Berkshire Life - - Columnist -

It’s that time of year again, when you start los­ing your mind, think­ing gi­ant in­flat­able Santas and rein­deer in your front gar­den are cool, mince pies and fruit cake are ac­tu­ally quite tasty and calo­ries don’t count un­til next year.

And for di­vorced sin­gle mums ev­ery­where, the hand wring­ing about what to do with

The Ex and the kids over the Crim­ble sea­son be­gins in earnest.

Fi­nally, af­ter two tense, de­cid­edly joy-free Christmases, The Ex and I seem to have silently ac­knowl­edged that it’s all about the kids, re­ally, and not just an­other chance to air long-held griev­ances while de­plet­ing Berk­shire’s stocks of Coin­treau and Bai­leys in the process. Not that there’s any­thing wrong with that…

But the first Christ­mas we spent as con­sciously un­cou­pled par­ents, we didn’t have the first clue how to play it, so we just kind of bum­bled our way through it – much like our mar­riage, to be hon­est.

Con­sid­er­ing The Ex had moved into a fab­u­lously large flat in a gated com­mu­nity that felt as big as a house and we’d moved to a tiny house up the dodgier end of the vil­lage that felt as big as a skip, we de­cided it would be best to go to his place for the big day.

But Cookie (the one-dog de­mo­li­tion team) wasn’t al­lowed, so I had to leave him at home, chew­ing the baubles and candy canes off our tree – and then the tree it­self.

The kids slept at The Ex’s the night be­fore and even as I drove through the big iron gates, I caught a whiff of Com­pet­i­tive Christ­mass­ing and I knew this day was some­thing to be en­dured rather than, say, en­joyed.

We played board games (which, of course, The Ex won), I ad­mired how well our old enor­mous jumbo cord couch fit into his new front room (he en­thu­si­as­ti­cally agreed), how good our old Per­sian car­pet looked on his new floor (he slightly less than en­thu­si­as­ti­cally agreed) and how well our old cof­fee ta­ble had sur­vived his “I’ll do it my­self and hire a van!” mov­ing day (at which point he just grunted).

And then the present-giv­ing be­gan. I girded my loins and handed over sta­tionery and toys for the kids that I’d got from The Range. They smiled po­litely. The Ex drove a fork-lift truck into the liv­ing room and de­posited as­sorted Xbox and Nin­tendo good­ies into their laps. They could barely con­tain them­selves.

So this year, we’re do­ing away with all that com­pet­i­tive stuff and we’re go­ing to meet on neu­tral ground at a dog-friendly pub that houses none of our old fur­ni­ture, won’t let any heavy-lift­ing ma­chin­ery through the door and does fan­tas­tic fes­tive fare with all the trim­mings.

Which re­minds me of my favourite Christ­mas cracker joke:

What’s Good King Wences­las’ favourite kind of pizza base?

Deep and crisp and even.

Have a great Christ­mas, every­one!

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