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  • Guest Columnist Life & Style Opinion

    The joys of Christmas

    By Alexia Saleem

    Today is Christmas. I love Christmas. I always have. Even before I had children. People say it becomes more magical when you have little people in your life. I’m not so sure. I’ve always been a child at heart and seen the magic in everything.

    This year I’m sure it is going to be a really Christmas. My son and daughter are 4½ and so this year are really able to grasp what’s going on. They’ve actually been talking about Christmas since July and made sure we had a chimney Santa could come down.

    Their eyes were the size of saucers when they saw the trees on sale at Alphamega in early November, and they made a point of touching all the trees and baubles in wonder.

    Leonidas proceeded to tell me he wanted lots of trees in our house too. “Just like Alphamega has!”

    He was rather disappointed when I told him we’d have a tree, but only one.

    I also didn’t put our tree up until last week, much to their disgust. I’ve never been a fan of decorating a Christmas tree in early December. These days some people start as early as November. My children would probably have loved it, but to me Christmas only really starts to feel like Christmas during Christmas week.

    I’m also a believer in celebrating the birth of Jesus. Not everyone shares my views, but I love who Jesus was and what he stood for, and our children do too.

    I also tend to go all out on presents at Christmas. I always have. It was the way I was brought up and I remember my delight at discovering Santa knew exactly what to get me. The joke is, I found out the truth about Santa when I was about six. A teacher at school told me. But that didn’t stop me feeling the Christmas magic. And I never told my younger siblings.

    There’s something so indescribably exciting about going to bed on Christmas Eve after leaving out a glass of red wine for Santa, a couple of mince pies and a bowl of milk for the reindeers. It is even more exciting to wake up at the crack of dawn and to race through the house to the tree, first stopping by the kitchen to check that yes, Santa has indeed been, for the wine glass is empty, the mince pies are gone and the milk has been drunk.

    When I was a child, all the presents were from Santa, not family members. Some families like to mix it up. Others don’t like to give big presents. Each to their own. But it’s not how Team Saleem do things.

    My kids don’t really get toys during the year. If they do, they don’t come from us. On their birthdays they do get a gift, but I think it was a few books last year. They love books. But Christmas means toys. Things like Lego or Playmobil which they spend the next 12 months playing with. This year they’re into dinosaurs. Katerina wants a T-Rex and Leonidas wants a Gigantosaurus. They also want a pirate ship. And Leonidas wants a digger and a fire engine. Oh, and they want chocolates and shortbread biscuits because they know at Christmas time they’re allowed sugar galore.

    Christmas Day is also a time where screen time comes in handy. It means the adults can eat and drink to excess while the kids are kept busy. Mind you, since having kids I don’t really drink. The mere thought of young children and hangovers is too horrendous for me to contemplate. My husband doesn’t share my sentiments and will drink enough for both of us today I’m sure.

    At time of writing it was not clear how Covid was going to affect Christmas but I know it’s going to be magical in so many ways. As it has since the kids were born. Not everyone loves being a parent, or wants to be one but to me it’s the best thing ever. I love everything about it. The challenging parts and the parts that are a breeze. In fact, as full of BS as I might sound, I don’t really find any of it a challenge for that’s all part of the fun. And when I do feel challenged, it says more about me than them. Parenting has been and continues to be a learning curve for me. My children are undoubtedly my biggest teachers and when I’m with them my whole being lights up and delights. I could watch them for hours.

    I know today is going to be no different. My children are two of the most grateful, appreciative, loving human beings I know. As a family, today is going to be magical. But I genuinely believe it will be no more or less magical than the day they came into my life and turned everything I’d ever thought or experienced on its head. The only difference is there will be a lot more noise, food and toys.

    Happy Christmas!

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