Opinion with Matthew Munson: Christmas has come to the Munson household

Paper chain making for Christmas

By the time you read this, Christmas decorations will be up in Casa de Munson; the festive spirit will, it seems, have reached our corner of Thanet. I’m writing this in the early hours of Sunday morning (so early that it’s still dark outside), and reflecting that, when I lived by myself, I never put up any Christmas decorations. There didn’t seem very much point, as it was just me – now, of course, there’s a significant reason why I should.

Bryan loves Christmas; it’s been a significant topic of conversation since Halloween was over. Being stuck in around that time (Covid being what it is) allowed me to get pretty much all the present shopping done, and Bryan saw me doing it – so he was getting very excited very quickly. It’s hard to hide something like that from your 10-year-old when they’re watching everything.

He knows the full story about Santa Claus – a couple of friends told him at school ages ago, sadly, but there’s nothing I can do about that now – but he rather enjoys helping me prepare the typical treats for our neighbours in our block of flats; I suspect (I hope) that this is the sort of thing that he’ll remember for a very long time.

For children who have been adopted or are in foster care, seasons like this can be exceptionally exciting or overwhelming, particularly if they’ve not celebrated them before. Bryan is a fortunate young man; he had two wonderful Christmases with his foster carers, and I’m very fortunate that we are about to share our third Christmas together. I can’t believe how quickly that’s happened; when I was going through the adoption process, I used to reflect on how my life would be different when I had a family of my own, and now he’s here … it’s a privilege to see him thoroughly enjoy the season and settle into family life.

I also try and take Bryan to the theatre during December at least once; this year, we’re going twice. It’s a tradition I set up in the early days, because I wanted him to experience the pleasure of live performances, and he’s really got into it. This weekend, we went to the Theatre Royal to see Morgan and West, a magic / comedy duo who are absolutely brilliant. We’ve seen them before, when Covid wasn’t in our lexicography, and we’re already booked to see them again in February 2022 – it’s safe to say that we are fans.

Their show was only an hour (and we would have happily stayed double that length of time), and both Bryan and I roared with laughter; I have no idea whatsoever how they did their tricks, and I love their humour. To see Bryan laughing hysterically, however, made my day, and they’ll never know how much that meant to me.

I’m also taking him to the panto at the Marlowe in Canterbury next week (oh yes I am), which is another staple tradition that needs to be upheld. I had thought about going on Christmas Eve, but decided to stay a bit closer to home the nearer we got to Christmas. Bryan was a bit confused about pantos the first year he came home, and last year we didn’t get to see any, so I’m intrigued to see how he reacts to one this year – he’s already excited about the fact I promised him a visit to Kaspas after the show. Why do I do these things to myself?

I just heard Bryan stirring in his room, so I suspect that he will soon make an appearance. It’s currently 6.50am as I write this, and he is usually a late sleeper on Sundays, but today will be an exception, I’m sure. Christmas really is a magical time for children; it’s been a real pleasure to see it through Bryan’s eyes over the past three years, as he’s taught me so much about the season – about what it means to him.

Seeing the joy in his face when I was there, front and centre with his grandparents, at a previous year’s school carol concert was beyond words. Having him appear at his bedroom door at 5.30am on Christmas morning last year, when we had been through two gruelling lockdowns at that point, and seeing him smile was more that I could have asked for. He loves Christmas, and what a privilege to be his dad to help make that happen.

1 Comment

  1. I am sure it will be a wonderful magical time this Christmas for you both. Enjoy it and cherish the moments.
    I am still deciding when to start the shopping. I know it has to be done but I contemplate too much over what to get who so it always ends in a last minute dash. I don’t know why I do it this way but it always ends up like this. Am I old Scrooge or just lazy, uhum I cannot decide that either – “Bah Humbug” I say !!

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