After lots of debate, we’ve decided to fly back to home shores to spend Christmas with family - and so comes the biggest debate of all; how are we going to fit all the presents in two suitcases to fly them to the festivities and, more pressingly, how will we get a whole new set back to Dubai in January?
I think these kind of dilemmas should be taught in mathematics lessons at school, as learning how to cram stocking fillers and presents into a suitcase is surely more useful than algebra?
After informing the family we would be joining them, the inevitable questions came about what the boys would like as gifts – and without wanting to sound ungrateful, my answer is always the same; something small, light and thin. Unfortunately, the message doesn’t always sink in.
Take last year, for example, when we flew to family for just a few days. Walking into my sister-in-law’s lounge and clocking the presents under the tree on the big morning, my husband and I joked that the three humungous gifts sitting right at the back would be for us. Ha ha, we chuckled, that would be funny!
They were for us. All three of them. And it wasn’t funny. My son had a toddler-sized play garage, complete with 10 toy cars to whizz around it. I had a giant framed picture of the city where we used to live, complete with glass frontage, And my husband had this huge tool storage thing, complete with a set of 20 handy tools (or not handy, if you live thousands of miles away from where they are now sat in storage). We mustn’t be ungrateful, as these were lovely and quite extravagant presents, but trying to explain to a two-year old why he couldn’t take his garage onto the flight as hand luggage isn’t a conversation I want to repeat any time soon.
In hindsight, it turns out we probably should have let him take the garage on board, as he may have sat still for more than five minutes. We only had one child at the time, with his baby brother still safely out of trouble in my ever-growing and uncomfortable tummy and therefore unable to call the air-stewards a grand total of 23 times throughout the flight while playing with the armrest.
With our next journey just weeks away, I am already wondering how I can entertain two trouble makers for seven hours straight, especially when the oldest is bursting with excitement about seeing reindeers and their sleigh on the runway when we come into landing (I haven’t quite got round to bursting that bubble yet, I am hoping we will be pleasantly surprised when we look out of the window).
Of course, there is always the iPad to keep the toddler entertained on the flight, but seeing as his younger brother now launches himself at it whenever it’s in eyeshot, without an iota of care for his own wellbeing or that of the iPad. I can imagine this will pose a whole new set of problems.
I’ve thought of something else to worry about too, as the weather will be around freezing point where we are heading. Do I buy the boys a whole new set of clothes for a few short weeks? Or do I beg and borrow from friends, leaving my children looking like I’ve dressed them for a bad taste party in the Arctic Circle?
Last year, I plumped for the latter and my toddler attracted some interested looks as he paid a visit to Santa’s Grotto in a pink jacket, slightly-too-short jeans, and pair of wellington boots covered in dinosaurs. He was delighted by his footwear, naturally, but my husband wasn’t quite as enthralled by the overall look and walked a few steps ahead of us whenever we left the house.
Being from Dubai, of course, the children will be shocked by these sub-zero temperatures and I am prepared for the inevitable battles over getting them to wear wooly hats and gloves. Most people save the chocolate money supplies for Christmas morning, but I will be armed with this delicious currency throughout our trip to bribe them into items of warm clothing.
The thing that makes it all worthwhile is seeing much-missed friends and family – and I will keep this thought firmly in my mind in the lead-up to our flight. But I will also be keeping fingers crossed that there will be no toolboxes under the tree, no iPad-inflicted injuries on the flight, and no meltdowns over wearing a pair of pink mittens. And if someone could arrange for reindeers to be waiting for us at the airport, that would be very helpful indeed. Wish me luck!