We brought the kids to see Santa Claus this week. With so much talk of presents and gifts, food and drink it’s easy to get lost in the melee that is ‘The Holiday season’ nowadays. When we were small it was just called Christmas, but times change and the diminishing size of the World has changed the simplicity that was once associated with Christmas.
If Santa brought a bell for a bike it was great. If you got an entire bike that was like winning the lotto. Christmas dinner was special because it was the only time of year that you got to eat two types of meat on the same plate, and also the only time of year that you tasted Turkey. Nowadays you could have it in any carvery restaurant a few times per week if you wanted.
It’s really important to get out on your bike over Christmas. Not just to burn off the ten thousand extra calories that you just have to consume, but also to keep your head in balance too.
Cycling is all about balance. If you can’t balance your bike you can’t cycle it. This necessity for balance reflects itself in all manner of things. Your training must be balanced, too many miles and too many efforts without balanced recovery leads to burnout. Your diet must be balanced to get the proper nutrients and the correct fuel into your body. Cycling is also a great way to balance yourself mentally.
There is such a huge expectation on everyone to have such a fantastic time and enjoy every minute of Christmas that it leads to a d’Unbelievables type of Christmas.
Parents and grown ups drink too much, feel wrecked and hungover and end up shouting at kids to :
‘Eat those feckin sprouts that I spent 3 hours peeling last night.’
‘Finish off that Turkey that I took out of the oven 7 times to check was it cooked and it took 4 hours longer than it was supposed to so I’m not having you turning your nose up at it.’
‘Will ye ever shut up and sit down there and be quiet for a while …… and enjoy yerselves’
There is so much expectation and anticipation in the build up that it is never possible to live up to the hype.
That’s why getting out in the fresh air on your bike is so important. It gives that balanced bit of perspective. It relieves the pressure of overindulging and basically it just makes you feel good. Then when you get home you have more energy and patience to play monopoly or playstation, build lego, fit 24 batteries and wash 40 dishes. It improves Christmas for everyone in the house because Christmas spins are all about feeling those two ‘g’s, Great and Guilty. And this is good for everyone.
By feeling Great after a spin you breath fresh live into a stagnating overfed household. By feeling slightly Guilty for heading out on the bike during what is supposed to be family time you overcompensate and everyone else reaps the benefit.
The Santa Claus that we visited this week was not one of the €40 que up for 2 hours, feed reindeers, ride trains, listen to Mrs. Claus tell stories types and we wondered if that was going to be missed this year by choosing the other more basic option. Even though the two girls had asked to go see Santa in Stephens green because of memories of a good experience there a few years ago when he happened to walk into the elevator when we were alone in it and explained to them that he was coming form the roof having fed the reindeers.
A pretty standard vacant shop unit at the top of St Stephens Green shopping centre with a slightly bored elf facebooking her friends and followers on her smartphone sitting at a cash register directing you into a small que beside a white plastic fence was what greeted us on arrival. It would have been exotic 30 years ago but nowadays it was very basic.
The grotto was also basic enough. No fancy knocking on chimneys for a present to be sent down by Rudolf. No mulled wine or mince pies. But then we looked over at Santa, sitting, smiling warmly up at us and as soon as he opened his mouth from behind his real big white beard we knew we had made the right choice.
The genuine North American accent matched the very best of those on Blockbuster Christmas movies. The warm smiling eyes behind the real glasses reflected a genuine warmth that many exotic destination Santas struggle to maintain as the conveyor belt of children pass their way. As Kate said afterwards ‘That wasn’t just another one of Santas Helpers, that was the real Santa himself’. Her eight year old voice also described him best when she said ‘He didn’t just say the usual, Have you been good, What do you want for Christmas, here’s your present, smile for the photo and I’ll see you Christmas Eve but instead he talked to us all about the real meaning of Christmas and being patient and nice to each other and that when me and Laura (her 10 year old sister) are fighting that the first one to stop is the winner…. And his beard was real too !!! ‘
As we left, I turned and before I even realised what I was saying heard myself say ‘Bye Santy’. I think he made a believer of me too.
Life is short and the magical time of Christmas does not last for ever, so be sure to enjoy every bit of it as much as you can, and remember that the key ingredient in managing to do that is to get out there in the fresh air on your bike. If the weather is suitable make time to bring all the family out on their bikes too. That will lead to a house full of smiling faces which at the end of the day is exactly what Christmas is all about.