Christmas when you were a kid?"
The Whirlwind is standing in the kitchen with a fresh baked biscuit in each hand. She is looking at me in a worried sort of way. We have just been discussing the vexed problem of Christmas presents. Her friends at school have clearly been discussing this at length. There is a strict rule about not giving one another presents but that does not stop them talking about such things. I rather suspect that most of them will get far more than she will . This has always been the case and, to date, it has not worried her. I doubt it will worry her now. She has no high expectations.
Her friends however are different. New mobile phones and i-pads, brand name clothing and footwear are apparently high on their lists of demands. These are for girls not yet in their teens. The Whirlwind does not have a mobile phone or an i-pad. Her use of a computer is strictly controlled too. She has some brand name clothing but, as she is not a very big child, it is all hand-me-down clothing from mothers who know she is motherless. They believe she is deprived and in need of clothing in this way. Perhaps she is - but she does not think so.
I explain again to her about the way we would get "best" clothes and maybe a book for Christmas. As her own expectations are no higher the demands of the others still puzzle her.
"But why do the others want so many things?"
We have had this conversation before - last year and the year before. She still wants an answer and I cannot give her one. I know what she would like more than anything else. She would like her mother to be alive and doing "Mum" things with her. I am a poor substitute for that. She has already managed to learn that "things" can never substitute for that either. Being a sensible child she will relish all the time her father can give her over the holiday break but he cannot entirely make up for lack of "Mum" either.
I know that, as usual, they will be away for the Christmas and New Year break her father takes from work. I also know that the young Whirlwind will have fewer "things" but a great deal "more" of what really matters - and she already knows it.