So after the careful spreadsheeted planning that was Christmas shopping, I took the Little Lattes to the school fair this morning and came back with a big sack full of tat.
A plastic guitar with attached flashing specs which didn't really work and made a jangling kind of churning sound. A My Little Pony chest of drawers full of hair accessories. Two Santa presents - glitter (quite good if I can pry it out of the Littlest Latte's hands before it goes all over the floor) and a tacky foam pencil case in the shape of an alien.
Why would Santa think we wanted that?
The School Fair consisted of a long table groaning with all the games, dvds, videos and stuffed toys that everyone else was trying to clear out in anticipation of Christmas. These same people were wearily carrying bags full of it home. There was also a room where children could buy their parents secret presents and have them wrapped.
So the Eldest Latte and I climbed the stairs up to this wonderful place, I loaned her a pound and I sat on a landing watching the Littlest Latte play her disgruntled guitar, until eventually the Eldest returned bearing - nothing. "Couldn't think what to buy you," she said. So we went to queue for Santa.
I know this is probably the last year we'll get out of the Eldest Latte as far as Santa is concerned. She has already told Mr Coffee that she thinks Santa is 'a man in a suit' and has kept her Christmas list deliberately spare in the expectation that more presents will come if you don't ask for much. So what we do not need in the queue for Santa is for one of her mates to swan up and tell us that it is Mr B dressed up as Santa, ha ha, because she saw his beard come off. Especially when, once inside the grotto, it is clear that this is not Mr B at all but some other guy, and you can't work out why the child would ruin it for everyone by making up a fake fake Santa.
I think I am just sad because I can't remember a 'wonderment' Santa experience and I think the chance has gone past. I don't even have any pictures, because I really didn't think they were that big a deal. But maybe they were magical to her. My memory of the 'real Santa' involves actually seeing Santa flying across the sky while I waited with everyone else, chatting to the elves. My mum's version of it was an absolute fiasco of a day out with no magic whatsoever.
Who knows what kids remember? It's not up to us to decide. If I could I would erase the memory of this bl**ding pencil case, especially since a bit of it is already falling off.