been far better than we expected about not attacking the tree (Daddy’s laptop and the television amplifier are much more interesting) but he is interested in the lights, and on one occasion tried banging two of the red ones together to see what would happen. It was quite a disappointment – really didn’t prove to make the kind of satisfying noises that other things make when they’re banged together.
He’s also developed a liking for an ornament I bought last week on a whim when I saw it on a day out – a wooden mitten shape with a Santa Claus picture on it. He keeps crawling over and taking this one off the tree to look at, then trying to put it back (and getting rather bewildered and frustrated by its infuriating refusal to go back onto the branch and stay there). My advent calendar this year has tiny board books for each day which each tell a fragment of Dickens’ “Christmas Carol” and which are designed to be hung on the tree, and he loves those as well. (They’re books. Books are good. Board books aren’t as good as books with proper pages, which he loves riffling, but board book pages are still good fun to turn.)
He had his first present this afternoon. (We’re going to try the same plan that we did for his birthday, giving him his presents at intervals throughout the day rather than all in one overwhelming go.) I’d got him a ride-on, since Libby Purves says they’re indispensable for the toddler period. He was quite interested in it, but since it wasn’t dangerous or fragile the interest value was somewhat limited. However, he did like the squeaky thing in the steering wheel, and the plastic phone that came with it (though it was a disappointment that none of the buttons on the phone did anything. Not nearly as good as Mummy’s radio alarm clock.) I’ve also got him a stacking toy and a hammer-and-peg toy, which were recommended in Nanny Knows Best as being very popular with this age group (yes, I am a complete sheep who cannot buy a present for her own child unless it’s recommended in a book. Sue me.) I think he may well be bemused by the stacker, but he’s really going to like the hammer-and-peg toy. I may live to regret that one. However, it turned out MIL had bought him the same toy, so one of them is going to live at Granny’s house and one of them at home.
So what will he be like next Christmas? How much more will he have changed and grown? He’ll be two years old then. He’ll be walking properly, talking more, maybe even helping put the ornaments on the tree. We may well be struggling with potty training. Hell, he might even be sleeping at night. (I can hope….)
Talking of sleep, I’m in dire need of some, and will head off to bed before this degenerates into even more drivel. Merry Christmas, and may you all get what you wish for this Christmas. And for people like Magpie and Karen, who won’t be getting what they most want this year – what I wish for you is that this will be the last year when that’s so. I’m so looking forward to the things your blogs will say this time next year, the rushed postings you’ll make when you can spare a few minutes from running after Evie and Maya, the postings about what motherhood is like and how amazing it is to have that first Christmas with your respective daughters. Just think – this time next year, you’re going to be just as incoherent with exhaustion as I am right now. Happy Christmas to you all, and the very, very best of years to come.