moreshortstuff

Life, kids etc.

The nightmare before, during and after Christmas

Drunk Father

Another happy family at Christmas

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE BOLTON NEWS, FRIDAY 23 DECEMBER 2011
HAVE we all got some kind of collective amnesia? Here we are, just a couple of days from Christmas, parading around like it’s the happiest time of the year.
Surely we can’t all have forgotten the nightmare that was last Christmas, or the one before that, or the one before that?
So far this year, the only high point has been getting blind drunk on the night of the works’ Christmas do. But even that left me with a hangover so nasty it could have played the part of Frank Booth in the movie Blue Velvet.
The thing about Christmas is that you think it’s the nice guy and look forward to its arrival. But then it ends up running off with your wife, driving your car and living in your house, while you carry on paying the bills.
Advent calendars sum up the whole festive period quite nicely. Each new door has a lovely chocolate behind it and promises so much… except the chocolate isn’t real chocolate, it’s that cheap tasting “chocolate-flavoured candy”. Yuk.
As December 25 draws ever nearer, you get ever skinter, desperately trying to keep up with the demands Christmas places on you.
Even the lovely Christmas carols are there just to set up us to knock us down. The words to Silent Night may as well be “you can’t sing me, you tone deaf chump, so don’t bother trying to join in“. Can anybody who’s not Whitney Houston actually hit those high notes?
As for the scourge of the Christmas card
Now me, I‘m not a Christmas card sender as a rule.
It’s mainly because I hate the awkward lie you have to make up. You know the one I mean don’t you? The one where you’ve already handed out your cards to EVERYONE, then the quiet bloke in the corner at work hands you a card. So you lie: “Did I not give you yours? I must have left it in the car or something. I‘ll bring it in tomorrow.” You both know it’s a lie, you liar.
But all this pales into insignificance compared to Christmas Day itself.
Oh joy of joys – being woken at the ten past four in the morning by kids who are already bouncing off the walls because they’ve sneakily cracked open a selection box; having them crash down from the sugar high at 9am, and spend the next two hours whining about what they didn‘t get, and why they hate going to church; driving miles to see the family, feeling a bit ill from eating too much, and not being able to drink a drop because you’re driving back; having your tipsy family natter all the way through the Dr Who you’ve been looking forward to but forgot to Sky plus. Wonderful.
Me, I would much rather stay at home counting my money, like Scrooge. Except I haven’t got two pennies to rub together… because it’s bloody Christmas!
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The magic of Christmas. Really.

christmas tree

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE BOLTON NEWS, FRIDAY 9 DECEMBER 2011

IT’S Christmas tree day tomorrow, when the Short family traditionally makes the annual trip to a car park to take our pick of hundreds of identical firs.
We will spend roughly an hour umming and ahhing over the right tree for us while the kids run around and occasionally come looking for us with tears in their eyes because they have fallen over, or been told off by a man.
We will select the tree, then find out it won’t fit in our car. Mrs Short will kick off when I suggest she stays with the kids for half an hour while I take the tree home – but will refuse to leave me with the children because she cannot manage to get the tree from the car to the house on her own.
We will then pay a man £10 extra to deliver the tree, then be out when it turns up late and make arrangements for it to come the following day instead.
When it finally arrives and we take the net off, the damn thing will take up half of the living room.
“It looks a lot bigger than the one we bought,” one of us will say.
Then it’s decoration time. The dust-covered baubles are removed from the loft, most of them broken because they were packed away in carrier bags and the heavy suitcases were then accidentally put on top of them at some point.
We manage to salvage enough of them to make the tree look presentable, hiding the rubbish ones the older child has made at school round the back of the tree, next to the wall where no one can see them.
Oh, the magic of Christmas!
I’m a bit of a humbug merchant if truth be told. I think we do Christmas too early and I think its place as a religious festival has all but disappeared.
I struggle to explain to my four-year-old boy what part Santa plays in Baby Jesus’ birthday celebrations.
In truth though, his understanding of the Christmas story is already pretty warped – he recently told us Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem “to kill the baddie king, Herod”.
The thing is, he’s appeared in a few nativity plays so should really have started to grasp the true meaning of Christmas by now. Although, now that I think of it, he was the only shepherd wearing a Ben 10 Omnitrix last year, which can’t have helped.
A few years ago, one of my young nieces became obsessed by the Christmas story and got very religious for a six-year-old. She walked around with her hands joined together, in prayer, for weeks, and would not do anything that could “make Baby Jesus cross“. It eventually wore off but when Easter arrived a few months later, she asked her grandad what it was all about. When he told her, it blew her tiny mind. “Baby Jesus is DEAD!!???“ she asked in stunned disbelief.
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