Matthew Munson: Christmas is fast approaching

Christmas is approaching Photo Louis McLaren

Oh dear. Christmas is fast approaching. Last year, I had all of my Christmas shopping done by Halloween, as we were in a covid lockdown after Bryan caught it from school. I don’t think I’ve ever been as organised as I was in 2021, and I made a decision that I would keep that up every year since.

I was rather overconfident.

I have done most of my present shopping already, and Bryan has (with the help of his grandparents) purchased some presents for me. He is quite excited about what he’s bought me, and I wish I could bottle that excitement; I’m excited to give him his presents as well, and just enjoy the routines that we’ve established in the last few years.

I’ve decided to keep it simple this year, and just savour the local experiences that are coming up in Thanet; Christmas markets (Bryan needs to get his nan and granddad something nice, after all), a Christmas carol concert, a panto, and just enjoying our local area. We’ve noticed a couple of Christmas trees up in our area already (there’s a house in our neighbourhood that always starts early, and I find myself looking at this time of year for when it’s going up – I’m rather obsessed), and both Bryan and I are on Christmas tree watch – how many do we see every week going up, and especially how many in November?

As soon as Halloween finishes, Christmas is hot on its tail; one supermarket was even putting up its Christmas display the weekend before Halloween, which looked rather incongruous alongside skull masks and witches’ hats. Even I feel vaguely guilty writing about Christmas so early, but the idea came to me as I was on hold to Southern Water (we’re having some water issues as I write this); I am currently on hold to their call centre, and they’re playing endless Christmas music on a loop. Ho ho flipping ho.

The main thing I enjoy about the season is that I get to help make it magical for Bryan and just enjoy some time together. Seeing it through a child’s eyes is always wonderful, and it’s a pleasure to be a dad and do that kind of thing for my son.

I took Bryan up to the cinema today (we saw the new Black Panther film – very good), and it struck me how many more things there are to do in the area compared to my childhood. Westwood Cross, of course, didn’t exist back then; I can remember the old Co-Op Hypermarket that was there before Tesco. My paternal grandparents lived very close to what is now Westwood Cross (although they both passed away before it was built, and I miss them far more than I would miss a shopping centre), and the local shops were my nan’s go-to places.

I have a certain nostalgic fondness for that time, although I don’t stand in the way of Westwood Cross either – the shops are handy, and the recliner chairs at the Vue are a wonder. It’s a small thing, but I love lying back and watching a film in a recliner chair; I’m clearly easily pleased. Bryan and I were in awe the first time we encountered them, and it dominated our conversation for longer than I’d really like to admit on the way home.

Someone reminded me the other day that it was only two Christmases ago that talk of lockdowns was everywhere (I think we were still in some sort of lockdown round here, weren’t we? Oh how quickly we forget). It had been pushed far back in my mind, I suspect because it wasn’t really something any of us like to remember. But being at home for all that time changed my view of certain things; it helped me to find more opportunities in the little moments, to help Bryan and I get through every day, and that love and friendship was everywhere if we knew where to look. I am very thankful for that, two years on, and that’s why I’m looking forward to having a chilled, relaxed December (I hope) with my son. Perfect.