Newly appointed Daddy, Chris McGuire, gives us his insight into his first family Christmas…
“It’s for the kids really, isn’t it?” That’s what I used to say about Christmas. In fact, ever since my teens, I’ve mentally checked out of the festive season, seeing it merely as a chance to eat and drink all of my favourite things, in quantities far too large to be healthy.
But, this year, something has changed. Actually, this year everything changed and the catalyst for all this commotion is my son, Sam, who was born over the summer.
For the first time in a long time, I see the juggernaut that is Christmas heading over the horizon and understand that I need to play a part in it more significant than watching Die Hard, twice. I’ve hit the time in my life when I must embrace Christmas as much as, or perhaps even more than, I did during my childhood.
Numerous friends have (not particularly helpfully) reminded me that little Sam will not remember his first Christmas. Nobody does. This, I feel, is missing the point. You see, Sam was born prematurely, meaning we spent a long time in hospital. During this period we learned the importance of living for the ‘now’ – seizing the day. So, this year, will be very festive in our household, Scrooges should head elsewhere.
For the past few weeks, my partner and I have been excitingly debating the best time to put up Christmas decorations. It’s been a tricky task. We want to put them up early enough to make it fun, but not so early that it looks like we forgot to take them down last year. Understand our dilemma? We are yet to find an effective solution.
We’ve also started putting together a Christmas menu, Turkey or Beef? Why not have both? Then there’s stuffing, we’ll make our own; none of this ‘out-of-a-packet-malarkey’ for us! We’re also going to make mince pies – which neither of us like – because that’s what you do at Christmas isn’t it? Who knows, this year I might even eat a Brussels sprout? It’s unlikely, but who knows during this time of change?
I’m also actually considering making a hearth for our fireplace – it’s no secret that I’m not the best when it comes to DIY – just to have somewhere to hang stockings on the big night! Dangling stockings over a radiator just won’t do! Then there’s the tree. We’ve only had an, umbrella-style, fake one in the past. Not this year! It’s going to be real and far too big for our tiny cottage. If it’s not dropping needles by Boxing Day we’ll both be disappointed.
What about young Sam’s letter to Santa? He’s a bit small to be able to write it himself, but we’ve been translating his ‘goos’ and ‘gahs’ in order to ensure the big man knows what our new arrival wants. I have no doubt Sam will love whatever Santa leaves, as long as he can dribble on it and throw it onto the floor – repeatedly. Don’t worry Santa, there’ll be some sherry, several mince pies and even a carrot for Rudolph left out on Christmas Eve.
Friends of ours have discovered our complex plans: “Why are we bothering to go to so much effort?” The answer is simple and frankly it stretches beyond ‘seizing the day’: Practice.
That’s right: Practice. This year will be our ‘Dress-rehearsal’ Christmas. The one where we decide all the traditions that we’ll stick to as a family in the future. Best of all we’ve got an audience in Sam who won’t remember all the things that we get wrong. I’m sure our son’s first Christmas will be the best yet.
That is, of course, unless we fall asleep. As new parents we’re both a little bit tired. Actually, we’re a lot tired. But don’t worry, we’ve even thought of that. We’ll take all the festive photos early in the day. So even if we do find ourselves snoozing on the sofa, we’ll still have evidence of Sam’s first Christmas to show the little fella when he’s older.
Wishing you an exceedingly festive Christmas. I hope all of you, young and old, have a day to remember.
Chris McGuire is a Devon-based writer. He may be snoozing by the time the Queen’s speech is on @McGuireski