Thursday 23 December 2010

Fair's fair

I didn't want to give the impression that Weeza complained about her childhood Christmases, or that I was upset about what she said, we were both amused by our not-quite-parallel perceptions.

However, there was one thing I certainly did get right, and I didn't know that either until that same conversation.

Dave may upbraid me for this, but we did give the children several presents. I think it's cheering, seeing whole lots of parcels under the tree and, as I said before, I didn't want present-opening to be over and done with in no time.  When Weeza and Al were little, we didn't have a great deal of spare money and my children didn't know for years that being given socks and pyjamas and other necessaries was a bit of a cop-out.  In those days, I started shopping for their presents early.  The Early Learning Centre only had two shops and so did a lot of their sales by mail order, and I had their catalogue early and ordered all sorts of things.  Then I browsed book shops and often the Sage and I made things for them, and eventually I got everything together and considered what was for whom.  Board games, jigsaws, Lego, books and suchlike, they would both use anyway, and I wasn't keen on girly toys so tended to avoid dolls, so although some items would be bought with one child or other in mind, there were always some things that would be equally suitable for either.

I never wrapped anything until I was satisfied that there was enough for them both.  And then I carefully apportioned everything out, making sure that each pile had the same amount of presents, that they roughly equated in size, style and price, and then finally wrapped and labelled them.  Weeza and Al never commented on this at all - but when I referred to it a few weeks ago, Weeza said that she and Al had always checked.  They'd gone through all the wrapped gifts in the days before Christmas and counted them out, and they eyed each others' pile of stuff to check we'd been fair.  So, it was just as well I'd taken that trouble, wasn't it?

Even now, I still try to be roughly equal.  And I try to include a present that's fun.  Not necessarily silly, although it could be, but something that you can play with on the day.  It doesn't always work out that way, but I like it to.  And ideally, I like to spoil them a bit, because that makes them know that their mummy loves them.  The Sage knows it already, so I can get away with giving him a rather ugly cracked mug from 1795.  Which he's already taken to show the local history expert, he's so pleased with it.


Dave said...

I'm sure if Rog were here he'd have something to say about a rather ugly cracked mug.

Rog said...

I'm sure he wouldn't be so crass Dave.
I can relate to the present balancing act and confirm it was even more difficult with 5. I used to think it akin to sawing the legs of a table to get it level.
Happy Christmas to Z & Sage and family. And the old mug.

allotmentqueen said...

Yes, I always did that apportioning act with my three. And they always had a new flannel in their stocking! Oh, and quite often a new T-shirt or similar as a present - helps to bulk the number of presents up!

Happy Christmas to you and yours.

Z said...

And stockings were another thing. Again, equality but enough difference to treat them as individuals. Trying to get enough bulk without spending the earth. And after my stepfather died, having my mother's to think about too.

You've got 5 children, Rog? That's great. Lucky you.

Unknown said...

So've we Z. And ELEVEN grandchildren. Cheers, Mike and Ann.

Ms Scarlet said...

Yes... my sister and I always did the comparison check.
Twenty years later and we still do!!!


Z said...

I spend roughly the same on each of them, even now.

I shall be back later to wish you all a merry Christmas, but if you'll be too busy to drop by - Merry Christmas to everyone, and I hope you've all been able to get where you want to be with people you love. And like.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas to you and the Sage, dear Z.

Chairwoman of the bored said...

Z, how I smiled as I imagined you counting out the presents and then checking for approximate sizes. It reminded me of being a child during post-war rationing, on the rare occasions that my mother could acquire a tin of peach slices or pineapple chunks, she would ensure that all children present had exactly the same amount on his or her plate, and two dessert spoons of top-of-the-milk on top. We could think of no finer, nor more exotic, treat.

I hope you and your lovely family gave a wonderful Christmas, and a contented and healthy 2011.

Z said...

That reminds me - when I used to buy a quarter of floral gums, I shared them out so that everyone had the same number of each colour. Because in those days, each colour had a different flavour.

Roses said...

I'm very lucky, I have only the one, which makes sorting the present pile out relatively simple.

This year, I told Boy we would only do a silly something each. That lasted until I went shopping and started seeing things I thought he'd like.

Well, he's my Boy, I can spoil him if I want to.

Christopher said...

I've been following all this with much agonised hindsight. Were we fair? Did we give presents supposedly from the cat and dog and stick insects to ensure a just balance? Have we done lasting damage through unwitting unfairnesses?

Very envious of you with offspring and grandoffspring (is there such a word?) close by. You are so lucky. Mine/ours are hundreds of miles away. The advantages (?) of living abroad are eclipsed by a sense of exile at Christmas.

Happy Christmas, dearest Z.

Z said...

It's a bit late to see the advantages of having only one child, Roses. More than 35 years late, actually.

We gave presents to the dog, but not from the dog, Chris. He was a dog. His idea of a superb present was a dead rabbit that he'd killed and not chewed. However, he will be the subject of tonight's post, thank you.

It's normally the mother's job to ensure that sort of fairness. So dismiss it from your mind, because you will not be blamed. And we are lucky. I am certainly luckier than anyone else I know or have ever heard of. I'm too English to live anywhere else. In fact, I'd hesitate to live anywhere but Norfolk. I think I'm too entrenched.