Things to tell small children at Christmas: part 1

Santa doesn’t come to you if your name is Ian.

Uncle Trevor drinks and starts yelling at your Mum about how “Dad gave you the bloody house and what did I get? Nothing, and I have to live in bloody Sunbury” because you laughed too loudly this morning.

All presents must be returned one week before you go back to school.

Some fun Victorian games so we can all get together and not veg in front of the television, blah, blah, blah

Deaf Man’s Timepiece

Eight adults are required for this game and paper in two colours, white and yellow. The white paper is torn into quarterly strips and the yellow paper square-wise. Write the name of your closest cousin other than your first cousin on a yellow square, and on the white strip the number minus two of all the adults here, but adding one if there is an odd number. Players then divide into three teams if divisible by such, or three and a fourth wild card who has a special right to say “go swatch” on every banking round (see below).

Each team has 40 gaming chips in four colours — you will need gaming chips — of values 1, 5, 10 and 50 (10 of each). Using the rules of auction bridge — but not whist! — each team must make an offer to have the right to ask questions in the quiz — there is a quiz — on the Relief of Mafeking, in the original version, though this can be adapted.

The quiz then sets which place the team will sit in “the train”, which is composed of four “carriages” of seats, with two blanks facing each other, of course, or three if the wild card team has one person, but not two. Here the advanced rules can be used, which are on pages 78-104. From there, of course, it should be obvious: the object is to fill the carriage by a series of auctions of the factorial of the numbers in relation to cousinate relations that are approximated to true by a series of factored guesses. From there it’s a simple matter of applying the rules of Blindman’s Knock, Natty Bumpo and Chizzers (see index) to arrive at a result. Most games end in a draw.

Estimated duration: eight minutes.

Find The Iron

Hide an iron, and find it. Good god, we run an empire. Do I have to explain everything? Estimated duration: 29 hours

Find The Shoehorn

A variant on find the iron.

Chinese Roulette

Players write down the name of another player without showing it to anyone. They then answer a series of questions on worst traits — “worst bad habit”, “greatest failing”, etc — about the person they have chosen (without revealing who that person is). At the end, each person then guesses who the other was answering about. This is a real game and is great fun, and it’s handy to have a phone ready to dial 000, because it can quickly get out of hand.

Estimated duration: until someone goes to casualty or jail or both.

Thumbless Gypsy’s Pigeon Mazurka

Hide an iron and find it.

Things to tell children at Christmas: part 2

A dog is for life, not just for Christmas. The one we got you from the pound has cancer and won’t see March. What would you like to call it, for the moment?

Turkey? This isn’t turkey, it’s reindeer.

We won’t be watching Frozen after lunch. Instead, this year’s Christmas film is The Tree of Wooden Clogs, the classic Italian late neorealist study of peasant life during starvation. Use the toy-toy now, there’s no interval.

The most appalling/pathetic thing I did this week

Readers at a loss for something to do other than watch Star Wars/The Great Escape/The Human Centipede again are invited to rank, in order, the most appalling thing I did this week. The nominations are:

  • Eating a half-finished pizza — intact slices only! — someone had left on the table at the Gunnedah Hotel so I could buy another schooner without having to go to the ATM.
  • Agreed with a farmer that “of course the Greens are all communists” in order to keep a conversation going.
  • Seated by the NSW TrainLink Nazis (“Everyone take their assigned seats! No exceptions!”) next to a young, blonde, six-foot buxom German girl coming down from some farm job to Sydney for a few days, who was immersed in thundering industrial music from her Dr Dre headphones, I would occasionally glance in a line 45 degrees across the line of her vision directly ahead and mumble something interesting from the newspaper I was reading, and to which she, nodding along to “Einzeswhatsit Neubatonthingy”, would appear to be assenting to, without realising I was saying anything at all, or indeed existed, so people coming down the carriage aisle would think we were a couple.
  • Going back for the crusts at the Gunnedah Hotel.

Things to tell children at Christmas: part 3

Yes, kids, Lionel’s coming again this year. His wife’s “in New Zealand”. Yes, she’s been in New Zealand a long time. Why don’t you ask Lionel about what his wife’s doing in New Zealand, and where she’s been? I bet he has hours of stories.

Funny story. Your Mummy and Daddy were the very last people in their friendship group to get together! I guess they just so obviously knew they were meant to be together they felt they could wait till everyone else paired off.

What grade are you in? Grade four? Pro-tip kid, if you don’t know coding and Mandarin by grade six, you better investigate selling your kidney on the Indian market, because we spent all the moneys on coffee. Merry christmas!

Christmas traditions

Boxing Day. Boxing Day is traditionally the day on which people discuss the origin of the phrase “Boxing Day”.

The Yule Log. The yule log is typically left by a guest on the 26th or 27th. It is not fully flushed away until as late as the 30th.

Santa Claus. Santa Claus was invented by Coca-Cola for the Nazis.

Things to tell children at Christmas: part 4

Boxing Day is when school goes back.

See you next year!

Peter Fray

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