Adam Bird


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Monday, 28 November 2011

Ghosts of Christmas Past


With the pregnancy and a million other things happening, Stephanie and I haven’t really paid much thought to Christmas and now that life has calmed down somewhat it is about time that we did!

Growing up, Stephanie and I had very different Christmas’s, which means as a couple, we have quite contrasting views as to what Christmas means to either of us. Stephanie would spend her day surrounded by extended family around a huge table tucking into turkey and trimmings whilst for me, it was always a smaller affair, just the four of us, toys, tears and tantrums, which to me is what Christmas is all about.

Now that Phoebe has arrived safely and our family unit is complete, I wanted our first Christmas together to be a quiet one, with just the four of us. I’ve no romantic ideals about sitting around a roaring fire, toasting chestnuts and listening to Good King Wenceslas playing quietly in the background. Phoebe is far too young to appreciate the experience anyway, but to me, having a quiet day, letting Oliver open his presents (if he is a good boy and Father Christmas brings him any) and sitting down to dinner with just the four of us for the very first time is my idea of Christmas heaven.

Stephanie meanwhile has a very different ideal, wanting us to be around either her parents, or mine, where the rest of either family is likely to be. The scenes at both houses are rather more different, with people buried under maelstroms of wrapping paper and everyone sitting down to dinner on planks of wood balanced between two chairs, fourteen people sitting around a table which is normally built for four. I call it carnage and chaos, Stephanie prefers to call it fun and atmospheric - either way, everyone has a great time.

Whichever way we decide to go this year, whether its a compromise half and half, or spent in peace or madness it’ll be a Christmas that Oliver is likely to remember and as it’s Phoebe’s first, she shall most certainly not. Stephanie and I talk about what our Christmas’s were like growing up and what it was that we did. They were obviously moments that meant a lot to both of us and for us to want to replicate them is always going to ask of the other person to be disappointed.

What we have now though, is an opportunity to make two very special children happy and make their Christmas times as special as ours were. This year has been particularly difficult, so we might not have hundreds of pounds to spend on toys and the long list of items Oliver has begged Father Christmas for during the advert breaks whilst watching Ben 10. But what we do have is family and friends around us, Oliver has his cousins and grand-parents doting on him. Christmas time is about family, the importance of just the four of us as well as the extended ones. Trying to balance them all out so everyone gets an equal share is a balancing act, but whatever Stephanie and I define as a “traditional” Christmas has long since past.

Just like Charles Dickens and his Christmas Carol, Stephanie and I between us have seen the Ghosts of Christmas past. With a bit of magic sprinkle dust we can learn from that, take all the best ingredients and make sure that the Christmas’s of present are as good for our children, if not better - so that Oliver and Phoebe aren’t haunted by our failures in the future.


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