I didn’t want to give the impression that Weeza complained about her childhood Christmases, or that I was upset about what she said, we were both amused by our not-quite-parallel perceptions.
However, there was one thing I certainly did get right, and I didn’t know that either until that same conversation.
Dave may upbraid me for this, but we did give the children several presents. I think it’s cheering, seeing whole lots of parcels under the tree and, as I said before, I didn’t want present-opening to be over and done with in no time. When Weeza and Al were little, we didn’t have a great deal of spare money and my children didn’t know for years that being given socks and pyjamas and other necessaries was a bit of a cop-out. In those days, I started shopping for their presents early. The Early Learning Centre only had two shops and so did a lot of their sales by mail order, and I had their catalogue early and ordered all sorts of things. Then I browsed book shops and often the Sage and I made things for them, and eventually I got everything together and considered what was for whom. Board games, jigsaws, Lego, books and suchlike, they would both use anyway, and I wasn’t keen on girly toys so tended to avoid dolls, so although some items would be bought with one child or other in mind, there were always some things that would be equally suitable for either.
I never wrapped anything until I was satisfied that there was enough for them both. And then I carefully apportioned everything out, making sure that each pile had the same amount of presents, that they roughly equated in size, style and price, and then finally wrapped and labelled them. Weeza and Al never commented on this at all – but when I referred to it a few weeks ago, Weeza said that she and Al had always checked. They’d gone through all the wrapped gifts in the days before Christmas and counted them out, and they eyed each others’ pile of stuff to check we’d been fair. So, it was just as well I’d taken that trouble, wasn’t it?
Even now, I still try to be roughly equal. And I try to include a present that’s fun. Not necessarily silly, although it could be, but something that you can play with on the day. It doesn’t always work out that way, but I like it to. And ideally, I like to spoil them a bit, because that makes them know that their mummy loves them. The Sage knows it already, so I can get away with giving him a rather ugly cracked mug from 1795. Which he’s already taken to show the local history expert, he’s so pleased with it.