The other day, my son asked me what the story of Christmas was and I had to tell him I wasn’t sure. Because, which one? The Jesus one or the Santa one, or some conflation of the two that makes even less sense to a four-year-old?
If I’m honest, I’m a bit hazy on the details of both of those charming tales. I know there was a barn with a manger, which Jesus’s mum probably got through Airbnb or something. Might have been a Groupon offer (semi-furnished holiday accommodation in peak season, view of shining star from the balcony, your choice of 3 Uber drivers for airport transfers). Beyond that, I don’t know.
We ended up talking about the spirit of Christmas instead, which was just as confusing.
‘But what is Christmas for?’ my small, innocent child asked, smearing hummus across his naked body like it was some sort of luxurious skincare product.
‘Christmas is about…giving,’ I told him. ‘It is the reason for the season! The spirit of Christmas.’ I made sweeping gestures with my hands to illustrate my (absent) point.
He looked unconvinced, because he knows me, and this is my oft-employed stalling tactic when I don’t know the answer to something. The more grandly and assuredly I pontificate, the more I am floundering inside. This has gotten me over the line in most, if not all job interviews.
‘You’ll see, it is just as lovely to give presents as it is to receive them!’ I said enthusiastically.
He frowned, and placed a strawberry delicately in his armpit. ‘Mummy, I really just like getting presents though. Like Lego.’
‘Yes. You have mentioned the Lego. But won’t it be nice to give people presents, too?’
He shook his head and muttered something.
This is Christmas with a four year old. They are selfish because they must be. They are alone, already, in this harsh new world. Their parents talk a lot of nonsense, and they don’t even remember the stories that they’re supposed to tell their children that explain why a stranger in a red suit will be breaking into their home while they sleep. Any parent worth their salt would have already bought Bitcoin to go in a virtual Christmas stocking, anyway. It is a wonder these small creatures tolerate us at all.
Merry Christmas, everybody xx