Monday, December 17, 2007

Trying to explain clock-free living to a time-obsessed five-year old - and Christmas

Lyddie: "So when are you going to get dressed and go downstairs?"

Me: "Soon."

Lyddie: "But what time?"

Me: "When I've finished typing this email."

Lyddie: *Looks at clock* "Nine o'clock then?"

Me: *Stops typing.* "Look. Some people like to do things at set times and some people just like to do things when they're ready, or when they feel like doing them. I like doing things when I feel like it, or when I'm ready to, ok?"

Lyddie: "Ok. But don't forget we're going out at twelve o'clock."

Me: *Sighs, gives up.*

We're not going out at twelve o'clock, or at least we don't have to. She's just decided we are, and where we're going. McDonalds. I hate McDonalds! But of all the places she could choose to go for a Christmas outing, McDonalds is apparently it, so I will go there and eat their cardboard fries and I will smile about it. Is their coffee any good nowadays? Any other recommendations?

Other than enduring McDonalds, Christmas in the Kilner house is a very laid back affair nowadays. In years gone by I have hosted parties - as many as five per season, attended many others, sent hundreds of cards and wrapped presents at 4am on Christmas morning, which I shopped for at midnight the night before.

Before that I was running a busy pub, so Christmas was just one long series of impossibilities. It has got easier every year since, so that nowadays I even get to enjoy it myself sometimes.

When I was a child, it was all about church. But I don't want to have my festival of lights in a cold unlived-in stone cavern of a building while our family home stands empty. And I don't want our celebration of the birth of a new sun to be hijacked into the birth of a new son, though since it dawned on me that Christ actually means 'light' I do feel slightly better about this. However, I increasingly want to follow my instincts and celebrate on the actual solstice, so I'll be lighting fires and candles early on Saturday morning after which the days start getting longer again and the year will feel to me like it has turned.

Santa will come down our chimney on Christmas Eve, of course. He will leave a black sack full of gifts for everyone, many of which are already bought and wrapped. (I must be getting old!) And the teens will go along with it and pretend to be delighted that he gave them slippers and socks and books again. I've been giving them cash for their main gift for years and it's always a struggle to work out what else they could possibly make use of, to open on the day.

We got a tree last week and decorated it. Here is Lyddie putting the angel on top:

It's a little tree this year, on a table so that the baby can't 'play' with it in that charmingly destructive way that toddling babies tend to approach things. Some of the decorations are very old, delicate glass ones. Those are at the top, out of reach, but she can reach the safe ones at the bottom. So we're playing at 'put the decorations back on the tree' every day. Fun!


Blogger Schuyler said...

We are having a Solstice Celebration this year instead of waiting for Christmas. It will look much the same as it would look for Christmas, but 3 days earlier. It means more to me to celebrate the turn from increasing darkness to increasing light. And without extended family to celebrate with, there is no point in keeping up the tradition.

10:55 am, December 17, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Schuyler, that sounds like a much better idea! I think I might see how the others feel about doing it that way next year. Hard to get around the tradition of Santa coming on the night before the 25th though. But I'm not sure how much of that is me projecting my image of how things should be onto them, and how much is them! (and TV etc)

11:46 am, December 17, 2007  
Blogger ruth said...

Some of my kids are going to a Solstice party on Saturday and I always light candles e.t.c. I am quite excited tbh cos of the longer days. The rellies involved have their celebration then instead of the tradition 25th and I must admit it is tempting to do the same.

I find teen buying hard and they usually end up with books and smellies and in C case p.j's lol.

7:38 pm, December 17, 2007  
Blogger Allie said...

I'm with Lyddie on the time thing! I set myself time limits - and keep everyone else by the clock when we're going out.

1:31 am, December 18, 2007  
Blogger Lisa G said...

My sympathy, I have a time-obsessed (to put it mildly!) 10 year old, one of those Aspie traits I can never quite get my head around!
I love the idea of celebrating Solstice instead of xmas, much more in tune with my life and beliefs, but I'm hosting xmas for my far more traditional family and my kids are now probably too old to try and change that so xmas it is!

9:49 am, December 18, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Ruth, one of my teens doesn't even read books! Well not much, anyway. I'll buy him erm... a coffee mug! And some slippers :-)

Allie, I don't like to be late when we're due somewhere for a certain time but I've deliberately cut a lot of those kinds of things out of my life so I don't have to clock-watch all the time. Lyddie taught herself to tell the time before she learned anything else academic at all. She always knows the time and knows to the half-hour when things are supposed to be happening! She gets very vexed then if they didn't happen when she expected them to.

Lisa, yes the 25th seems just so arbitrary, doesn't it? I suppose they introduced the change when the masses were dependant on government/church to tell them which date the true solstice fell on?

3:19 pm, December 18, 2007  
Blogger Augustin Moga said...

Re: McDonalds. There seem to be only one thing that I can order in a McDo -- icecream. (Unless I haven't ate anything for a week or so :-)...)

9:53 pm, December 18, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Hi Augustin. I didn't try the ice cream. I had a sandwich with something vegetarian in it and salad - on brown bread! It was quite edible, though I'd have enjoyed it more at home.

Lyddie was very happy just to be there though. I have no idea why! But it's nice that she's so easily pleased :-) (As long as we don't have to go too often!)

11:08 pm, December 18, 2007  

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