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Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Another letter from Santa

Dear Fran

I have received letters recently from all three of your grown-up children expressing some real anxieties; I understand they are all coming to stay with you over the Christmas period. They seem to feel there is no one else to appeal to and have asked me to contact you, taking on the role of a mediator. Whether I will be successful in getting you to modify your behaviour is in doubt; after all, we have corresponded before, haven't we, without much success in this regard*?

I have read their letters and the grievances they express - some of the material was quite distressing - and have compiled the following list of things I think you should keep in mind if you want to make Christmas bearable for your offspring this year.

1. Perhaps it is time to stop hiding a Brussel sprout amongst the children's Christmas dinners. They didn't find this funny when you began doing it twenty years ago and don't find it funny now. They feel that now they are adults it should be up to them to decide whether or not they like sprouts, and that having to forage amongst their festive meal to look for the sprout before they start eating is demeaning and does not engender Christmas cheer in them.

2. It really is not a matter for tears whether you get the big end of the Christmas cracker or not. Your children feel this is an over-reaction, particularly when the prize is a set of playing cards one centimetre square or a plastic fish key ring. Last year, particularly, they say things got rather out of hand and that clearing up the jug of custard you threw at the wall took a while and was the reason why you all missed the Queen's Speech.

3. Your children feel it is time you dropped the tradition of wrapping yourself a present from a supposed 'secret admirer' and feigning great surprise when you open it on the day. Each of the children, in their separate letters to me, quoted you: 'Oh, how did he know what I wanted?' and 'He always gets the right thing! It's incredible!' If your children know these phrases off by heart, it seems to me this might indicate that they feel rather tired of the whole thing. Your eldest, particularly, is worried, as her father tells her that as well as the usual present from 'Your loving secret admirer' there is another present under the tree this year labelled, 'From your secret admirer's twin'. Your daughter dearly hopes this does not mean an escalation in the whole charade.

4. Your children also feel that it is about time you stopped giving them a pound coin wrapped first in paper and then in fifteen different cardboard boxes. When you began doing this they were at Infants School, and there was double pleasure for them in receiving a pound coin and in the fun involved in unwrapping all the boxes. Now, however, as they are all earning their own wages and feel disinclined to spend an hour unwrapping a pound coin, they wonder whether it is time this practice ceased.

5. Finally, I have to deal with the tricky matter of the word games. The children realise that, as an English teacher, you feel that word games are enjoyable. However, they do not feel the same. They say that they have spoken to you about this year by year in as gentle a way as possible so as not to hurt your feelings, but that you still insist, whenever conversation lapses for more than fifteen seconds, that everyone play 'Alphabet Vegetables' or 'Word-Association-but-you-can-only-use-words-beginning-with-vowels'. Being pointed at and told 'You're starting, yes you are, don't argue, think of a vegetable beginning with A' is, they feel, more than they can bear for yet another year.

I do hope you will take my comments on board for the sake of your children.

Yours sincerely

Santa Claus

PS You will realise I have acknowledged none of the fourteen letters I received from you during November and December with what are quite outrageous requests. I must repeat: I have absolutely NO power or influence with either George Clooney or Johnny Depp, their publicity agents or their managers. I would suggest, anyway, that neither star would want anything to do with crazy women who hide sprouts under other people's turkey and stuffing. Perhaps you should bear this in mind.

22 comments:

  1. Absolutely loved this. Merry Christmas!

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  2. Thanks, Sarah, for visiting. Glad you enjoyed the post. Merry Christmas to you, too!

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  3. I really can't see why people want to change long-established, much-loved (by you) and very well rehearsed traditions.

    Keep them at it!

    A festive season to remember to you, dear Miss, from Friko

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  4. Very funny. You have given me a good laugh today. I suppose Santa is not going to honor my Johnny Depp request either. If anyone had influence over Johnny, you would think it would be Santa. Oh well.

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  5. A nice way to drift into the festivities with a smile. Thanks for the Christmas chuckle.

    Have you ever considered disguising the sprouts as stuffing balls?

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  6. Friko - you're right. People can be so cruel, tearing old ladies away from the routines that make them feel secure. Oh well. Compliments of the season to you, too, Friko.

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  7. Rae - you see? People are always telling me I'm unreasonable to keep asking for a week with Johnny Depp in a secret location, and then I hear that you ask for the same things. So it isn't just me then?

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  8. Martin - tried all the tricks, tried all the tricks.

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  9. Puree the sprouts (blanch in v. cold water after draining to keep the colour) with double cream and season well - fluffy green almost-mashed potato; everyone eats it!

    And don't listen to Santa or your children. I love an ancient custom or two at Christmas - there's a brittle plastic sock-shaped sack, held together with duct tape, that sports the face of Mickey Mouse. It must be 35 years old, perhaps? But it comes out, every year, for the Lovely Son's presents. He daren't complain either...

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  10. Rachel - I love the sound of the Mickey Mouse sack held together with duct tape. I want one! If I'm to drop all my old traditions, I need some new ones.

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  11. Try the old switcheroo, put the presents on the table and hang dinner on the tree.

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  12. Lane - am hanging up the sprouts on the tree right now. Have wrapped them in coloured paper first, though. Hee hee hee.

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  13. Oh, I love the Secret Admirer's twin idea. Merry, merry Christmas!

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  14. Sharon - feel free to use it yourself. Actually, I have a feeling my secret admirer is an octuplet.

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  15. The good news is, a sense of adventure tends to skip a generation. Once you have grandchildren, they will LOVE hiding Brussel sprouts with you! You may have a little competition for the Christmas cracker, though.

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  16. Lesley, I will look forward to the grandchildren with great joy from now on. I can see their school diaries now ... 'On Sundays, we go round to Grandma's and hide brussel sprouts under everyone's dinners'.

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  17. Too cute! I loved this letter. So...did you listen?

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  18. Great blog. i have just done my own version of driving my adult children mad by insisting on reading it out in its entirety.
    hope you had a good one.

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  19. J - Listen? Listen to what? What?

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  20. Elizabethm - how we make our children suffer!!! Great Christmas, thanks. The kids hid my secret admirer plus secret admirer's twin presents in our food store and I had to go and find them. Ho ho ho.

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  21. What? Can't get presents from a secret person anymore? But that happens to me EVERY year even when I celebrate on my own. I have to make sure that I get what I really need - often a good book and something else nice. Or no, I mean, Santa makes sure I get what I really want. And wraps it and puts it under my tree...

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  22. Ann-Katrin - I think this method is the only one guaranteed to deliver the things you really wanted in the first place. And a good book is definitely one of those things, I agree.

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