Yesterday, a dozen of us descended on one of those licensed restaurants - which used to be called pubs - for a meal where we could just leave the plates and bugger off when we'd had our fill of turkey and Sancerre. On returning home (via a few hours at a house containing a Wii machine to knacker the little Ps with Just Dance), Mrs P and I enjoyed a joyous but intangible Christmas present.
I'm not sure exactly when the practice started, but we've taken to pinching small portions of the little uns' bits and bobs every now and then. For example, a few chips from a Maccy D's meal, a spoonful of their after dinner dessert, a couple of sour sweets from the pick'n'mix. You know, that sort of thing.
We call it 'tax'.
They've reluctantly become accustomed to it, and it was helpful in explaining the concept of taxation in their younger years. You should have seen the look on their faces when we first described how many things the government applies this to. They were particularly amazed at road tax, fuel duty and VAT on top of it with relation to transport ... and that was before going on to explain toll roads, insurance duty and fees for some to park outside their own home.
They each received a Galaxy selection box, amongst other things, yesterday morning and we - with tongues firmly in cheek - announced that the tax would be a Ripple bar from one and a bag of Minstrels from the other. It was heartening to find out later that the very sweets in question had, without our noticing, been spirited away into hiding places in their rooms.
Oh joy! They already know about tax, but now they have developed a practical understanding of tax avoidance too.
Now that's something they won't learn in the state education system, eh?