Parenting

Ghosts of Christmas future and past


This week I should be telling you what I got up to this Christmas but, due to the wonders of seasonal deadlines, I’m filing this piece some time before anything has actually happened. I mean, you don’t know me so I could just lie, but I feel like that would be against the spirit of this column, if not Christmas itself.

Instead, I’m going to make some predictions of whatwill have come to pass in the past week, since I think I’ve a good chance of nailing it. I’d certainly be more accurate than that scary bloke from A Christmas Carol whose skills as a prophet have always bugged me. Unless I’ve greatly misinterpreted that story – and by this I obviously mean the infinitely superior Muppets version – his whole shtick appears to have been “loads of terrible stuff will happen, unless you stop being a brat”. To me, this marks him out as less of a mystical herald, and more an Irish mammy in a grim reaper costume. Come back when you have the Lotto numbers, you big goth nag.

Anyway, for obvious reasons my family’s traditional in-person Christmas meet-up was shelved this year. Instead, we scheduled a monster Zoom call which will, by now, have taken place. I’m confident it will have been an incredibly lovely, and bafflingly chaotic, piece of video-conferencing, which stretched our heartstrings, and ear drums, to the hilt.

Since it included my 10 brothers and sisters, their partners, my dad and all 15 of his grandkids, I’m fairly sure at least 10% of those 36 participants will have been unable to get their audio working, and a further 20% will have, at some point, disabled their audio on purpose. I’m not saying I will have done this, you understand, I’d just like to make it clear here and now that I truly love hearing two dozen people screaming at once, but I often have trouble with the audio on my laptop and these kinds of things happen all the time.

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Due to the size of our clan, we have always tended toward Kris Kindle for present-giving, since buying presents for each individual member of the family would be both ruinously expensive and take longer than the process of electing a new pope. This year I predict I will receive one of the four things my wife has recently asked me if I’d like, which she only ever does on my Secret Santa’s behalf, and with all the subtlety of a brick through the window. My brother-in-law Jimmy will hopefully have enjoyed the vinyl LPs I bought him or, at the very least, act like he likes them even if news of his fondness for Afrobeat and Nigerian electronica was greatly exaggerated.

Finally, my dad will have been typically delighted with the exalted position he assumes each year, the sole person in these exchanges who receives a gift from everyone, as a sort of drawn-out form of compensation for having endured his litter of demanding, sarcastic and horribly loud children for all these decades. Eventually, we will have logged off one by one, mildly sozzled and slightly melancholy. Sad that we’re apart, but gladdened by the thought that we’ll be together again one day soon, even if that means not being able to turn the audio off whenever we like.

Follow Séamas on Twitter @shockproofbeats





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