Chocolates, Santa and disputes

Christmas is a special time of year for more reasons than the obvious. Liv Gardiner shares stories about advent calendars, Santa and off-limits conversations.


When I was about eight, I remember discovering that my four-year-old brother had eaten not only the entirety of his own advent calendar chocolates, but also the contents of both mine and my two sisters. With mouth and face covered in chocolate, he swore on our cat’s life that it wasn’t him. When our parents told him that Santa didn’t come for children who stole or lied, I watched him go white, then red with rage. I will never forget watching my little brother standing in the garden yelling profanities into the sky.

“Rudolph!” he yelled, pointing accusingly at the clouds. “If you don’t make Santa come and give me presents, I won’t leave any carrots out, and you and your deer friends will starve!”

He continued for around half an hour until his little voice gave out, but I do distinctly remember the cry of, “You will regret this Santa! And so will your elves!”


The wonder of Santa was diminished slightly after discovering that when my big sister – then aged 10 – had confronted my parents about his existence they confessed. From that year on she had bussed to the shops, chosen and bought all of ‘Santa’s’ presents for the rest of us younger siblings.


Years later, our Christmas days look a little different. Our home is filled with friends and family from all over, especially those who, like us, don’t practise the strict nuclear family celebration structure I grew up seeing in American movies.

My mother and uncle, despite growing up together and sharing quite similar childhoods, have almost polar opposite belief systems. As such, while my siblings and cousins all get along well, it has proven to be the source of various memorable disputes in the past.

Consequently, my family has taken to placing a whiteboard in the kitchen, on which we write a list of ‘off limits’ topics.

The list grows as the day progresses, as anyone is able to contribute suggestions, should things take a turn. The list last year read:

  • football teams
  • politics
  • climate change
  • gender roles
  • immigration
  • religion or anything God-related.

We all enjoyed extensive discussion about the weather that year.


Does Christmas in your household involve a whiteboard of banned conversations?

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Written by Liv Gardiner


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