Trish Takes Five: our weekly column by Trish Burgess

Surprise is still the magic of Christmas.
Surprise is still the magic of Christmas.
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“Dear Santa, Please may I have a virtual paintball game, a Hot Wheels Octoblast and a Ready 2 Rumble boxing game.

“And surprises. I will leave a carrot for Rudolph to eat and a mince pie for you. Love from Rory.”

This is a letter my son wrote when he was about six and shows just how much he was influenced by TV adverts and toy catalogues.

If I remember rightly, Santa brought him a slightly cheaper Hot Wheels set than requested but was a real sucker bringing him the other two, which were played with twice before being consigned to the cupboard. Santa learned his lesson and chose wisely from the wish list in future years.

I know it’s only October and I shouldn’t be talking about Christmas yet but shops are beginning to stock up on festive items so it will be upon us before we know it. It might be worth considering what the must-have toy is likely to be this year and get in quick.

Are loom bands still the in ­thing? Minecraft? Are Furbies back to infuriate parents? I really ought to find out because although my son is now an adult, I have a nephew who will be four on Christmas Day. I think he’s into dinosaurs and Peppa Pig.

I should probably stick to sensible gifts: books, LEGO and toy cars. I’m sure my brother would prefer me not to buy his son anything which requires batteries, virtual feeding or adult help to assemble.

I have a vivid memory of a very long Christmas Eve having to put a Micro Machines truck together: it must have had hundreds of tiny stickers which needed to be in place before it looked presentable.

Did we have crazes when we were younger? Absolutely. We wanted Raleigh Chopper bikes, Action Men and space hoppers. We asked for a Rubik’s cube, even though it was abandoned on Boxing Day.

Thankfully some crazes were cheap, like jacks and marbles, though some were lethal. Remember clackers and how they bruised your hands?

I remember writing my own Christmas lists: colouring pens and stationery, a Sindy doll and, as I grew older, the Jackie annual which I would devour from cover to cover, hardly drawing breath as I read Cathy and Claire’s problem page. I asked for roller skates one year and adored them, two slabs of metal on wheels that I had to strap to my own shoes, causing massive scuffs and cuts in the leather.

My dad once made me a pair of stilts: I can see myself happily clonking up and down the street on Christmas morning like a very small circus entertainer.

I don’t imagine my boy will be writing a list this year: in fact he hasn’t asked for anything in particular for the last few years. But I know something on his list from 2002 that will go down well: ‘surprises’. Some things never change, even when you’re 18.

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