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For years I have been horribly cynical about the mania the rest of the world has for Christmas. The complaints I had were hardly original: yes, it’s become way too consumerist. I’m not religious so what am I actually celebrating? It’s depressing for people who are on their own (the suicide rates shoot up at this time of year). It’s also tough on couples (so do divorce rates in January). And for many people, the prospect of getting together with family is miserable and stressful, rather than fun and exciting.

But after becoming a mum, all that horrid, mean, Scroogy cynicism (OK, some of it) has gone right out of the window. Because now Christmas allows me to indulge every secretly tacky, consumerist, tinsel-covered bone in my body. I can’t wait to see my son’s face light up when he gets given a big fat stocking on Christmas morning, and tears open his presents. I’ve loved watching him open the advent calendars we have (both old-fashioned cardboard, and iPod app). He saw a fairylight-strung Christmas tree grotto filled with fake reindeer and owls the other day, and, being only 17-months-old and not highly developed in the ‘good taste’ department, looked awestruck with total wonder. Next week I am even planning to go into a Build-A-Bear Workshop to get a cuddly panda for my son (pre-kids the kind of store I gave the same wide berth as I do Kentucky Fried Chicken). I may or may not buy a mini Santa outfit to dress it up in. Speaking of which, yes, I do also plan to dress my son up as an elf on Christmas day. While he is little enough to enjoy the whole twinkly, magical side of it all, I’m certainly not going to spoil it for him.

I’m not saying I embrace every aspect of the festive season. I’m still not crazy about the wastefulness and endless cycle of people giving others presents they don’t want, like or need.
And I definitely draw the line at encouraging anyone to buy the Susan Boyle album as a present this year. I may have come round to Christmas but I haven’t taken complete leave of my senses.

I never bought a microwave oven until I was pregnant. For years I resisted, for, I admit, partly irrational reasons. Leaky radiation frying my brain every time I pinged a ready meal. Soggy vegetables. Baked potatoes with sad, floppy skins. Hotspots that took off the roof of your mouth, next to other spots that were still frozen and raw. The fact that they annihilated all those lovely vitamins (like the radiation worries, now apparently disproven). More than anything, the fact it was yet another unlovely gadget to take up valuable worktop space.

But I finally relented, and boy have I not looked back. While the main oven is obviously the main source for proper nice grub (I’m not a complete food heathen), the microwave is undoubtedly handy when you have a baby. Yes, OK, I’m talking mainly making Ready Brek. But not just that. When your baby is howling his or her head off, a microwave requires one dish, two minutes and a button to defrost some bread, to cook some broccoli or some sweet potato, to heat up yesterdays leftovers, or poach a piece of salmon. It won’t get you on the shortlist for Masterchef. But it might just save your sanity. And as I’m far as I’m concerned, that’s better than an Aga.

Lojapiripiri

The problem with babies is they just keep on growing. And growing. And growing. Not only is this a killer on your back when carrying them around, it’s incredibly inconsiderate as it means you have to keep forking out cash for new clothes all the bloomin’ time. It’s not too bad when they’re born (especially if it’s your first) as chances are you’ll get a fair few wearable presents from friends and relatives: tiny teeny jumpers with teddy ears, cuter-than-cute bodysuits, snuggly ickle hats, that kind of thing. But inevitably as they get bigger, the itty bitty clothes run out and you’re left spending how much for a branded hoodie from Baby Gap? The same or,  possibly more than you would spend on a jumper for yourself. And you have, technically, stopped growing (though if  you carry on with the afternoon KitKat habit, that may be a moot point).

Obviously for cheap stuff there is Ebay. And supermarkets.  But every few months you still have to replenish their entire wardrobe. In the adult world the only people who do that are Cheryl Cole and Victoria Beckham.

If you’re very lucky though, there is an answer to total financial ruin every time your precious little one puts an extra couple of pounds, or goes through a growth spurt. And I have been very lucky in that a couple of sets of very good friends have been kind enough to loan us their hand-me-downs. Not only has this saved us tons of money over the past 18 months, it’s saved us time too (no queuing in Mothercare, losing the will to live), and it’s also made us feel ultra-virtuous as it’s green. Of course, all good things must come to an end, and I can see a point in the not-too-distant future when the hand-me-downs run out (after the age of two or so, different growth rates mean kids start to overlap in size). Which means, oh my gosh, we might have to actually buy some clothes (obviously we have bought the odd thing already, but not a lot).

Normally any excuse to clothes shop, is one to be celebrated, in my book. But when you have a boy, you don’t even particularly get to enjoy the consumerist process as boy clothes tend to be fairly dull – invariably either stripy, or with a dinosaur, monkey or some kind of vehicle printed on the front. It’s going to hurt in more ways than one. Charity shops, here I come.

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This blog is currently dedicated to stuff new mummies like. As opposed to stuff mummies of teenagers like. That's because we don't have teenagers yet. Give us a few years though. We're told it goes pretty quickly...

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