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Christmas is coming up fast and this year we have reached new and heady heights of disorganization.

Seriously, it's epic.

Two things we have done though involve trying to focus the children on the traditional values off Christmas: Giving and receiving.

The receiving part is easy, and fun: we went to see Father Christmas today. We weren't going to because, well, queuing up with small children for an hour in a stuffy department store is as much fun as stabbing yourself in the guts with a chainsaw, but it was necessary.

It was made necessary

We went to a community BBQ yesterday and toward the end, in rode Santa on a fire engine. 

I know.

He was funny, and also slightly scary. His costume was pinned together scraps of red fabric and his belly was something liquid which sprung a leak under the physical exertion of his entrance causing him to utter a line no parent wants to hear from Santa ... "Careful little boy, Santa's rather sticky"

When he called us on stage, Alfie wailed and I was left carrying both he and Olive up to get our home made gifts. Esme was only marginally less freaked out in daddy's arms. 

Which makes it all the more surprising that when we got home, the children decided they wanted to see the "real" Santa today.

I stopped short of telling them that the Santa we had just seen was going to be the best that they were ever likely to meet and for reasons they were to young to appreciate and instead agreed that we would face the hell of central Wellington at Christmas.

I'll keep this story short and sweet: The queue was long, the shop was hot, the children freaked. 

Alfie isn't in this photo because he was peering around the door. Yup, he didn't make it into the room.

On the flip side Esme got to ask Santa for "ginnerman", despite the fact she already has a copy of The Gingerbread Man and she is now convinced that she will receive another copy under the tree. So far that's not working out so well; in fact it seems to be something if a rare book in these parts. 

The giving part of this Christmas is a slightly harder sell, but we think a worthy one.

We are asking Alfie and Esme to go through their toys to donate the ones they don't use.

I know, we just shipped this shit half way across the globe, but this is as much about them learning the value off giving as it is streamlining the amount of obnoxious plastic crap those two own.

I won't pretend this is the most popular thing we have ever attempted, but it had been pretty therapeutic for all of us.

In a few weeks we will take the box of toys down to Alfie's school where he and his friends can enjoy the toys together.

Where I don't have to find homes for them.

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