Christmas has a way of bringing out the joy in people. The joy, the cheer and the intricate, confusing and often bizarre lies. This goes double when you’re a parent.
Now not only do you have to tell Aunty Gladys that you love the horrid Christmas sweater she knitted for you, but you also have to come up with a whole range of fibs to keep the magic alive for your kids.
Oh, yes. Christmas is when uncomfortable parenting moments receive a standing ovation. Here are seven of the most awkward:
1. Letters to Santa
You actually actively encourage your kids to write out their hopes and dreams in crayon and then pretend to post them to the North Pole, just so you can ransack them and figure out what on the list is achievable. Magical flying purple squirrel with a tiny bolero? Out. A rocking horse made entirely of caramel popcorn? Maybe.
2. Elf on the shelf
Rather than spend your evening sensibly by catching up on sleep or watching the latest episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians (don’t judge — we all have our vices), you spend hours arranging a tiny elf into yet another bizarre — but often hilarious — pose, just so your kids think it can move on its own.
3. Santa photos
Why is Santa here? Shouldn’t he be making toys? Where’s Rudolf? Why is Santa so thin? You spend hours fielding questions, making up elaborate stories just so your kid can sit on a stranger’s lap for a photo.
4. Lying about Santa
The sled is a hovercraft, that’s why it lands so quietly. Bravo. When there’s no chimney, Santa abseils down the side of the building, jimmies open a window and crawls in that way. You hear the words come out of your mouth and immediately want to kick yourself in the shin. Now you’re going to have to spend three nights in bed with your terrified 4-year-old.
5. Dressing as Santa
Just because lying about it wasn’t enough, now you have to ask your uncle Boris to play Santa without offending him or mentioning his physique. Alternatively, you can “pop out to the store” yourself and hope your kids don’t recognise you or question why Santa changed since the day they took photos with him or wonder why you didn’t actually buy anything.
6. Sneakily wrapping and then hiding presents
It’s midnight. You’ve turned your bed into a wrapping station and hold your breath as you fold every corner and rip every bit of tape. Now to find a good hiding place. Under the bed? Too obvious. In the wardrobe? Not going to work either. You rip up the floorboards to stash the goods. The magic has been preserved.
7. Stealthily placing gifts under the tree
Prepare for a lot of herding and shuffling of kids as you lie through your teeth and attempt to sneak Jimmy’s new bike into the living room.