Our family Christmas was one to remember, and it started with a realisation. It was a moment on Christmas Eve – around 8.30pm in the evening and two glasses of Prosecco down – that I got it. That moment of clarity when everything swims into focus and you realise what all those old ladies at bus stops are on about when they tell you to, “Cherish every moment”.
I’m usually a bit cynical of this school of thought (it’s hard to cherish every moment when you’re running on two hours sleep a night and the toddler’s just drawn crayon all over the wall). I tend to think it can shame parents who are having a hard time and force us to draw a veil over the tricky side of parenting. I wrote about why I’m not on board with the Cherish Brigade over on BabyCentre earlier this year.
Anyway, despite being an anti-cherisher, I was bathed in a full-on glow of cherishment on Christmas Eve. We’d had one of those days when the stars and moon align to make everything Christmas card perfect. A (rarely) successful family lunch out in a cosy country pub complete with roaring log fire and amazing food. An afternoon of reindeer food making, party snack eating and Snowman watching. Carols around the village hall Christmas tree and two very excited little girls tucked up in brand new Christmas Eve pyjamas.
And it hit me – these are the magic days. At six and two, my girls are both firm believers. They soaked in the atmosphere and the traditions with wild abandon. These days won’t last forever. And that made me feel at once nostalgic for something that’s not even lost yet, excited for the following day to come and a little bit sad that it won’t last forever.
As I got to work with the snowy footprints (making my stencil shapes from a pair of insoles and sprinkling fake snow from Hobbycraft all over them) and the NLM perfected his best Father Christmas handwriting, we listened to festive tunes and felt the anticipation of the following day lying ahead.
Christmas with kids is something else. Yes, it’s chaotic and tiring at times, messy and often far from the rosy picture the John Lewis ads would have us believe. But it’s also fun and exciting. Seeing the girls open their presents and Frog’s reaction to Father Christmas forgetting (yet again) to wipe his snowy boots before clomping them all over the house – these are the things I know I’ll remember when I’m old.
Of course there were the obligatory moans about wrapping paper all over the house (me), exasperated sighs about kids not sitting long enough at the table to eat a lovingly prepared meal (the NLM), and squeaks of indignation if anyone tried to touch a beloved present (both kids) but, on the whole, the day was filled with laughter and happiness.
There’s no such thing as “perfect”, but if there was a recipe for my own ideal of perfection it would be flowing prosecco, plentiful cheese and happy kids – possibly not in that order, but still. Every year my mum makes the girls a new Christmas Day outfit that lasts them long beyond the day itself. It’s something she used to do for my sister and I as kids and the tradition’s now been passed on to my own children. I get to share the surprise too, as the outfits are wrapped up and I’m instructed to hang them outside the girls’ bedroom doors ready to find and open on Christmas Day morning. This year she outdid herself with a crazy bright retro pattern and a dress each with not only pockets but a hood too.
Baby Girl even blessed us with a two hour nap during the afternoon, giving me time to do what makes me happy – faff. I made the Christmas dinner and pottered about with candles and crackers to make the table pretty, in between
barking orders gently reminding the NLM and Frog not to mess with my festive decor.
And the best bit out of all of the Christmas Day fun is that it isn’t over yet. Boxing Day was spent at home with my parents, eating too much food and playing charades (my mum’s a retired Drama teacher – we were never going to get out of that were we?!). Skirting over the hell that was travelling up north for 8 and a half hours on a rammed motorway with two grumpy children, the rest of the holidays have been just as successful. There’ve been walks in the beautiful countryside the NML grew up in, board games fuelled by wine, Lego building, more present-opening and yet more festive food.
We still have a big family day ahead of us today with the NLM’s side of the family, a day out exploring somewhere new tomorrow and then an inevitably loud, boozy and chaotic fun-filled New Year’s Eve with my oldest blogging pal Northern Mum and her brood.
January and February are always pretty bleak months, but I have a few plans and projects to keep me distracted, plus a change in weekly routine.
I hope you had – and continue to have – a brilliant Christmas. And a very happy New Year! (As you can see from this photo – the NLM is starting 2017 with a newly reinvigorated love of having his photo taken….)