I don’t know where the whole thing started. But it would be discourteous, in this season of good cheer, to point fingers at any other member of the family.
Suffice it to say that, somewhere between the gentle nest of the home, the mind-expanding pre-school and the intimidating “come hither” of the shopping mall, our three-year-old daughter got caught by the Father Christmas cult.
Like the Moonies, the Father Christmas cult has uncompromising rules that its adherents have to obey with slavish enthusiasm, rules that parents are helpless to defy. The first rule is that there can be no doubting the existence of Father Christmas. The second is that (again like the Moonies) adherents have to make ever escalating demands that eventually clean out their good-for-nothing, doubting parents’ bank accounts, forcing them to return to the indignity of the treadmill once the silly season has passed.
Who is this Father Christmas guy, and how is it that he exerts such hypnotic power? According to rule number one, of course, the hordes of tiny believers never ask themselves this question.
They only question whether or not these big, clumsy parents of theirs have taken the proper precautions so that 1) the Big FC gets their lists of demands correctly, and 2) that the home to which he will deliver said list of goodies on Christmas Eve, while the tiny, grasping mites are sleeping, has been fitted with the correct delivery system.
Our three-year-old lies awake for hours on end thinking about this, and demanding answers to the ever more alarming questions her mind unearths as Christmas approaches. The big one is: “Where is the chimney?”
We are embarrassed. We live in an apartment block, a deliberately chosen lifestyle that makes the parents feel a sense of youthful freedom and recklessness all over again.
But the Little One is not impressed. The solid, rooted, unbelievably expensive lifestyle of a rambling house, a garden that requires at least two gardeners (one dedicated to fighting with the swimming pool), rotating teams of armed guards, dog handlers, maids, etcetera, represents the minimum of her requirements.
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