Christmas often leaves me feeling morally if not financially bankrupt. I

Christmas often leaves me feeling morally if not financially bankrupt. It’s a season where I confront the fact that I have no real scruples than can stand up to the gusts of a seven year old’s barrage of thinly veiled desire. Yes. I bought and wrapped and gifted a blonde Barbie in her porno pink vet clinic suit (seriously – how many vets do you know that dress in pink mini skirts with white French maid aprons) and I struggle with the justification I gave myself which was: at least this Barbie has a job and is not swanning around being a fake princess. Ba humbug. She, (the seven year old, not the Barbie) loves her and her Polly Pick Parent’s Pocket and Little Pet Shop thingys which divested me of serious cash for small pieces of loseable plastic. She spends all day brushing Barbie’s hair and changing Polly’s clothes and choosing flooring and wallpaper options for their imaginary home together. I wonder why I bothered marching to ‘reclaim the night’ or joining the women’s electoral lobby at age 19 when I could have just dressed as Barbie and made a whole lot more cash. I point out that Barbie will lose her job in the vet clinic if she spends all day brushing her own hair and painting the toe nails of the pets but it is to no avail. Barbie and Polly are not universally loved for their usefulness to society. The holiday season is also a time when I’ve slowed down for at least long enough to be less of a human doing and more of a human being and realise that this small person, absorbed as she is in painting the toenails of small plastic animals is really pretty cool. In the slower holiday moments when I am not shouting at her for some minor misdemeanour or she is not hiding my hairbrush as revenge for some act of authority I have visited upon her I feel privileged that I’ve had her for those seven years and look forward to all the mayhem and wonder that she will undoubtedly wield in my life. This past year seems to have been an incredibly stressful one for many – if the economy were a hairline it would not be merely in recession - it would just be bald, and inevitably that takes its toll on those in shaky jobs or even shakier small businesses and can easily sap the energy it takes to be a good parent. Christmas also seems to be the season of guilt where you get to slow down enough to reflect that perhaps you’re unlikely to win any Mum of the year prizes and that there are too many books left unread and scrapbooks left undone. It’s as I’m thinking over the past year and wishing for things in the new one, that I’m brought back to reality by a phone call. A close friend rings from the intensive care ward in Christchurch. Her perfect beautiful three year old has spent the last 3 days in a coma and has a suspected brain tumour. He still hasn’t unwrapped his presents from Santa. He was climbing a rock one minute and being rushed to hospital the next. None of this makes sense. She’s angry. Another friend tells her she’s praying for her. She says not to bother because if there is someone in charge of all of this they don’t need praying to - they need a bloody good hiding. Nothing like a good atheist to tell it as they see it. I’m devastated for her and crossing every toe and finger that her boy is going to come round and it will be all alright. I also realise that the recession is bollocks. Worrying about giving in to a Barbie fetish is bollocks. Wishing for anything other than good health is bollocks and every thing else is a bonus whatever way you look at it. Even the bad rainy boring days with a healthy kid in the school holidays are looking pretty bloody marvellous.

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