It’s easy for Christmas BC (Before Children) to feel more about our hangovers and expanding waistlines (not to mention our overdrafts) than any real festive spirit. Then you have a child and all that changes. Not since you were a nipper, anxiously listening out for Father Christmas in your PJs, have you felt so infused with joy and enchantment.
Here are 20 ways that Christmas becomes magical when you’re a parent …
1. It used to drive you bonkers that Christmas started pretty much in October (oh, yes it did…) but now you can’t wait for the shops to bust out the Christmas lights and to hear Noddy Holder’s dulcet tones. Ooh, and the advent calendars, and the ads and the Christmas lists… How many times have you rewritten yours?
2. Nothing can prepare you for the heart-melting sweetness of watching your little one in their very first Christmas nativity or school play, whether they have a starring role or not (it’s Gning’s first Nativity on 7 December). Don’t forget your tissues!
3. Kids make it OK to sport clashing decorations and an OTT Christmas tree. In fact, the more of mash-up of colours and styles of baubles, the better.
4. It’s FINALLY acceptable to buy chocolate decorations again. Just remember to leave a few for the kids, eh?
5. Their Christmas list to Santa reads like a stock-taking sheet of ToysRUs and Smyths combined. But it’s the ‘and I’ve been soooo good’ line that really makes you smile.
6. Thank goodness this year you’ve got a good excuse for the misshapen mince pies. All your toddler’s own work, yes?
7. You love channelling your inner-storyteller with stories of Father Christmas and seeing your children’s eyes widen with delight.
8. Creating your very own traditions is something you’ll share for a lifetime. Maybe you write a Christmas poem together, or put on a little festive play for the grandparents? Or leave one more present in the garden to be discovered – “Oh look! Santa must have dropped it!”
9. Leaving a glass or milk (or something stronger) for Father Christmas, and a carrot for Rudolph, never loses it’s charm. And neither does…
10. …drinking that something stronger on Christmas Eve, when the wee ones are safely asleep.
11. Nothing beats that amazing feeling of satisfaction on Christmas Eve when everything is wrapped and ready for the next day. Savour the scene – because the next day it’s carnage! Hope your recycling bins are empty…
12. Not to encourage your inner bah, humbug, but it’s a great time of year to dodge any tedious social engagements: honestly, babysitters are so unreliable…
13. Family films are no longer an indulgence, they’re mandatory. From the Muppet’s Christmas Carol to Home Alone, it’s the perfect season to snuggle up on the sofa.
14. Talking of which, make your brood hot chocolate with marshmallows. And have one yourself.
15. Place your bets on what time Christmas Day officially starts. And yes, it feels magical even though it’s 5am.
16. As you watch them open their pressies, you remember the fizzy feeling of thrill and excitement you had as a child. And seeing the joy your children bring to their grandparents is priceless.
17. Eating together as a family is something to take time over and savour. Who cares if the potatoes are a tiny bit burnt, or the sprouts a bit hard? It doesn’t have to be perfect to be appreciated.
18. Snow is what dreams are made of when you’re five. And snow at Christmas… Cue delirious children and giggling parents!
19. The pleasure of tumbling back into a warm and cosy house after a good old stomp outside brings the colour to everyone’s cheeks.
20. Knowing at the close of Christmas day that the hard work is over for another year – and despite the odd flurry of tears and tantrums – they’ve had a pretty wonderful day. Well done, you. Only 365 days to go…