No3 is largely exempt, just-turned-3 being really too young to understand or sustain excitement long-term, but Christmas mania has hit his big brother and sister hard.
They are living in a wonderland of tinsel, glitter and carols; parties, pantomimes and plays; gift lists, chocolate and fun, fun, FUN.
They are already verging on hysterical: white faces, heavy eyes, high pitched squealing and an inability to sit still, listen or just be.
From the outside, it looks exhausting, albeit magical. For them, though, it is all-consuming. They don’t see the stresses and hard work of Christmas. Although we try to teach them that not everyone is as lucky as they are, we’re soft pedalling the sadnesses and hardships of others. They are just lost in the delight and enchantment of it all.
No2 has her school Christmas party today, and has gone in armed with dress, shoes and the wherewithal to do her own hair. The aim, apparently, is to look like a princess. I remembered, thankfully, in the nick of time that she had nothing to wear between said dress and shoes other than wellie socks or thick grey school tights, and yesterday picked up some special sparkly party ones.
The dress is from last year. The tights from last year made it through about one and a half wears before starting to disintegrate downwards, rapidly becoming little more than fragments of glitter held together with strands of thread.
I paid yesterday with a semi heavy heart. This new pair will share the same fate, as my little wannabe princess, quite rightly, is too young to put them on carefully or to sit with the requisite decorum and lack of motion called for by anything involving a denier. The sensible course of action would be to have sent her in barelegged, or, at a push, in the practical wooly ones she wears every day. She’s 6. Really, would it have mattered?
But the sparkles are the stuff of her dreams. The sheer, fantastic impracticality of childhood made real. And while it hurts my heart that so many other little girls’ needs and wants will go unanswered this Christmas, I can fulfil hers, at least. So I load my needle and get ready to darn at the first sight of trouble. The beauty and the magic will unravel soon enough, do what I might. My gift to her is to keep them alive for as long as I can.