Matthew Munson: The final countdown to Christmas

Matthew and Bryan

And so the final countdown to Christmas begins. I have received a daily countdown to the big day for the last week (it could be longer – I’ve lost track), and now school is out. I’m looking forward to the next two weeks, as I get to spend some real quality time with my son. I have a small amount of work to do, but that’s limited to a couple of days; the rest of the time, we’re going to make it count.

We’re going to make our annual trip to the panto over at the Marlowe this week. Well, I say “annual”, but Covid rather got in the way of that during the early phases of our relationship, so it’s a tradition two years in the making. We’re actually in the front row this year, which I could have happily done without, but Bryan wanted the experience, so it would have been somewhat churlish of me to say no.

I was involved in a project this week where Santa came to meet some children I work with, but with his sleigh being in for its MOT, a local aviation company stepped in and supplied our red-suited friend with a helicopter ride for the trip down from the North Pole. I was on photographic duty, but it was cold; I struggled to keep my hands from shaking, but we got to bring Santa down to Kent for a little while. I have never been so glad to stop filming, however, and put my hands firmly back inside my coat pockets; I couldn’t even wave Santa goodbye at the end of his visit. Roll on summer. Bryan told me off when I said that the other day, I suspect summer is banned from coming until presents have been opened.

We’re trying something new this week, Bryan and I; there is a shop in Ramsgate called Board at Home, and we came across them at Ellington Park’s Christmas Fayre the other weekend. They have a basement room where you can pay to try out and play lots of different board games, for as long as you want. As soon as we made this momentous discovery, Bryan and I decided to try it out. After a morning doctor’s appointment, we’re dashing straight down there to spend a couple of hours browsing and having a good play. Neither of us are into games consoles, and we both like a bit of Monopoly and Risk, so I’m rather looking forward to spreading my horizons a little bit with some new games.

Does anyone still do photo albums? My parents do; they have a lot of memories from my own childhood and even from before I was born. I had great intentions to do the same when I became a father, but time does have a tendency to get in the way. I use Google Drive to store a load of photos that I cherish, so I got myself organised and had some printed out recently to put up as a montage in Bryan’s bedroom. He was rather happy, and I found some of my own grandparents, none of whom sadly are still alive, so it was brilliant to be able to see them again. I have a lot of very fond memories of the three grandparents I knew (one passed away before I was born), and I cherished their love and attention. I always wish I had known them into my own adulthood, but I am most certainly a better person for having had them in my life; I know Bryan will be the same because of the relationship he has with his grandparents.

I’m writing this on Saturday, as Bryan is going to his last dance lesson of the year, and tomorrow (the day you’re reading this), we’re doing a chocolate hunt with our neighbours and going down into Broadstairs to get some fresh air (as long as the weather stays dry – if not, we’re staying inside and watching a film). I am not a natural dancer, which you would well believe if you saw me walking along the street, and I am in awe of anyone who has that fluidity of movement which I lack.

Masque Theatre School, where Bryan dances, is run by some old friends of mine, and it is genuinely a fabulous place; I’m not saying that because it’s run by some friends of mine, but because it’s true. It’s fun to watch the energy in a dance school, especially as someone who doesn’t share that kind of energy or inclination, and I sit happily in a corner whilst everything goes on around me.

I’m sure I’ll be writing something next week, so enjoy your week leading up to this festive season.


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