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March 28, 2013updated 25 Apr 2016 1:06pm

How to Survive a Family Easter Holiday

By Alessandro Tome

Spring Chicken Alessandro Tomé was afraid of the Easter bunny more time with the restless kids! But Angel Wife is on hand with a perfect solution.

Spring Chicken

Alessandro Tomé was afraid of the Easter bunny — more time with the restless kids! But Angel Wife is on hand with a perfect solution

THE C-WORD is barely behind us, but here we are already discussing the E-word. Yes, the C-word is filled with joy and happiness, garlands and shiny balls. But what planning, what hassle, what tensions, heartaches, headaches and stomach aches — Norovirus or not, for that matter. And without proper thinking, you may end up strung up like a wreath by your… well, let’s say feet.

But as with pregnancy, at least from what I am told, while one can’t wait for it to be over, no sooner it is over than you want to plan the next. In this case, we are on to the E-word. For those who aren’t following this and are considering parenthood but haven’t watched Friends With Kids, do, to see the hideous reality. Now. Kids with not enough bunny plays and egg searches to last three weeks will make you wish you were Glenn Close’s boiled bunny in Fatal Attraction.

Many of us couldn’t wait to get back to the (relative) calm and comfort of a noisy trading floor or the politics of an editorial office. One well-worn alternative to the traditional balls and bunnies is the trip to an exotic location. This does eliminate numerous balls-and-bunnies-related issues, but not without throwing up some of its own dilemmas.

The main obstacle is making sure children and adults both have sources of interest. Except for over-Americanised adults or generally above-average dysfunctional marriages, adults still want adult pastimes and children want all the rest. I do happily admit there are some overlapping areas of interest — I love to watch cartoons and play video games, while Angel Wife hates it.

Same for theme-park trips or bombing in the pool. But even I grow up occasionally and I desperately want adult time — not only movies or massages, food or wine, excursions or shopping. Mostly it is time to do nothing. Just read, sleep, swim — chillax, as the kids say.

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As the C- and E-words have become accepted as children times of the year, the result is in the main compromise. Do the kids really enjoy the intellectual trip to ruins or museums and local villages? For five minutes, yes. But who really tells everyone about it? Are they old enough to enjoy it or too young to care? Or do they prefer the luxury location with the posh kids’ club?

They have fun so we can have fun — but do they really? What’s the point: to be with them or not? To have them herded into a playpen and wheeled out for meals? Very Victorian. Is there a happy medium?

FOR ONE, ANGEL Wife felt it didn’t have to be this way and the world is not just like I see it, black or white. She keeps bringing up the concept of ‘shades of grey’, which has led me to many a frustrating misunderstanding as to her intentions. She said you can find the right balance, and she proceeded to prove it. Of all places, she decided to take us back over Christmas to the island paradise where she and I shared major adult time (mostly in shades of turquoise blue) that is Hadahaa Park Hyatt in the Maldives.

Our secret little piece of heaven, not really designed to cater for children — no ‘entertainment’ staff, no video arcades, no other kids to scream with — was about to lose its childless virginity. What was she thinking? Why go and ruin our wonderful memories of an idyllic place? Why go and ruin it for everyone else there? There is nothing but the stunning beauty of nature there. And calm. And serenity. And water. None of which tends to mix well with most kids, even my well-berated ones (or is it well-educated?).

I don’t think I will surprise many of you by saying how right she was. How inspired her choice of location, how unique the experience, how total the enjoyment for all of us together and individually. For it is all down to that key choice: where? Kids are so adaptable and I sometimes forget how we all are, too. The kids never wanted a video game. They never needed to scream or shout or run riot. They fell under Hadahaa’s magical influence. I wish they could bottle that and I could administer it regularly when back home — mostly to myself.

The island is so small and safe that you can let them empower themselves without a worry and they can thrive in discovering their own spaces and times. The island’s calm permeates them, the beauty soothes them and nature spellbinds them. And you all end up wanting to do the same things at the same time: be together, read together, snorkel, dive or have massages, and most of all get lost without needing to say so. Time to look forward to E-bunnies, Maldives-style.
The Cold Truth
WE LOST. PLAIN and simple. They won. And the sooner we get it, the sooner we can use it to extract ourselves from this malaise we feel as a society and which risks tearing us apart. The West lost the Cold War. We didn’t lose it in Berlin or Da Nang; we didn’t lose it in Korea or even Cuba. Go to any sexy, expensive bolthole, or spend a few hours sitting in any luxury shop in a big Western city and count. Count the ratio of Chinese and Russian to others. Find the shops that don’t have at least one sales assistant of both nationalities. And then tell me we won.

There are many reasons why one loses a battle or a war or even a gimme football game, but the most recurrent is arrogance and self-delusion. And boy, did we have it in spades.

We very much felt that our capitalist hegemony would ultimately show up their ‘demonic’ falsely equalitarian regimes. We ‘liberated’ Berlin and ‘reunified’ Germany, we helped ‘free’ the old USSR and break it up into small, meaningless republics. We ‘saved’ at least half of Korea, and let’s not talk about Vietnam. So we won, we said.

But reality bites. In achieving these outcomes, we sowed the seeds of our own downfall. We enriched our military procuring businesses while indebting ourselves heavily and went from there. As a mostly guilt-based society, we felt compelled to help the newly freed people embrace the only way to prosperity and real freedom: capitalism.

We continued to spread this paradoxical freedom to any and all countries we could impose it on by throwing enough money or weapons or both at them. And, as Lenin said they would, they took the rope we sold them and are proceeding to hang us with it.

They learnt capitalism, all right. And like most ‘conquered’ nations, they adapted it to their credos. So most of them, and Russia and China in particular, practise Totalitarian Capitalism. It is state-controlled capitalism, where monopolistic government or government puppet companies control domestic markets, unchallenged from abroad thanks to their protectionist and confiscatory investment rules and are subject to no labour, pollution, graft or ethical regulation of any relevance. From this position they are then allowed to assail and take over their hapless Western ‘competitors’.

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