The Best Christmas Present of All by Ali Harris
2013/12/04  |  By:   |  Features  |  

I’m a sucker for old-fashioned values and each year I desperately want Christmas to feel like it does in the classic American movies, or when I was a child.

Like Evie Taylor, my main character in ‘Miracle on Regent Street’ and ‘A Vintage Christmas’, I yearn to come out of shops laden with beautifully wrapped boxes, tipping my felt hat and snuggling my hands into a fur muff as I head off for afternoon tea somewhere lovely (Lily’s Tea Room at Hardy’s, perhaps!) having bought each of my loved-ones some perfectly elegant personalised gift. I scour small shops and antiques emporiums, trying to find the perfect stocking fillers for my two small children. Wooden toys, books, board games, tins of sweets, tangerines, classic Fisher Price toys and a bag of chocolate coins all feature this year.

Each year I immerse myself in classic Christmas movies like ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and ‘Miracle on 34th Street’. I string popcorn and cranberries and marshmallows on the tree with my kids like Eloise in the classic 1950s children’s books and make gingerbread with them whilst listening to Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. Then I get stressed about how much work I have to do and end up staying up all night to make up for indulging my festive fads.

I also find myself spending a lot of my time moaning about how technology has changed our festive future forever. I refuse to internet shop and tell my kids Father Christmas doesn’t deliver gadgets (my four-year-old son has asked for an iPad which he will not be getting). One of my two-year-old daughter’s favourite presents from last year was a vintage 1980s Woolworths Fairground that was mine when I was a child. We have such fun playing with it; each time we do I feel like I’m at once recreating and reliving my childhood Christmases. It’s like I have one foot in the past and one in the present…

The Present. It’s funny that we call it that, isn’t it? Since having kids I’ve become aware just how quickly time passes. I may yearn for bygone days when I spent Christmas Eve peering up at the stars hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa and his reindeer instead of manically running around, prepping and cooking and wrapping and writing, but then I have to remind myself that what I have now, in this moment, in the present is the best gift of all. Being Santa Claus to my kids, celebrating with family and friends, making new memories is what it’s all about. So what if I end up getting their presents online? With the time I saved I may even take them to see that new Disney Christmas film they want to see.

After all, it’ll probably be considered a good old-fashioned classic one day…