Monday, July 15, 2024

Bah-Mumbug – Confessions of a Scrooge Mother

Christmas is overrated. There. I said it so you don’t have too. Yes, yes, it’s all sooooo magical, and it’s all about the children, and look at their little faces, yadda yadda blah etc. 

But actually children make Christmas an awful lot of hard work, and when you own them there is an awful lot of pressure on Christmas to be super-mega-brilliant. 

Well I crumble under pressure. And my kids act like feral animals under the influence of even small amounts of chocolate, over-excitement, shiny new things and flashing neon lights.

So I’m going to get my Bah Mumbug list of anti-xmas confessions off my chest.

  1. Real trees are stupid

Let’s start with the needle dropping thing, and the fact the branches are usually too limp to hang even a normal bauble, let alone the ceramic paint-a-pot hand/footprinted ones you are now obliged to get for each baby.

But what really annoys me about real Christmas trees is that they are all short and squat. Yes. I am going to BODY SHAME CHRISTMAS trees. And my reasons are both aesthetic and practical.

First off, they don’t fit in my long thin living room. Secondly, I already have enough short and squat in my life. I live short and squat everyday, and I do not need an overdressed foliage echo of my own existence sat in the corner as a reminder.

My fake tree is tall and rather elegant. Or at least it was, until I had to decorate it with children. Now it has lost any claims to taste it may once have had – again, very much like my good self.

Instead of co-ordinated and artfully arranged glass decorations I now have haphazardly applied tinsel in a range of interesting rainbow hughes, flashing multi-coloured lights, and sh*t Christmas drawings/crafts where my children have made no effort to use a realistic palette, have clearly failed to follow basic instructions, and haven’t even coloured within the lines.

The first year of having children old enough to ‘help’, I’ll be honest, I struggled with this. Now I’ve given up.

Another personal metaphor…

  1. My kids are sh*t at art, and if possible, even SH*TTER at Christmas art

There is A LOT of craft at Christmas. Most of it seems to have found it’s way onto my bloody tree (see above).

I always had visions of myself as a crafty mum, painting, cutting and sticking with my children. Turns out my children are terrible at art. 

Obviously ALL children are a bit sh*t at art, having only just learned how to effectively operate fine motor control etc, but mine are particularly bad. I see others drawing recognisable people with facial features actually in their heads, and the traditional number (and placement) of limbs. In contrast, mine very much follow the school of Picasso. They may be abstract, impressionist proteges, but frankly I doubt it.

This used to give me a tic in the corner of my right eye, and I used to helicopter over them – leaping in to ‘help’ with pictures and projects and pretty much taking over. 

Now I make myself a strong cup of tea, benignly tell them they’re doing a great job, and do my own version of whatever we’re making so I’ve got one thing that actually turns out nicely.

At Christmas time I am forced to endure more than their normal levels of creativity. Which are prolific. And horrific. And then aided and abetted by friends and family buying them craft-based presents. 

Roll on bloody January. 

  1. Elf on the Shelf is also stupid

I understand that it’s all about keeping the magic alive, etc, but frankly I’m more likely to attempt to resurrect Paul Daniels than I am to Elf on a Shelf. 

Let’s start off with how incredibly creepy the ‘real’ Elf on the Shelf is. Does this not take anyone else back to doll-based horrors of the 80s and 90s? Why would you do this to your children??? A manically grinning doll, sent by Santa to spy on them, creeping around the house at night doing stuff. Brrrrrrrrr. ALL KINDS OF WRONG, ALL AT ONCE. 

Then there’s the fact I already have two little devils running around spilling, moving, unravelling and ruining my sh*t. I do not need to personally aid and abet this.

Finally, there’s the effort. And I’ll be honest, this is by far and away my biggest barrier. I simply do not have the time, imagination or energy to get this done every day. And actually, that makes me feel rather disappointed in myself – certainly in the parent I always hoped I’d be. 

And if I don’t understand or can’t do something, I will therefore deem it ‘stupid’, and continue to judge it in some sort of public online forum, because that is the modern way.

  1. Nativity plays are rubbish

Look, I know I’m supposed to go all gushy and gooey over the nativity play, but I can’t be alone in thinking they’re usually pretty awful affairs, right?

I mean, the production values are ropey, the costumes are shoddy, the acting is – at best – wooden, no one’s ever learned their sodding lines and they’re either projecting too much or not enough. I’m also not sure anyone really understand their motivation for the role of ‘third star’…

In all seriousness, at most nativities you mostly get to watch the teachers doing an over-animated version of all the singing and actions and some poor, overwhelmed kid having a meltdown. Usually mine.  

The Small Small Person is as yet too small for this stuff, but I think it’s safe to say that RADA are probably not going to call for the Big Small Person any time soon. Luckily the most emotion she conveyed this year was at the side of the stage, where her squirming boredom took me right back to my own experiences of assemblies and concerts, the parquet flooring grinding into my sitting bones, and the agony of waiting literally rolling my head on my shoulders. Horrid. 

Just for enduring this she got the biggest hug at the end and I told her she’d been absolutely brilliant.

You see I am not completely cold-hearted! I cried at the first few school drop-offs, for instance, and I would even go as far as describing a tot’s ballet production the Big Small took part in as womb-clenchingly cute.

But I’m afraid the nativity just doesn’t float my boat. It feels as if there’s too much obligation to get everyone on stage en masse, and too little actual joy.

Also I’m too short and squat (see no 1), so I can never see a bloody thing over other parents’ heads anyway.

  1. I hate wrapping

I am officially the world’s worst wrapper. I can’t get the folds right, and every end of every present of every single shape looks like it’s got a pair of socks stuffed down it. My own hair or cat fur is always caught underneath the tape, and I never have any labels so I write on them in felt tip, which usually smudges.

You’re welcome, gift receivers!

Last year, as a particular highlight, I was tearing sellotape with my teeth and actually sellotaped off the top layer of skin from my bottom lip. It hurt like b*ggery.

At least now I can blame the sheer wretchedness of my wrapping skills on the children wanting to ‘help’. Children never actually want to help, btw. The reality is it’s usually just me, at midnight on Christmas Eve, getting backache, soul ache, and lip ache on the living room floor.

Sounds like it ought to be way more fun than it actually is. ;(

  1. I hate unwrapping 

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE presents! I even love the middle-aged mum presents that I’d have hated 15 years ago. Like handheld vacuum cleaners or slow cookers. Wooooooo! This year I’m hoping for new pjs and a hot water bottle. Fingers crossed!

No no, I mean the unwrapping on behalf of Small People. Parents will know immediately where I’m going with this.

At some point in the past, master criminals must have made a point of stalking toy aisles with nefarious intent, slipping toys out of their packaging and selling them on for HUGE profit. Big toy companies must have gone bust, the economy must have faltered, life in the UK must have been on the brink of collapse.

Because there is simply no other explanation for the excessive security now deemed necessary for bits of plastic retailing at £9.99.

All toys are now strapped down with so many plastic tags, wires and zip-ties they look like kidnap victims, or willing participants in some pretty heavy-duty bondage. (I imagine). Cars, dolls, pianos, action figures – all get the same treatment. And then they are then wrapped in more stink-wrap plastic and sellotape for good measure.

It takes 20 minutes with two pairs of scissors (industrial and nail) and a fresh-bladed stanly knife to free anything. All the while your children have gone savage under enforced delayed gratification, given tantalising glimpses of toys they can’t play with – and snippets of words they can’t say.

Once child and toy ARE united, you then have to dig in the garage for the screwdriver set, only to find out the toy takes 5 billion batteries in a size you don’t have anyway.

I’ve googled the Toy Heist Crash, but as I can’t find anything on it I can only assume toy packaging designers hate all parents.


  1. I’m coming to hate Santa 

Yup. I went there. #sorrynotsorry.

Santa has made me into a big, fat liar.

I’m afraid I was #soblessed in the Big Small Person with a person in turn blessed with unusual incredulity and skepticism. (This is particularly galling as I myself am horrifically credulous, and even downright gullible). 

When she was only 3, I was answering detailed questions about how Santa came into the house, why the fireguard hadn’t moved, and how he could use the catflap without a special collar like the cat?



This year, at 5, she’s looked me right in the eye and told me she knows he isn’t real (damn you Big School!) and that it’s the parents leaving the presents, and that it’s okay, she won’t tell anyone else, and she’ll know when she’s a grown-up anyway. 

“Tell me the truth, Mummy.”

I can’t help but feel she’s too young for this conversation, but that left me directly lying to her face. 

This made me much more uncomfortable than I expected it would, given my fondness for hyperbole, stint in PR, and tendency to edit my own life-narrative in order to appear less of a kn*bhead to myself. 

It’s already become a tangled web of lies as she continues to present me evidence of his non-existence, and tries to trip me and her father up in our mistruths. It’s exhausting. And possibly morally reprehensible. But mostly exhausting. 

Santa in general is fraught with issues. There’s the fact he gives a slightly different service to every family, looks different at each grotto and in each film, and then – like the Elf and AXE MURDERERS – sneaks into houses in the dead of night. Should we really be overriding our children’s natural instincts (and our own instructions) not to talk to strange men, sit on their knees, let them wander around their bedrooms at night, or accept presents from them? I don’t know.

For this year I’ve gone with the ‘don’t believe, don’t receive’ defence, but the kid isn’t actually that bribable. (Also unlike me).

Santa, I think your days might be numbered, love. 

  1. Turkey is just slightly uglier, less tasty, chicken 

You know it. I know it. From the betrayed look on their ball-sack faces, even turkeys know it.

If you want to eat a Dr Who monster’s pale, dry, crumbly flesh, that’s quite your own affair. I’d prefer to stick with a nice juicy, greasy chicken. 

Only I’m not going to, because it’s not traditional.

So I’ll be eating turkey, but all the time I’m doing so I’ll know it’s just crap chicken. And so will you.

  1. Christmas jumpers are stupid

Here’s the thing: I LOVE Christmas jumpers! The brighter, brasher and more garish the better. I know this is wrong, but I am fatally attracted to them. And I therefore don’t own any.

This is because I know that once I start down this route, it will spiral out of my control and it won’t stop at Christmas.

I fear, you see, that I am on the brink of descending into a full blown case of what I’m calling ‘Timmy Mallet syndrome’. I blame the children. Basically, if I see clothing adorned with cute, cuddly animals, or even in their favourite shade of pink, I want to buy it.

Children are NOT a good enough excuse for dressing like a children’s TV presenter. Hell, even BEING a children’s TV presenter isn’t a good enough excuse for dressing as a children’s TV presenter.

I must resist. For the sake of my horrified pre-child self, I. Must. Resist.

And so should you.

Despite my Scrooge tendencies, I will admit there is also much to LOVE about Christmas! The excuse to eat interesting cheeses, MULLED WINE, opaque tights, sparkles becoming acceptable day wear, MULLED WINE, time off work, lindt chocolate season, and of course, just looking at their little faces when they open their presents. 

After all, it’s all about the children, really, isn’t it? 

Happy Christmas. 


This post was originally published on Mumonthenetheredge. For more from the blog click here, check out some of the recent posts below or pop along to Facebook!

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