Nothing stops Christmas: not Covid, climate change or my decades long campaign to keep it simple, which this year meant hiding the tree at the back of the shed behind the contents of Middle’s former flat including a dismantled double bed and multiple skateboards, as well as assorted heavy oak shelving, several suitcases, my new powersaw and a lawnmower.
“Yes, I know what you did. It’ll all have to be moved. I LOVE the Christmas tree. And,” says Youngest, “about presents, The Boys have decided...”
“You’ve not to do that… I was reading a parenting guru…”
“Yeah right, reading parenting stuff…”
I continue...“who said you’ve not to lump children together, they’re all individuals and need to be treasured separately and…”
“So,” she cuts in, “The Boys have decided we’re just doing tenner gifts, well Eldest said twenty, but me and Middle got him down to a tenner, or just what we want to spend in SOME cases,” and she nods down at the big box she’s placing in my eyeline on the window ledge next to my workstation/table where I’m tapping away, bearing the legend “To Mummy From Your Fav Daughter (Heart)” in marker pen.
“Wow! No pressure. But thank you.”
“It’s OK. Don’t worry about it. So I would like an incense holder from The Boys.”
“Bleugh. I hate that stuff. Well I don’t hate it, haven’t got the strength, but it reminds me of my youth and hippie parties and Afghan coats and… shenanigans. Did I tell you about the artist friends of my mum and dad who lived in two railway carriages and...”
“I’ll have it at Other Parent’s. He’ll let me.”
Me: (Silent hmph). “Yes, and he’ll let you have a puppy too, he said he was wanting one for Christmas.”
“Pathetic,” she says.
“Ok,” I say, remembering something important. “Other Parent did say about presents, we don’t need anything, we all have too much, so this year’s about doing things for each other. So I’m going to ask The Boys to paint the shed, save me doing it.”
“Perfect. While you’re out there explaining, you can all clear the shed and get the tree.”
“Why don’t YOU help get the tree? That could be your gift to me.”
“I would, but…” she says, and taps the big box on the window ledge.”