The Looks on their Faces and the Festive Gift of Disappointment


Aright. I’m a sucker for Christmas. I love the wooden Advent calendar. I adore dressing the tree with the kids. I melt when they sing Away in a Manger. Cor blimey, they’re just lovely.

It’s the look on their faces that gets me. The magic. The anticipation. The innocence. The joy! But this year, I sprinkled something left-field. Disappointment.

We don’t do the Elf on that Shelf (I could launch into how the damned Imp is a manifestation of greater and greater extraction of unwaged female emotional labour at Christmas time. How an old bearded white dude gets all the credit for hours of toil, thought and effort of mothers around the world. But I’ll spare you).

No. This year, they had a dose of festive disappointment when the ‘elves’ didn’t bring a sweet for the Advent calendar one morning*.

But it’s ok. I improvised.

Lucky you! You got the gift of giving!

When the elves don’t put a sweet in the box, that’s your cue, sweet children. Go fetch a toy or a book or a game that you no longer play with. And think about how some children don’t have very much. 

What? You mean you can’t possibly choose something? You mean you love all your things so much? You want to start playing with that plastic thing for the first time in 15 months? 

Well, my children, you’ve had the gift of gratitude, then, too. 

It took an hour, but they got there in the end. I’m going to make this a festive ‘thing’ each year.

Merry Christmas everyone x

*I fell asleep on the sofa. Then stumbled to bed without dutifully placing Christmas-themed icing sweets behind door number 16. Parenting fail #623


Liberating Motherhood, Birthing the Purplestockings Movement is out now.


Christmas tree image credit:


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