Christmas Eve in Gordon’s Bay (2014-12-24) Photo Gallery 28 DEC 2014

As children we used to open up our presents on Christmas Eve. Or at least, I seem to recall that we did, which is why I continue the tradition with my kids. Last year didn’t go so well, as Jessica was still a little too young, meaning that the whole “Santa ate my cookies and drank my milk off from my plate” routine had her in tears, not to mention the sheer volume of gifts simply overwhelmed her, leading to a tired and grumpy daughter not having the best of Christmas Eves.

However, I’m delighted to report that this year was a spectacular success!

With Chantelle working a late shift, it was up to me to handle the evening, and as such I found myself hitting Pick ‘n Pay on the 24th to gather all the necessary supplies for my finger foods evening.

Of course, this was just plain stupid, and I took forever to get out of there! See?

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Of course, I did eventually make it out, and with Jessica lending a helping hand (at times), I set about preparing all of the food, which pretty much alternated between slicing things, baking things, and arranging things (so, so many sandwiches were made).

Thankfully, during this rather lengthy process the kids were as good as gold, entertaining themselves in the hope that Dad would soon finish up and come over to play with them! Again, see?

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As for the guests, it was a family affair, with Mom, Dad, Ryan, Cheryl, Monty, and Robert all joining us on the night. The kids had magically all had a nap (in fact Jessica remained asleep in the tub chair for at least the first 30 minutes of Mom and Dad’s arrival!), meaning that there was to be no grumpiness from their side on the night.

Eventually all the guests had arrived, the presents sorted and secreted away (without any of the girls, i.e. Jessica, spotting us), and the kids wide awake and bathed, meaning that at last I could break out the food which much to my delight, proved to be a hit. After lots of chatting and nibbling (on the food), Chantelle eventually joined us following her shift at Gordon’s Beach Lodge, and at last, “Operation Father Christmas at the Backdoor” (not the name of a porno) finally kicked into action.

The plan was simple. Mommy and Jessica puts a plate of cookies and a glass of milk outside the back door, whilst Daddy secretly waits alongside the house. When Daddy hears the door close, he silently approaches the door and devours both the cookies and the milk. That is followed by a hard knocking on the door, before sprinting (hah, whom I kidding, a gentle but frantic shuffle) back along the side of the house and in through the front sliding door, just in time to help Ryan distribute Jessica’s presents into her little pink and white playhouse, and the rest under the tree in the lounge. Of course, the knock on the back door elicits a shriek of delight from Jessica, who is then taken outside by Mommy in order to investigate. The investigation takes a super excited Jessica all around the house, desperately scanning for Father Christmas so that she may catch him. A fortuitous plane flying overhead gives us the twinkly lights that we need in order to explain that Father Christmas is already up and away, going on to the next child’s house. At this point, Jessica is prompted to look in her playhouse, where on sight of the bag full of presents, she literally jumps up and down, flapping her arms wildly whilst she shrieks in sheer delight. (Fact. It’s incredibly joyous to behold). Everyone shuffles back into the house, where Jessica then spots all the other presents under the Christmas tree, again completely unable (and rightfully so) to suppress her sheer delight.

Most amazingly of all, this year all of the above did actually play out exactly as planned. Translation… it was awesome!

What followed was a fantastic evening of present unwrapping, laughs of delight, and just a genuinely enjoyable time, which I really, REALLY enjoyed. (Though perhaps not quite as much as Jessica, who was over the moon with her bag full of presents, including Duplo Lego, Frozen dolls, and lots and lots of My Little Pony figurines and playsets!)

In summary, kids make Christmas magical, don’t they? :)

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About Craig Lotter

Software developer, husband and dad to two little girls. Writer behind An Exploring South African. I don't have time for myself any more.