There are a few things I can control at Christmas time. I can control when I decide to decorate my house with fairy lights and an over-sized indoor tree. As a lover of the festive season, I chose to “deck the halls”, front room, kitchen and bedrooms during the first week of December.


I can control what food I buy for my husband to cook on Christmas day. I would help with the culinary exploits if it weren’t for the fact that I have a hate-hate relationship with my kitchen, aka, the “Hellbox”. This year, I have decided, we are going long on ham, short on turkey.


What I cannot control is Baby Bear’s reaction to “The Big Man” – Santa; Santie; Father Christmas; Kris Kringle, Saint Nick, Big Micko from the local GAA dressed in the moth-balled red suit. 2017 marks Baby Bear’s third trip to visit Old Saint Nicholas. This year, she has been talking about “Fava Kiiismaaas” a lot, mainly because he has featured in her favourite cartoon “Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom” and the other children at crèche have been toddler talking about him incessantly. I thought to myself,


“This year, she’ll LOVE it! It will be MAAAAGICALLLL!”


I now realise I’m deluded.


Exhibit 1: Christmas 2015: Baby Bear; aged 8 months




Look at that little face, suggesting “I’m an infant, GET ME OUTTA HEREEEE!” Poor Baby Bear has no clue why she is sitting on a strange, bearded man’s lap and her mother and father are both beaming from ear to ear. What the fish, like?


“What is wrong with you people! Didn’t you get some sort of manual to read when I was born? I’m sure it would advise against this sort of carry on! MOTHER! I AM NOT HAPPY!!!!!”


Exhibit 2: Christmas 2016: Baby Bear, aged 1 year, 8 months



At first glance, this photo looks quite acceptable, until you zoom in on Baby Bear.


“What the fish is wrong with these two smiley eejits, bringing me to see this fella again? I’ll have to get all Conor McGregor/Scrappy Doo and get on up in his face. Stay away beardo! And NO! I will NOT be sitting on anyone’s lap this year! I’ll stay with Papa Bear! Now, listen elf taking my selfie, hand over the pressie and let me get outta here with these two so-called ‘parents’.


Exhibit 3: Christmas 2017: Baby Bear, aged 2 years, 8 months



As we wandered towards Santa’s grotto, I was starting to feel confident that Baby Bear was going to enjoy the experience. She told me that “Fava Kiissmasss” says “HO, HO, HO” and that he would give her a present. She skipped down the woodland path that was line with faux-snow-topped trees with Cinnamon, the magic elf, towards Santa’s door. Baby Bear even knocked on the door of the hut!


“Yes! We’re in business”, I thought.




What followed could easily have been included in a remake of “National Lampoon’s Christmas vacation”. Toddler-screaming ensued at the mere sight of Santa.“NOOOOOOO! Fava Kiissmassss, leave me alone!"


She wasn’t even near him. She was climbing up Papa Bear’s legs, like a crab trying to scale a rock.


“It’s alright, you don’t have to sit near him. You can stand at the door”, I said. Baby Bear continued to narrate in pretty much the same manner,“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”


Holy Sweet Mother of Divine tinsel! I decided to ask Santa if he wouldn’t mind standing up, we’d take a quick photo and go. He kindly obliged. Santa looks like he is a bouncer or policeman, trying to exercise some crowd control. When Papa Bear saw the photo, his first words were,“My, my! Don’t I look good in this photo.“Well, that’s great that at least one of us looks good! Because Baby’s Bear’s face isn’t visible at all”, I said.


The magic of Christmas


I must admit, this last photo is one of my favourite family photographs. It epitomises what I wish our family holidays and our family life to encompass – enjoying our crazy family moments together, even if they are not “picture perfect”.


Irene Halpin Long lives in Blarney, County Cork with her beautiful daughter and, rather tall, husband. She is a freelance writer and aspiring novelist. Her blog “Her voice from the kitchen window” chronicles her voice since returning to Ireland in 2015, along with the voices of those she meets and interviews who impact the society in which we all live.
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