A Time for Giving


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1. Picture Christmas

Picture 25th December, the most perfect day out of the whole 365 day year. Mum's been preparing the most delicious Christmas dinner since 2pm on Christmas Eve, eventually being celebrated with the parents and siblings sitting down at 6pm to drink hot chocolate topped with marshmallows, chocolate sauce and squirty cream and watch 'Elf' for the fiftieth time. Your younger siblings are traditionally sent to bed extra early on this particular evening, though they're got it into their heads that they're actually going to bed later (due to Dad's handy work in running the clocks forwards by a couple of hours) and Mum's proficiency at doing a great job of convincing them that the earlier they go to sleep, the earlier Santa will come and bring EVEN MORE presents. Then at 5am the next morning before the dawning sun has even attempted to crack, your younger sibling runs around the house like a lunatic shrieking "Santa's been! He's been! And he are my mince pie and Rudolph took a huge chunk of his carrot!", eventually followed on by him, or her bouncing around on your bed and forcing the covers away from your head, when all you want to do is sleep; Christmas doesn't seem the same when you're older, it's great fun and a holiday to celebrate for sentimental reasons, but the fun of Santa and his little elves running around in their curly green slippers has been stripped away from your imagination for at least a few years. You groggily and somewhat feel the need to grumpily wake up, but then you remember today's all about Christmas cheer and joy and peace, so you quietly slip your dressing gown on and trudge downstairs to find Mum 'slaving away' in the kitchen whilst Dad's still snoring his lazy fat head away, all tucked up in bed. At bang on 6am, the siblings can't bear to wait any longer, any second longer will be too far away and so together, you're busy tugging the covers away from your Father's warm and comfortable body, squirming with delight as he fights back at you and you can hear Mum chuckling away to herself as the smell of freshly baked mince pies leaves a lingering sweet smell of pastry floating around each room. It takes you exactly 3 minutes and 7.89 seconds to convince Dad to shift his overhangingly gross belly from melting into the soft memory foam mattress and you make a mental note to remind Mum to keep nagging at Dad to shift those pounds quickly, or your friends'll be mocking you and asking how you managed to keep Dad's real career a secret and being hounded by excited 3 - 8 year olds who really do believe in Santa, who gawp in your window for the next four to five weeks until the Easter bunny takes over their creative little minds. It's 6:20am and now you're all united as a family downstairs, Dad's sleepily guzzling away at his cup of tea trying to be enthusiastic, Mum's cooing with delight at each and every present and you're finally beginning to get excited, it's Christmas and you're determined to indulge in the festive cheer. The first hour of opening presents has passed and Dad's had the least, your younger sibling has the most. Wrapped presents are still scattered on the floor, around the tree, through the hallway and up the stairs. Dad's turned the telly on to gimicky tv and Mum's gone to turn the turkey over and you're texting all your friends, wishing them a Merry Christmas, endlessly repeating the gifts you received on your Christmas list. Perhaps Holly got a duff and pre-teen festive sweatshirt, or Ryan's been given a car. Dad's tuned out of the telly and his attention's on the food. He's crept into the kitchen and is slyly digging at the food, Mum's slapping his hand away with slight annoyance and sends him back into the living room to pester you and your younger sibling. Perhaps if you have a three year old sister, Mum's given him the task of putting her new Barbie car or Silvercross pram together. An hour later he's either triumphant or in a royal huff as he swears he won't be touching that thing again and Uncle Paul's gonna have to sort it, Mum's getting stressed about the catering side of things. The guests are arriving in just over an hour, the house is a tip with gift wrap strewn all over the place and so you've been roped into setting the table in the dining room and making it all comfortable, cosy and festive; though for Mum it'll never be perfect, even if she got an interior designer in it wouldn't be perfect enough! 11:33am and there's the dreaded bell that drowns out the sound of Dad's inappropriate belching, Mum's going crazy for a number of reasons, Dad's burping and your guests are exactly 27 minutes early! Who even arrives 27 minutes early?! Your ears hurt from your younger sibling's squeals of excitement. Dad finally removes himself from the chair he's sunken in to, almost leaving a bodily imprint (ok, he did help Mum). You hear the faint mumble of merry greetings as Dad answers the door and in steps your Auntie, followed by your Uncle who cracks a festive joke the moment he steps in, slowly drowned out by the belly laugh erupting from your Father. The clan slowly trundle towards the living room where Mum's finally pulled herself together, this is if, there's no going back. Half sung 'Merry Christmas' greetings are exchanged and presents are whipped out in all directions. Your younger sibling is the first to strip that present bare, Mum stands there cringing hoping they've taken dual note to their Christmas wish list, just incase they inappropriately and ungratefully criticise the choice of gift. A sigh of relief erupts as your younger brother or sister cracks a huge smile across their face. Finally, all the guests have arrived, Christmas dinner is great, Mum's topped last year's feast, you're all food coma'd to the max and yada yada yada, you get the jist.

Only for some, Christmas isn't all that great, it's just another reason for argumentative parents, or ungrateful brats of siblings to be disappointed with the gifts they've received.

Christmas this year will be completely and utterly duff. Normally we have this huge gathering, a real Vinette shin dig.

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