Christmas – All in the Planning

The Papa Gorilla talks books, body parts and bronze turkeys in the run-up to a chilled-out Christmas with the Troop

Column by The Papa Gorilla (guesting for Lara Protheroe)

Christmas has already started with Gorilla Boy. His glee when we erected our magnificent Fraser Fir tree (freshly retrieved from its aestivation in the garage) was a sight to behold. He’s been enjoying it ever since, running into the sitting room each morning and beeping at it till we switch on the integrated lights, so it’s good we got it up at the start of November in order to feel the benefit. I know, I know, but we’re not complete savages – we did wait till December to actually start loading it up with tinsel, baubles and the 101 hand-crafted ornaments that Frankie and The Lamb has progressively produced over the last few years.

There’s little I love more than to crank up the Christmas tunes, pour a glass of something festive and set about unboxing the Christmas decorations and revisiting the collection.  We add to it in some small way each year, and the various smiles that greet each ornament signify anything from “oh hello my Proustian madeleine, with all your deeply embedded festive nostalgia” to “I really should tattoo my Christmas prep list onto my forearm, and the visit to Home Sense must come before the trip to the pub.”

I started Christmas preparations well in advance and am absolutely thrilled with the gifts that I’ve got lined up for my beloved. The apple of my eye deserves only the very best, and I have invested in some top quality new body parts so that she can look really tip-top come the spring.

It’s not that she isn’t a beauty already, but when it comes to customising motorcycles it can be hard to know when to stop. I’ve already blacked out much of the metalwork and crowned her with a mouth-watering set of 14” Burleigh Highball ape-hangers.  Next job – my Christmas gift to this darling machine – is to tidy up her front end with a new radiator cover and an airbox cover with integrated clocks, both from No Limit Custom. This is of course an opportunity for a new paint job as well, and I’m toying with the idea of a Hot Rod flamed tank. More of that anon, no doubt.

It’s hard to know what to buy for Gorilla Boy. We are trying hard to make sure he has nice things and never lacks stimulus and entertainment, but also that he isn’t surrounded by a sea of throwaway crap nor inundated with a surfeit of material bounty. I dread the idea that he could ever come to see Christmas or birthday presents as a humdrum birthright – exhilarating in the moments of unwrapping but equally swiftly set aside whilst he seeks the next high from another set of popping ribbons and tearing paper.

I am thrilled that Gorilla Boy appears to share my great love of books. Both as a boy and adolescent I was an unstoppably voracious reader.  He may not quite be up to reading yet, but he sure does love looking at his books and has already developed pride of ownership – Granny Gorilla and The Silverback bought him a full box set of Thomas the Tank Engine stories and he coos over them proudly, arranging and rearranging them in rows before selecting one (always the same one, for the time being) to proffer in my direction with a look of earnest pleading.

I wanted to get some books for Gorilla Boy this Christmas that could be just for me and him to cosy up with and get lost in together and I have found some great options on Wordery: Gorilla books, night-time books to help daddy do bedtime and a bilingual book in English and Italian to help us progress with operation bilingual baby:

Mamma Gorilla (aka Frankie and The Lamb) is normally easy to buy for, and this year has been no exception.  I had my name down in advance for a limited edition Moomin “True to Its Origins” teapot (by Arabia) and it is a real beauty.

Gorilla Boy is pre-verbal so it’ll be hard to know what exactly he understands of Christmas, but he is almost two and will no doubt pick up on the festive atmosphere. He will certainly notice the massive present wrapped up in his bedroom when he wakes up on Christmas morning – Mamma Gorilla has lovingly built and painted a play kitchen for him and other family members are gifting a variety of wooden play food to go in it. It’ll be a couple of years before I let him loose on the turkey and spuds in the real oven, but I’m keen for him to get his practice in ASAP.

Great-Grandfather Gorilla was a sailor in the Royal Canadian Navy and passed down a great many skills to The Silverback, not least in the sewing and cooking departments; and The Papa Gorilla was always raised with a dad who did his fair share both in the kitchen and behind the ironing board.  Happy though we are for Gorilla Boy to play with tractors and trains, teddies and pterodactyls, we also want him to play at cooking and cleaning and doing all the things that mummy and daddy take it in turns to do – though his love affair with our new cordless hoover may mean that we can sign that duty over to him sooner rather than later!

Last weekend I wheeled out the Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special for the first of what will be many viewings over the coming weeks. This will be the tenth Christmas since it first aired, and it has only improved with age.  The soundtrack is packed with the best of the Christmas classics and Mick’s love affair with his Norfolk Kelly Bronze provides a suitable backdrop to my own culinary preparations – with stuffings and side dishes already underway and filling the freezer, and a Pembrokeshire Bronze turkey crown on order. Turkey pick-up on the 23rd, vegetable prep on the 24th and St Nick’s your uncle… the 25th should be a breeze….

Granny Gorilla and The Silverback will be round at our place to share in the festive fun and delight in Gorilla Boy’s antics. There will be gifts and gluttony galore, but we gorillas know that the troop is at the heart of any celebration, and our greatest joy comes from time and traditions shared together.

The Papa Gorilla wishes you and yours a happy, hearty, healthy and blessed Christmas. riddle_stop 2



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