There are not many perks to having teenagers, let’s just be honest for a minute. Although there will always be some twat reading this who frowns at their screen reminiscing of all their ‘Walton’ moments. Actually, now you have made me ponder it … there may be a couple! For example, having somebody to make you a cup of tea (or more likely witches piss), wash the pots occasionally (leaving clumps of sprouts still attached to the pan) and of course walk the dog (leave the garden and stand around the corner for 10 mins having a fag before they return, dog un-walked).
Anyway I suppose they have a mild level of usefulness but the perk I was particularly mulling over today, was the idea that at times they have the ability to propel us back to our own childhood and fill our heads with memories of days gone by. I had just such a day yesterday whilst christmas shopping with the oldest two. Now this is a new experience for me. Now they are no longer encapsulated by the magic bubble of Santa and Christmas, I don’t mind them getting involved in the planning and prep of Xmas that I find somewhat, just as exciting as the day itself. I mean mostly if I am truthful, I love going to parties and getting smashed whilst belting out Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas’ but to be fair, my kids are still at the getting smashed on Frosty Jacks in the Park stage so christmas probably doesn’t change that for them too much (just so it is on record … I hope this is not true .. but I am aware there could be more than a dash of truth in this).
So, whilst shopping, they were choosing their advent calendars. To cut a long story short, she chose a Yankee Candle one at a pricey £20 and he chose a Lindt one at slightly less gasping £10. Nonchalantly, the 15-year-old daughter asks me “What advent did you used to choose Mum”. I explained to her that we didn’t have these kind of advent calendars when I was a young one. After they stifled their giggles and looked at me with disbelief, they refuted my statement.
“Mum you must have had advent calendars, you were probably just too poor to get one”. Yes to be fair there was that! This led me to explain a bit about an 80’s advent, whilst they stood gawping at me like I had just shit on their shoes!
I began to describe the excitement we had over our advent calendars, just the way they do theirs. I described the A4 advent calendar which was simply a piece of card adorned with festive christmas images. Yes, just images, no playmobil santa toy, no bag of lego, no scented candle and not even a slab of odd tasting chocolate. You know, penguins skating on ice, three kings excitedly pointing at a star, a sprig of holly/mistletoe. So every day we would open one of the doors excited to learn what the image would be underneath. Well not every day, since we shared a calendar between 4 people ..so every fourth day, you would get another turn. But it didn’t stop you from gathering around, eager to catch a glimpse of the day’s new picture! Now Xmas Eve was a bit of double treat … because you would get a double door to open! Oooooooooooohhhhhhhh! Behind the door most often would be a lovely picture of the baby jesus surrounded by his doting parents…. who would have guessed that? It was so bloody exciting.
Now if you were really lucky, your mother may have purchased a ‘Advent Candle’. Now this was exciting stuff. Every single day (yes every single day) you got to watch a centimetre of the candle burn away. Yes!! No really you did!! Was it fragranced? No! Did the smoke emulate Fantastic Beasts? No! You simply got to sit and stare at the wax be eaten up by the orange flame beast. Wait .. you thought that was it didn’t you? No the best was yet to come. You had to watch so carefully, so you could be the first to jump and be the blow it out when it was at the end of the marker for that day. How cool is that! The pressure and tension were unbelievable: akin to Christmas Morning itself.
In all fairness, whoever thought of that was a genius. It bought parents a few minutes of peace a day (pre device days), whilst the children were occupied by a candle … yes a candle! Who needs ipads?
Now advent calendars are just one of our many traditions, as I’m sure they are yours.Other things my darling children get to do are trips to the theatre to watch the Panto. “You must have watched the Panto mum?” they worriedly asked. When I informed them of what our parents did in order to contain our excitement and anticipation for the main man arriving they looked genuinely heartbroken. I couldn’t understand their looks of pity. I mean I loved colouring in my Jumbo Christmas Colouring Book whilst looking at all the fruit and the tin of Quality Street that we were absolutely NOT allowed to touch until Christmas Day. Still it was comforting to be surrounded by such treats, right?
“Ok … well you must have snuggled down with your parents to watch Christmas Films on the sofa on Christmas Eve Mum”. I hated to keep seeing their faces full of anguish at my fond memories of childhood but I shared them all the same. I explained all about the Working Men’s Club Establishment. I explained that in the 80’s children did not own their parents, and as such parents were free/allowed to go out and enjoy themselves guilt free without some jumped up little fucker on Facebook accusing them of neglect. In hoards, parents would skip off to the pub hand in hand with the partner they had managed to keep as they still had a life together and they would settle down with their friends for the night (yes this generation even had time for friends!). They would watch ‘Meat Dog (tribute to Meat Loaf)’ throw out some vocals whilst sharing their Tupperware tubs of pickled onions and pork pies that they had bought to share with neighbours and friends. Yes in the 80’s people knew their neighbours as they didn’t have to work 15 hour days in order to pay for the piles and piles of presents that their children were not ever going to play with and were never going to be grateful for. This was a double-edged sword as it also meant that they did not have to spend 12 hours of Christmas Eve wrapping said presents and therefore freed them up to go and get smashed in the club.
“Didn’t everybody feel sorry for you Mum” they asked. No kids because in the 80’s there was a common understanding that children were not the be all and end all of this world and that to raise children successfully did not mean that they had to have every single Kylie Jenner Lip Gloss or encompass every second of their parents lives but instead that children (and parents) enriched each others life’s and a parents job was simply to ensure said child did not die!
Take me back to 80’s Advent any day … I might have some money in the bank and a shred of sanity!