When Christmas Was Exciting!

Dear Children,

You have now emailed us your Christmas list and we are in the process of harvesting the money tree at the end of the garden to furnish you with all the latest gadgets and technology that you deem essential in order to carry on with life in 2017. We know how difficult and socially unacceptable it must be for you to ‘only’ own an iPhone 6 when your peers are all snap- chatting, vlogging and whatsapping with the newer enhanced 7 model.

We will endeavour to appease your request for these critical items as always and ensure that we project -manage Christmas Day according to 2016 standards, however we just wanted spend a moment or two describing how Christmas was when we were growing up in the eighties. We’re sure you will be surprised to hear how things have changed over the years.

The Christmas Tree

You have requested this year that the tree takes on a “Frozen” motif  with blue and white baubles to match the glistening remote-controlled L.E.D lights and glass icicles.  When we were growing up, there was no such thing as a ‘themed’ Christmas tree. Instead there were rows upon rows of multicoloured tinsel, baubles of every colour and lights of blue, red, orange, green and pink.  We kept our decorations for decades and never added to them, they smelled musty and damp from the loft and the Christmas tree wasn’t complete unless it had at least 35 different colours and looked like it was decorated by a 4 year old. To finish off the look, we of course used mum’s 30 year old angel, dressed in a crepe -paper dress which we mutilated annually. (A Christmas tradition -obvs, not Munchausens by proxy).

Christmas Messages

 I know that you will need to hook up to the Wifi from about 7.30am so that you can spend 4 or 5 hours wishing your friends a happy Christmas and send the obligatory e-card. In our day, we used to send people Christmas cards which we hung all around the house on make-shift string contraptions. We would exchange cards on the last day of school, and the next we would see or hear from our school friends would be 2 weeks later after the new year. No computers, no internet and about 10 years before mobile phones were invented…I know..how awful right?

Christmas Jumpers

You mentioned that you needed a new Christmas jumper for ‘National Christmas jumper day’ on the 16th of December. The one we bought last year for you is ‘so last season’ and we couldn’t possibly afford you the embarrassment of wearing the same one you wore for that ‘one day’ last year.  When we were younger, we celebrated Christmas on the 25th December and not before. There wasn’t  a novelty jumper day allowing Primark to cash in ….there was no such thing as Primark. Your Christmas jumper either came from C&A (I’ll explain this later) or it would have been knitted by your grandmother. You would be expected to be wearing this jumper every day until March.

Christmas List

As mentioned above we are in receipt of your email, and have informed Amazon of your wish -list in exchange for promotional voucher codes.  Just to let you know, when we were kids, we used to hand-write a letter to Father Christmas and were not content until we physically saw it addressed to Lapland, and posted by mother. We received our inspiration only by looking through an Index or Argos catalogue. On Christmas Day, we were often disappointed that our exhaustive lists were not honoured but as our parents would often tell us, “You’ll get what your given”. So in essence, formulating a Christmas list was a ritual event, and had no bearing on the presents we received.

Christmas Presents

You have requested that your presents are colour coded under the tree to avoid confusion when opening them. When we opened our Christmas presents as a child, they were delivered to the end of the bed in a stocking… no wait, a pillow case.  We would get about 5 presents in total, wrapped in a mish-mash of last year’s leftover wrapping paper. We’d have one main present, the rest were socks, stocking fillers, a tangerine and a handful of Quality Street. (Btw, Quality Steet came in metal tins, were twice the size of today’s and were NEVER opened until Christmas day).

Christmas Dinner

One of you has requested Salmon for your Christmas dinner, the other Gammon, so again this year we will cook three different dinners. It was Turkey or nothing when we were young and despite everyone hating sprouts- you had to eat them because ….well it was Christmas, so it was the law. Also we would need to have eaten and washed up (a family event) all in time for the Queen’s speech.

Christmas TV

As you have googled what time Eastenders is on and sky-plus’d all the programs you want to see over the festive period, feel free to spend the day online catching up with your youtubers.  Just remember that in our youth, the excitement of Christmas TV started mid December when the Radio Times was published. We would get a nice black felt-tip pen and circle all the programs we wanted to watch on ‘four ‘ TV channels and then go into consultation with the rest of the family. In this annual battle, we would decide what to watch and what to ‘tape’. With only 1 T.V in the house, there was a 25% chance we would realise our televisual aspirations, and in the slim chance it was ‘taped’….the *VHS was often re-wound and *’taped over’ by mum who had enjoyed too many *snowballs.

(*You may have to download an app to translate some of the afore-mentioned jargon)

Christmas Number 1

You have asked for an iTunes gift card again this year so that you can download the X-Factor winner’s song for Christmas day. (No doubt number 1 again in the download chart). When we were growing up, Christmas number 1 was a big deal, but there wasn’t a download chart as we didn’t have internet, smart phones or MP3 players. Instead we would race down to ‘Our Price’ and buy our favourite cassette -tape the week before Christmas. On the last Sunday before the big day, we extended the ariels on our ghetto-blasters as Dr. Fox announced the top 40, we waited with anticipation for the number one spot!  As there was no X-Factor , this was always a complete surprise.

Boxing Day Sales

I know you have requested to go to Westfield on Boxing Day to spend your Christmas money and have set the alarm for 5 am accordingly. You’re lucky that retailers have commercialised Christmas, because when we were younger Boxing Day was still part of Christmas and no shops were ever open. If Boxing Day was a Saturday then the shops would still  be closed on the Sunday. However this was never a problem because Mum and Dad had always bought enough food to last 6 weeks just in case.

We hope you enjoy Christmas, but spare a thought for how things were in our day, when Christmas preparations started in December (not October). It may sound like your worst nightmare…but with less time to prepare, you weren’t bored of Christmas before it had even started…and things were definitely more exciting.

Lots of Love

Daddy and Stepdaddy


The Modern Nativity


Mary had only known Jozef for 6 months, they hooked up one Wednesday evening after both swiping right on tinder earlier that day. Mary was in the doctor’s surgery waiting  for a letter confirming her whiplash injury entitled her to renew her disability claim, and Jozef was taking a comfort break from a 4 hour session of Grand Theft Auto on the X Box.

They met in Olly’s bar in Hemel Hempstead as it was happy hour  from 8 -11pm. After 12 Jaeger Bombs each, they realised it was love at first sight. Shortly after their date, Mary passed out on the cab journey home ,so Jozef made do with a large chicken kebab and cheesy chips in place of a night of passion.

Over the next 6 months they grew closer. Jozef stayed over 3 nights a week (he would have stayed more often,  but as Mary was in social housing, she was careful not to risk losing her housing benefit). Staying at Jozef’s was more difficult, he shared a house with 7 other men- not an ideal set-up, but his uncle had offered him a fantastic opportunity in his car-wash business near the magic roundabout and he was struggling to find work in Poland.

One Tuesday morning, Mary received a friend  request on Facebook, from Angel Gabriel. Mary didn’t usually accept requests from randoms but this guy looked  awfully like a Spanish barman she had spent the night with in Kavos, back in the summer. (She usually holidays in Yarmouth, but thanks to the pay-out from Injury Lawyers 4 U, she treated the girls to a fortnight in Greece).

Lo and behold, Angel wasn’t the Spanish guy from Kavos, but the Health Care assistant from the doctors surgery in Warners End. Angel had been trying to reach her mobile to discuss the results of her recent smear test, but since trading her iPhone 5 in at CeX for the latest model, Mary’s sim was blocked and she hadn’t managed to get to Bovingdon market to get it unlocked.

Angel tells Mary that she is with child,  it will be the son of God, and she is  already 7 and a half months pregnant. (God had really wanted a virgin , however realised that in 21st century Hemel Hempstead this would have been unrealistic if not impossible).

Absolutely flabbergasted by this revelation, Mary began to cry.- It’s true that over recent months Mary had started to put on weight, but she’d put that down to over-indulging in Dominoes ‘2 for 1 Tuesdays’ and the plethora of cheap chocolate she had stocked up on when the new Aldi opened. With little over a month to prepare for the birth of her baby, Mary sobs uncontrollably. Angel tries to comfort her, assuring her that everything will be alright. “It could be worse- Sonia Jackson didn’t know  she was pregnant until she gave birth on Dot Cotton’s sofa”, he explained.

Later that evening Mary told Jozef the news that she was pregnant through ‘immaculate conception’ and that he wasn’t the father. Jozef was angry and even considered taking Mary onto Jeremy Kyle to take a lie-detector test. After further consideration he realised that meant they could be granted a flat of their own  so he decided to stick by his woman.

A week later, Jozef proposed to Mary in Chiquitos and hid the engagement ring inside her enchilada . As he couldn’t afford a diamond ring- he managed to set up a crowd-funding page and raised £65 for a cubic zircon ring instead. Mary was overjoyed and instantly accepted and they agreed to raise the son of God together.

With little funds, and ccjs preventing both from obtaining credit, Mary and Jozef trawled through Schpock and ‘Free and Cheap in Hemel Hempstead’ and managed to acquire second hand clothes and a cot, all from the kindness of strangers. The money that Jozef saved from replacing fags with an e-cigarette allowed them to stock up on nappies,  and there was always the food bank if things got too tight.

The Angel Gabriel warned that they must keep the immaculate conception a secret, but Mary was an ‘over-sharer’ and one freudian slip on instagram and she had given the game away. News spread far and wide and the couple were invited onto Alan Carr’s chatty man, The One Show and even a special edition of ‘Benefits Britain’. The line of questioning was all very similar. “Is he really the son of god?’, “Will he save humanity?”, “Will he be having the MMR vaccine?”

On Christmas Eve, Mary was busy nesting and finding homes for all the gifts they had been sent by various charities and celebrity sponsors, when she suddenly realised they had no pickled onions for boxing day, so she summoned Jozef immediately.  Rather than walk to Aldi in Grovehill, Mary suggested they take Jozefs car to Tesco as they had a good deal on  Prossecco, and it was double club-card points on Christmas Eve.

In a quick turn of events, on the way to Tesco, Mary’s waters broke so they headed to the hospital. At Hemel Hempstead General, they were turned away…the A&E department had closed down along with the maternity wing a number of years ago so they headed to Watford.  Stupidly, Jozef had not put any petrol in the  Nissan Micra so as soon as they hit the dual carriageway towards the M1, the car gave an almighty splutter and came to a stop outside the Holiday Inn Express. Mary had always wanted a water birth, and with no time to waste, Mary checked out the hotel on trip advisor. After discovering it had 3 stars, she booked a room with a double bathtub via the app.

Since learning of her pregnancy, Mary had watched all the available episodes of ‘One Born every minute’  on catch up, so was clear on what to expect. Later that evening,without gas and air nor epidural, Mary gave birth to a beautiful baby boy who they named Jesus (after the mexican waiter at chiquitos where Jozef proposed). Jozef updated his followers throughout the birth via Snapchat and updates on Twitter.

Shortly after the baby was born, Mary and Jozef were visited by three wise men bearing gifts. (The Hotel Manager, a Fitness Instructor from the hotel spa and the Night Porter). The first brought a packet of B&H Gold, the second a Toblerone, and the third a large poinsettia. They quickly made their apologies for their hasty choice in gifts, but understandably it was late on Christmas Eve and the only thing open was the Shell Garage.

Mary had been through quite an ordeal, having only found out she was pregnant a short while before and then forced to give birth in a hotel bath to the Messiah, and so a few days later, it came to pass that she was suffering with post-natal depression.

At her 1st session of cognitive behavioural therapy, her counsellor helped her to explore her feelings and come to terms with her troubles.

The couple were now very much in the spotlight with a wave of media attention and the odd troll on social media, which only contributed to Mary’s symptoms. Mary and Jozef were now reality star celebrities.  Not only did Mary have a newborn baby to look after, but she also had to carry the burden of raising the son of God- all while trying to lose the baby weight as quickly as Rochelle from the Saturdays did.