It’s only the 7th December but already I may have hit PEAK OVERWHELM, at twenty-five past eight in the morning, to be precise. ‘We need to leave NOW,’ insists the small child, ‘We have to get into the hall! First thing! Can’t be late!’

It is turning into a high-octane sort of a breakfast; with much ‘Fa-la-la-la-ing,’ recitation of lines and jigging about. This can only mean that it’s NATIVITY TIME AGAIN.

The Older one has requested a smoothie, and I have acquiesced, chopping pineapple and squeezing oranges. Since they’ve both succumbed to a virulent strain of the cold again, I’m whizzing up the citrus fruits without complaint, to up their intake of Vitamin C.

‘Where’s my flamingo dress?’ she demands, spraying me with fruity, yogurty goodness. ‘Your WHAT?’ I reply, as I use my donkey cutter to make their sandwiches into  appealing shapes, so they might actually eat them.  ‘My flamingo dress,’ she repeats wearily, as though I’m some class of a half-wit.  ‘I brought it home last week.’

‘Oh crap,’ I say, (see how I’ve learnt to moderate my language my language a tiny bit?) ’Your flamenco dress.’

Two weeks ago, upon learning that in their ‘Strictly themed Nativity’ my child would be dancing the tango, I located said dress, popped it in a bag complete with matching hair accoutrements, LABELLED IT and sent it into school. I was most proud of my organisation skills.  ‘Excellent, that’s JUST the thing,’ said her teacher before making the fatal mistake of sending it home again, blissfully unaware of the chaos in which we reside. The dress has since been removed from its bag and vanished.  I fear I may have put it ‘somewhere safe’ which means it may turn up in time for Easter.

Incidentally, since when have Nativities become THEMED? In our day there was a BIBLICAL theme, with wee fellas in dressing gowns with tea-towels on their heads, and a few angels, with tinsel in their hair; none of this “I’m a lonely star’ or ‘I’m a hoity-toity fairy’ sort of nonsense.

It’s like weddings. ‘So what’s your theme going to be?’ asked some eejit who didn’t know me very well on the run up to mine. ‘A what?’ I said, dumbfounded. ‘A theme? So we can’t just celebrate the miracle that two people are willing to commit and tolerate each others’ idiosyncrasies until death?’ I was tempted to tell her that because I’d worked in a Mexican restaurant back in 1999 that I was going to insist all the bridal party don sombreros and have a Mariachi Band to play me down the aisle.  Jeepers, I think she was sorry she asked. But in all fairness,  can love not suffice? Or endurance? That could be a good theme for a wedding: before the meal, guests have to complete tasks in which they  test their skills of resilience and tenacity, then reflect upon how they can bring these skills to their marriage. Anyway, I digress.

Back to this morning. Ten  minutes later I am still popping chopped grapes into small containers and buttering toast when the Small One reappears. She has donned her coat and hat, popped her ear muffs over the top, and is heading for the door. ‘We need to leave NOW,’ she bellows.  I have managed no more than a slurp of coffee and already feel quite defeated.  Maybe a Kaffe-O breakfast will cheer me up, I think. Well, one can hope anyway. Just as long as they haven’t adopted any type of a theme…


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