Once you become a parent, Sophie White finds that your yuletide priorities shift, and the Santa Threat becomes as crucial as the turkey. Photography by Tony Gavin
The celebration of Christmas really evolves over a lifetime. From getting up at 5am on Christmas morning too excited to sleep, to getting in at 5am after the ‘Twelve Pubs’, too booze-jazzed to sleep. For me, Christmas peaked in 1994 with the delivery, by Santa, of Barbie’s Dream Campervan, and since then, it has never really come close to that sense of magic. Over the course of two decades, the main thrust of the day has gone from being 110pc present-focused, to eventually being 110pc food-focused; even the boozing has abated somewhat, due to the special kind of hell that is parenting while nursing a hangover.
Lately, however, some of that magic of the early 1990s has returned, as, finally, Yer Man, at age three, has a new awareness of Christmas. And sure, it’s beautiful to witness Christmas through the eyes of a child, but I’ve found there is another (even better) unexpected side benefit: The Santa Threat. Himself first deployed the Santa Threat in July, and we’ve been enjoying moderately more reasonable toddler behaviour ever since.
I thought the effectiveness would wane, but now that Christmas basically begins in October, his commitment to pleasing this Santa character has stayed the course. Never again will I dismiss the festive occasions that punctuate the year as commercial nonsense. Now I recognise them for the crucial parenting devices that they are.
The Santa Threat has become such an integral tool in the parenting arsenal that, with Christmas nearly upon us, I understandably began to worry about how I would intimidate my toddler once the spectre of Santa — I’ve opted to paint him as quite a malicious character — was no longer available to me. However, I’m betting the Easter Bunny, to my mind a far more sinister prospect than an overweight man who couldn’t outrun an elf, will be an even more effective disciplinarian, once Christmas is over.
Along with keeping the spawn in line, my favourite thing about Christmas is, of course, eating. The thing is, now that I am outnumbered by my children, I find all food items must be able to be consumed one-handed, or else they won’t make it past my lips.
These six dishes are perfect festive party plates and can easily be eaten with a child in one arm, and some mulled wine in the other!