Janet Christie's Mum's the Word: Brief encounter with Christmas underwear

At what age do men start to buy their own underwear?

Janet Christie. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Janet Christie. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Despite being well into, in one case, and on the cusp of in the other, their third decades on the planet, Eldest and Middle still expect me to buy them Christmas boxers. It seems the only Christmas tradition I manage to honour is the one where they get a fresh set of undercrackers in their stockings. Turkeys may be replaced by curries, presents opened continental style on Christmas Eve some years to facilitate the need to celebrate in two homes (mine and Other Parent’s), and finally last year the real tree was replaced by an artificial one (woohoo!). We’ve still a way to go before I can ban it all together, Oliver Cromwell style, but in the meantime the tradition of Christmas pants lives on. Or does it?

“This year I think we should do a Secret Santa where we pull a name out of a hat and buy something for £10 for that person. Stop all this presents thing,” says Youngest Child.

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What a great suggestion. I’m starting to like her.

“Well, the boys always like new pants, so…” I begin, but the suggestion dies on my lips.

“No. Just no,” she says. “And remember I buy my own.”

Well it was worth a try. I wouldn’t mind but the boys are so picky and there are so many permutations it’s easy to get it wrong – a faux button fly here, a too short leg there – and I’ll be back at the shop to swap them come Boxing, or should that be Boxer Day.

“Well no-one asks you to buy them,” they chorus when I moan. Right, leave it to them and they’d be sporting boxers that look like they’ve spent a day grouse beating for inbred aristos and been peppered with grapeshot. Or been run out of town by the Ned Kelly gang.

So today is pants shopping day, and I’ll be remembering the golden rule. Never, ever, go for a novelty Christmas theme – Rudolphs, Santas, bells, whistles, anything that flashes and absolutely no fur trim. Nothing that will look out of place in A&E.

Because pants are not just for Christmas... n