By Lee Scanlon*
Dear Eve and Jack,
Not long now before Santa comes! Grandad and Nana can't wait to see you. Nana has almost finished spring cleaning the house, which Grandad says is a waste of time because she will have to do it again when you leave.
Thank you for your Santa wish list, Eve. Twenty-one present ideas was very helpful. Your mum kindly texted to say the motto for this Christmas is "minimalism". Nana thinks she was just using a big word nobody understands.
Jack, please thank your mum for her email. Nana is sorry you don't have a tree and decorations this year, just because the movers are arriving to pack up your stuff for Wellington.
It was nice of your mum to let Nana know you're expecting Grandad and Nana to turn their house into a Christmas grotto. No pressure. Nana has taken days to untangle the tinsel from the Christmas grotto Eve made in the wardrobe last year.
Grandad put up the Christmas lights last weekend (a few times because they kept falling down) and Nana has bought solar lights to replace the ones your dads smashed playing backyard cricket last year. The lights look awesome when it's dark. You'll have to imagine that though, because it's well past your bed time.
You will both be pleased to know Grandad has also put new batteries in all those musical toys you love to play over and over again. They're just as loud as last year. Tell your mums and dads.
Nana is stocking up on things you like to eat, like shortbread and cherries and chocolate. Please do not eat them for breakfast as your fathers did when they were little. You may like to ask them what happened afterwards. If they don't remember, the people who were sitting in front of them at Mass will.
Talking of food, please do not complain, as Uncle Troy once did: "I hate ham, can't we just have fish and chips?" The fish and chip shop won't be open until the day after Christmas.
Grandad and Nana hope you remember to say thank you and smile when you open your presents, even if Santa got it wrong. Do not wail like Great Uncle Gary: "Clothes, clothes and more bloody clothes!". Do not exclaim, as Uncle Troy did when Great Aunty Shirley bought him a watch: "Oh, another one."
Do not follow Great Aunty Shirley's example either. It really isn't polite to ask: "Where did this come from?" because everyone in our family knows it means: "Where can I take it back to?"
Hopefully Nana will not behave like Great Aunty Shirley and leave the price tags on all your presents.
If Santa brings you a present in pieces, ask Grandad to put them together. Grandad had plenty of practice in the old days. One year, Grandad assembled Uncle Troy's new bike. Unfortunately, Grandad forgot about the screw that kept the handlebars on. You can ask Uncle Troy what happened next.
Another year, Great Nana Mary gave your dads a big red robot in lots of little bits. It looked like a giant transformer. Grandad spent all Christmas Day building it, so your dads could find out what it did. It did nothing. Jack, do not ask your dad to assemble anything. Nana and Aunty Casey still have sore sides from watching him try to put together a chest of drawers for you. Does the bottom drawer close yet?
Do try to remember to wish your dads a happy birthday on Christmas Day. Some people forget, (let's not mention Grandad), which will make your dads complain like they always do about Nana's bad timing. Jesus! He never whined about being born at Christmas.
Neither of you need worry that Santa will go to Wellington or Christchurch by mistake. Grandad and Nana have emailed to tell him you'll be in Westport for Christmas. He's emailed back to say he's found it on Google Maps.
Santa also asked Grandad and Nana to tell you a secret. Westport's a long way for reindeer to fly, so he won't arrive until early Christmas morning. He will not come to Grandad's and Nana's house if anyone's awake. If he sees either of you up before 6am - NOT ONE PRESENT! See you soon.
Lots of love, Nana.
Lee Scanlon is the owner and editor of the Westport News, where this piece first appeared.