John Lewis say they'll bung 25 quid this way for tip top rules on a perfect family Christmas.
Grit's family is perfect, obviously. One member floats about Hong Kong harbour and three are tied to the radiators, so they've come to the right place.
Unfortunately, I can't think of any rules. This house mixes autonomy, anarchy, and seasonal adjustment disorder in equal measure. The line between them is razorfine, and cross it at your peril.
Quite frankly, it's easier to simply say that John Lewis is a lovely place to shop. OK? They sell lovely things like tinkly things and furry carpets and reindeer and things and more things.
But more importantly, no one who works there has ever thrown me and the gritlets out, probably fighting with themselves over that, but they never gave into that urge, which qualifies as lovely in my book.
Anyway. Christmas rules and traditions. We don't have any.
BUT THEN. I thought, Aha! We DO have rules. And special traditions!
The children must notice what they are. I'll ask them.
Squirrel: When you put up the decorations, do not make trip hazards on the stairs. People might fall down the stairs and go to hospital. Do not throw baubles. Do not climb up the Christmas tree. Do not hit your sister with bits of the Christmas tree. [You can see what issues we have here.] Do not eat all the sweets in one go. Do not electrocute yourself. Do not stab yourself in the eye. [Squirrel? You are rambling. Shut up. Your turn, Tiger.]
Tiger: Daddy must set the pudding on fire. Not his beard. The pudding.
Shark: If I had a grudge against the neighbour, could I put up an inflatable plastic reindeer now and everyday loll it over their wall by accident-on-purpose? [Advanced thinker.]
Be quiet the lot of you. I can think of sensible traditions.
1. Spend days doing craft, but not knitting with our own hair, that is right out.
We do lots of crafts. I am too mean to buy decorations. Holly up the bannisters, make home-made wreaths, dress down the house with toilet rolls and string, and create our own presents*. Except for gifts we buy at the charity shop.**
(OK, John Lewis might not like this rule, for obvious reasons. But every year I tell Shark, Squirrel and Tiger that it is time to help others, and in my book that's not a fat banker in a suit behind a desk who keeps a mistress in Newton le Willows.)
2. Do not mention the inlaws because they are all DEAD DEAD DEAD.
Now you feel guilty, don't you, John Lewis. Make it £30 and we call it quits.
3. On Christmas Eve we party at the Hat's.
Remember? Someone was sick down the back of my leg. But it's important to visit friends. Christmas is such a forgiving time. And this year don't eat all the grapes.
4. We tell the story about baby Jesus.
We may go to a special heaven for non believers who like the idea of virgins giving birth.
5. But say what? You want light entertainment?
This year ladies, we might take you to midnight mass to see all the drunks!
6. For Christmas dinner we eat baked potatoes.
With cheese and baked beans. Seriously! No-one's going to believe that. But it's true. This year I shall photograph it.
7. Christmas Day is a non-computer day.
Mummy Grit and Daddy Dig never turn on the computers. Only in secret. Next year we will all sing songs round the Victorian piano.
8. Mummy Grit mixes cheap gin at noon.
Then she has Daddy Dig see if he can squirt it into her mouth from a used shampoo bottle across the kitchen. By then she is smashed on cooking sherry and already foaming at the mouth, so it makes no difference.
9. Do not, under any circumstances, listen to the Queen's Speech.
If you so much as touch that remote control, you are DEAD. We are not quite at the republican stage in this house but we are coming pretty close. Close enough to want to see the entire lot of them living in a terrace in Manchester and see how they like it.
10. Bring about world peace from the homely fireside.
I am now insensible enough to think that spending entire days footling about with my kids, trying to extract modelling balloons from the U-bend, telling anyone who will listen that life can be imaginative and fun even though it comes with a destroyed house and a beaten spirit, all makes for a good way to raise happy children who appreciate and love their families. (Are you listening to this, Shark, Squirrel and Tiger?) And if there is one rule we have about enjoying each other's company, and not bloody well arguing all the day long, this one's it.
Now, if any reader persevered this far, know that I needed cheering up. And right now, considering the options, prostitution to John Lewis seems fair enough.
And what's with all the This is a sponsored post. What have I got to do now? Run a marathon?
P.S. Squirrel just asked What are you doing on the blog? I answer Trying to get 25 quid out of John Lewis. To which she replies Is it a bribe or a threat?
* Because we are smugbastardhomeeducating types and learning how to make a felt brooch is a way of providing an education round here.
* Because we are smugbastardhomeeducating types and giving to the local hospice shop is a way of providing an education round here.