I remember my Christmasses past in traditions. Holidays matter to small children, and they mattered to me: whatever had happened that year, I knew that Christmas Eve would find me sliding across the sofa in new satin pyjamas, static sparking merrily from my shiny backside, and that Christmas Day would bring bulging Santa sacks, strawberry Roses chocolates, pork in the oven, my beloved and ancient Nanna nodding in the tasselled armchair.
Now we make our own Christmas, I cling to our traditions more than ever. I like it, deciding that from now on we’ll have a Christmas Eve box. From now on our early festive breakfast will fill the whole house with the smell of rising bread. I like ‘from now on’ altogether.
In my better moments, I try to think of the work I do as world-building – because I put together the scaffolding they set their days on. Because when you step backwards into a steaming turd that somehow rolled down a leg and evaded your notice you can tell yourself, removing your sock and retching quietly, that there’s something sacred in doing their dirty work. And holiday traditions are the part of the scaffolding they’ll remember, I hope. If I’m going to build worlds and call it my work, let me build one with stars in the sky.
Anyway, all this is to say that the Christmas Tree video is a little more trouble than it’s worth, and also totally essential. In the weeks before we put up the tree, I play through all the videos from previous years and mourn their babyhoods in the maudlin way parents are addicted to. I watch myself, too, and remember where I was. It’s evidence of the world we built, and it’s silly, but it matters.
This year I will remember that if you want a baby to be interested in her first Christmas Tree, for heaven’s sake don’t decorate it after her bedtime. And that boys everywhere will one day grow large enough to deliberately fart in their siblings’ faces and find it funny. Oh, yes. Here we are.
All our old tree videos are here. Two pregnancies, three rooms, probably about twenty broken ornaments.