It is that time of year again…Christmas hovers on the horizon and the schools have their Christmas Fairs planned. Once again, I have been ‘volunteered’ to help out. My dependable friend, Lisa, has also been drafted in.
Lisa has no children and I am a grandmother, maybe we seem easy prey! I jest, my eldest daughter is working hard on the activities and games room for the event just as she did last year and has turned to us for support. We give it gladly of course. No strong-armed stuff needed.
Last year, we were not certain what to expect. My days of helping at school events when my own children were young, have long since gone though my time of standing in the school playground, waiting for a child or children to come out of school, has returned, funnily enough. In fact, there are probably more of us grandparents than parents in that playground these days – a sign of the times indeed.
For last year’s Christmas games room, my daughter had devised some popular games but one was more popular than others. This game involved the child trying to drop a penny into a tank of water and land it on the x at the bottom. I was given this game to oversee for a while.
Needless to say, the magnet with which I had to fish out the coins each time was soon mislaid (tiny fingers to blame perhaps?) and after half an hour of dipping my hand into the freezing water to reach the coins, I was in danger of getting frostbite. A desperate search revealed the magnet lying on the floor amongst a sea of paper and while the children pleaded for a ‘go’ I painstakingly attached magnet to stick again with my swollen fingers.
A Christmas tree, packed with numbered lucky dip packages was also under my care. Thus, I was torn between the clamour for the “drop a penny in the tank” and replenishing the Christmas tree when its parcels had all been unwrapped.
I could only be marginally happier to be on this side of the games table than on the other, where harassed parents were dragged by their hapless offspring, from pillar to post. One of the advantages of being a grandparent is that you can turn a blind eye and give the little ones an extra ‘go’ from time to time. This is probably why my fingers turned blue quite early on come to think of it.
Not much has changed since I used to help out at my own children’s Christmas events. In those days, I tended to be manning a stall and quite often, it would be selling things I had made. These ‘things’ included salt dough ornaments, painted wooden spoons and various artefacts and drawings. One year I included a basket of decorated scallop shells. The sea shells were priced at pocket money prices and probably cost more to paint than I sold them for. However, they proved popular. Children loved the little animals I had painted onto the large flat shells and dragged their parents over to buy them at £1 per shell. One little boy stood alone at the side of my stall. He was coveting a scallop shell with a puppy painted on it.
“How much are they?” he asked wistfully. I told him. His face fell and he opened his palm, he had 10 pence left.
Ok, so I am a sucker for a sob story!
“Well, that’s funny because this one is just 10 pence,” I told him and the delight on his little face made the gigantic loss I had just made more than worth it. Off he went to show his mother. His mother showed her friend. The friend rushed across and scooped up ten of the shells.
“10 pence is such a bargain!” she gushed and handed me one pound.
I know I should have put her right, but I was so gob-smacked, I just stood there holding the pound and watched her go. Well, it was Christmas!
I’ll let you know how this year’s Christmas fair goes… My daughter tells me she has some new games in mind this year and I have suggested that cold water does not form any part of them. Watch this space!