Matthew Munson: Christmas is sneaking up on us again

Matthew and Bryan

Pinch, punch, and all that gubbins. We’re now at the time of year where we can say, “I can’t believe Christmas is this month!” It’s a surprise that seems to jump out at us every single year and somehow catch us off guard, the sneaky little calendar.

I’ve been hoping I can hold off putting up the Christmas decorations at home for another week or so, but Bryan has convinced me otherwise; our decorations will be up by the time you read these, and I accept that with good grace. Bryan loves Christmas (at least 70% for the presents, I suspect), but the decorations are just as much a part of the season, and it would be churlish of me to say “no” when it helps my son enjoy the season.

I was talking to a friend this week about the pandemic, and for a moment, we struggled to believe that it was only two years ago that a Lockdown Christmas was on the cards. In a way, that period feels so much like it was a life-time ago, at least to me. Perhaps it’s because life was put on hold for so long, and for some, the effects are still being felt. The lockdowns were often stressful and scary, and I know I sure as hell felt lonely at various points during it, but there were moments where I got to engage with my son without the day-to-day routine keeping us on the treadmill. I suspect he was probably bored of me by the end (if you had seen the speed with which he had run through the school gates when they reopened, you’d agree), but I found moments of genuine joy in the slow pace my son and I were fortunate enough to savour.

I’ve gone off at a tangent there – not for the first time – but this month is a nice one for me. I’m keeping weekends as chilled and calm as I can, just enjoying the local area and some of the activities that are going on (most of which, it has to be said, I get from The Isle of Thanet News itself), whether that’s a Christmas lights switch-on, a carol concert, or a fun, child-friendly activity. I like the simple life, and I wanted to give Bryan those simple experiences as well; they are genuine moments we can spend together, and he might occasionally get an ice cream out of it … it’s a win-win.

I managed to hurt my foot a few weeks ago and, in true male fashion, ignored it for a few weeks before finally seeking some advice. In my defence, it wasn’t major – my foot wasn’t hanging off by a thread or anything – but the heel was sore and needed looking at. After several abortive attempts to get an appointment at my GP surgery, I went along – following some advice – to a local pharmacy and got some advice. The pharmacist was brilliant, and I was surprised to find that he was a good ten or more years younger than me. That shouldn’t have been possible, I reasoned to myself, as in my head, I am about seventeen or eighteen years old. But then I remembered that I am, in fact, 41, so a pharmacist who was ten years younger than me was entirely possible, and I needed to respect his expertise and get over myself. I wasn’t bothered by it, merely curious to work out how, in my head at least, someone ten years younger was old enough to do anything other than go to school – but given that I have been legally an adult for the past 23 years, that soon puts me in my place.

I catch myself talking to Bryan sometimes about things that happened when I was young, and he looks at me like I’m mad, because I occasionally talk about them as if they happened a couple of years ago. I even once speculated aloud how I’d managed to pack in so many different jobs through my clearly short life, and Bryan piped up, “You are middle aged now, Dad.” There’s nothing quite like talking to a child to bring you back down to life again.


  1. Well, Christmas occurs on 25th December every year, and has for centuries.
    You might struggle a bit with Easter, which is a moveable feast.

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