Watching your children open their Christmas presents, shin-deep in wrapping paper, is the parenting equivalent of a lap of honour after winning the 100m Olympic title.
The front door is closed, the drawbridge is up and it’s just you and yours swapping gifts. Magic.
The actual stuff you’ve bought is almost irrelevant (cliché alert) it really is the thought that counts.
A few days earlier daughters #1 and #2 were struck by the realisation that they hadn’t bought each other a present.
Like most children they are happy to spend our money with the carefree abandon of a Russian oligarch playing real-life Monopoly in London. But when it comes to shelling out their own cash, well that’s a different story.
So guess what? They made each other a present, with their own hands and imagination. A banner with daughter #1’s name and a paper box with eight compartments full of sweeties for daughter #2.
Christmas is the catalyst for strange behaviour. You find yourself doing things you wouldn’t normally do – and often while wearing a paper crown.
One night we sat around the kitchen table as a family and played Scrabble while listening to Abbey Road by The Beatles. I know, it sounds like something off an IKEA advert. It was so out of character I wondered if I’d wandered into the wrong house.
During the game daughter #2 invented a new word which sounded so plausible she nearly got away with it. And the word was SQUIEEP (with a silent P). When questioned she said: “It’s the sound a mouse makes when you tickle it”.
Course it is, dearie.
But we had a very musical Christmas. Daughter #1 was impressed with her earphones, daughter #2 has three-hour practice sessions on her keyboard and yours truly managed to snap a string on his new left-handed electric guitar on Christmas Day.
Can’t play a note yet but it looks cool on its stand. All I need now is a sports car and a 20-year-old secretary to have an affair with and my mid-life crisis can officially begin.