1. The usual seasonal Christmas tasks, such as buying presents, wrapping them, cooking special treats, cleaning up the house, write a few cards, attempt the holiday photograph, hang the last few ornaments, remember to turn the Christmas lights off during the day time to save energy and the planet, prepare for the children’s Christmas parties at school, order the turkey, more laundry and packing, bake for the neighbours gifts, visit the Christmas light show one evening after school before it gets too busy.
2. The less common ongoing non-seasonal tasks – Continue the desensitization campaign. Encourage, persuade and sooth the child that is incapable of going upstairs on his own either in daylight or darkness.
3. Dig out the Christmas Social Stories to remind one child that Christmas stockings are not the work of the devil, that he can put his hand inside the interior of a stocking to extract a present without risk of hand damage.
4. Practice ripping paper. Practice ripping paper with our hands. Introduce scissors for the truly desperate.
5. Remind everyone that it is o.k. to sing ”Jingle bells, Jingle bells, jingle all the……..’ insert random word, fall on the floor laughing. Ensure that the random word is not a potty word. Perseverating on this song will only be allowed for a period of one hour maximum.
6. Gymnastics are permitted at any time for as long as it takes but the exercises must be free of balls or any attempts at juggling anything.
7. Kinesthetically practice receiving a gift graciously, preferably with the accompaniment of a few well chosen words. ‘Thank you’ will do just nicely. Parents to model desired behaviour once in every 24 hour period.
8. Although ‘catastrophic’ is the new favourite word, we shall only use it within the confines of our own home, as it causes too much confusion in public.
9. Repeat the tradition of all making one Christmas ornament together for the tree. This year ensure that the exercise avoids glue, glitter, paper, cotton wool or any other tactily challenging substance. What would that be exactly?
10. This year, may there be less cause for howls of disappointment and frustration, or failing that, less volume.
11. Try and beat last year’s record of the 9th of January. This year all presents will have been opened by New Years Day, or is that foolishly optimistic?
12. Remember that most children have more pleasure in receiving than giving. Please let my children have pleasure in receiving. Please may just one of their gifts give them pleasure.
13. Remain hopeful and positive. Maybe by the time they reach window 24 on their Advent Calenders,
one will be able to use his own fingers to open the paper square.
Another one will find a way around the difficulty. The difficulty of covering your ears so you can’t hear your siblings cry ‘ooo it’s a sleigh’ which spoils the surprise. The difficulty of not wanting the surprise to be spoilt but simultaneously wanting to open the window yourself, with your own dodgy little fingers. The difficulty of making your eyes track the numbers whilst there are so many distractions and the over-riding excitement of anticipation.
Just maybe, by 24, everyone will open the little door at approximately the same time and enjoy precisely the same delight.
But if not this year? No pressure. No rush. Maybe next year? Or decade.