Ah crap, I've just realised it's Christmas. Again, writes Mark Hotton in And Baby Makes Four.
Regular readers might recall my opposition to the annual gift-fest that arrives on December 25. Working in retail killed any festive spirit I once had - to me it's simply capitalist greed preying on gross consumerism.
But no more. No longer can I be the Christmas Grinch, because I want Zach and Piper to enjoy the festive season in the same way I did as a little nipper. That excited feeling waking up on Christmas Day, hoping that I'd been good enough throughout the year to ensure Mr Claus would have come down the chimney and left something, anything, in the pillowcase so carefully hung out on Christmas Eve.
There were plenty of clues to show that Santa came each year too - he always messed up the hearthplace, one year he left a big sooty boot print on the hearth and another time there was a tuft of his beard stuck in the brickwork. Plus, of course, there were the crumbs from the biscuits left out and the empty glass.
I can still remember the feeling of the carpet through my shorty pyjamas and that feeling as you dove into the sack.
Apparently, my brother and I used to get up, sneak down to the lounge to see whether he'd been, and then wait until mum and dad were up before touching anything.
Ah yes, they were good times. So much fun to be had.
So now it's my turn to ensure my youngsters have those same memories. And I'm up for the challenge.
Grandma has been teaching Zach about Santa - obviously 3-week-old Piper is oblivious to who anyone is, except mum - so he recognises the old guy in the red suit. And he has mastered "ho, ho ho" in an extremely cute way.
Whether he has worked out that Santa will bring him presents, I doubt. I think that'll happen next year.
But Zach certainly knows who he is. The Santa Parade was held the day after Piper was born and I made a point of taking Zach, in the hope a little Christmas spirit rolled my way. All went well until the few minutes just before it started . . . and he fell asleep. And managed to stay asleep though two pipe bands, a brass band, a fire engine siren, some racy motorbikes and a traction engine.
Luckily we managed to jump through to Kelvin St and watch the tail-end of it again - so he did get to see Santa, who waved at him.
I'll be honest, I got a little emotional watching my son's face light up in intense joy, while saying "Santa" with more than a hint of amazement. I got - and still do - get a kick out of his pure innocence.
Zach knows nothing of the big bad world; all he knows is that a big friendly man in a red suit will fly all over the world bringing presents to good children. And the world is a better place for that.
So this year the door of the Yunca fire will be left open to make it easier for Santa to get down, and some homemade cookies will be left out along with a beer.
Because bugger the idea that milk is more appropriate - that man deserves a beer.
» Mark Hotton is a journalist, amateur chicken fancier and on the adventure of being a dad of two.
- The Southland Times