You’re probably all thinking, ‘yes, you’re right Katherine, Covid has definitely put a dampner on Christmas’, but that’s not where I was going with this...
No, what I’m talking about has already been around to torment me during the festive season for the past two years – and, most frustratingly of all, the problem is entirely of my own making.
That’s because, back in the heady days of 2018 when you could breathe on people with reckless abandon, I decided to purchase an Elf on the Shelf.
Buoyed by Facebook posts from friends promising guaranteed Christmas magic for my daughter (my son was a baby at the time, so all he cared about was waking me up multiple times in the night and drinking as much milk as humanly possible), it seemed like a lovely thing to do.
For anybody not in the know, the Elf is a festive doll sent from Santa to keep watch on your children in the run up to Christmas. He ‘appears’ each morning in a different place in your house, usually doing something cheeky or naughty.
‘What fun’, I thought to myself. ‘It’s going to be so lovely setting up different things for him to do’.
What. A. Moron.
The first day was brilliant. He arrived with a flourish, boldly sitting on the sofa in the living room clutching (as best a flimsy doll with its hands stitched together can) a book explaining why he was there, ready to greet my daughter when she woke up and came downstairs.
My daughter was immediately sold. The elf was duly called Noddy and, for the first few days, I absolutely loved finding things for him to do to surprise my daughter in the mornings.
He drove round in her Barbie car with a Barbie in the passenger seat, he made flour angels in the kitchen, he ate some of her chocolate, he swung across the living room on string tied to the lights. What fun! And then I ran out of ideas...
There’s nothing surer to put a dampner on an evening spent scoffing mint Matchmakers (does anybody not eat a whole packet in one go?) and watching Christmas with the Kranks (what a movie!) than having to spend part of it scouring Pinterest for ‘magical Elf on the Shelf’ ideas.
And that’s if you even remember. There have way too many close calls, where I’ve just got into bed and suddenly Noddy’s little face has popped into my head. He is definitely not so magical when you’re grumpily pouring him a bowl of cereal and strapping him into your son’s high chair at 11pm.
Now, the calm of my December evenings is punctuated with the shrill ringing of a daily 8.30pm alarm reminding me that Noddy needs to be staged, because I just can’t risk not doing it.
If that doll isn’t ransacking my house ready for the morning, Christmas may as well be cancelled. He was mentioned for the first time in August this year. That’s right, it was 31 degrees outside, but that didn’t stop my daughter pondering on what he might be getting up to on his summer off, and getting excited for his return.
So, come Tuesday, that red and white intruder will be making his non-awaited (well, by me at least!) return to the Hollisey-McLean household.
But, like anything you do as a parent, you do it for the kids. And I know seeing two excited little faces when they find out he has returned will spur me on to keep it up until Santa arrives to take him home.
You might just need to remind me of that when I’m on Pinterest at midnight!