This year I've been fortunate enough to take TWO WHOLE WEEKS of annual leave over Christmas and New Year. In my usual tradition though, I left everything until the very last minute - buying presents, wrapping presents, packing to go away, making last minutes decorations, baking and burning and baking again... Cue note to self - be better prepared next year.
Christmas itself was just lovely. We travelled up to the Midlands on Christmas Eve to spend Christmas with my folks. Luckily the girls had forewarned Santa Claus that we wouldn't be at home, so he knew to deliver the pressies to mum and dad's house (phew). That's the thing about going away for Christmas isn't it? You have to be sure that the items on the kids Christmas lists will be easily transportable; otherwise you have some explaining to do. Fortunately this year there were no big items on the list, although my youngest threw a spanner in the works by trying to convince us that she 'needed' an electric scooter. She has a scooter that works perfectly fine using leg action alone, so we explained to her that Santa probably would not include this item in her delivery.
Christmas Day was just perfect. The girls didn’t wake too early, 7am to be exact, but they were ‘ping’ awake and begging to go downstairs to see if Santa had been, which of course, he had. That’s the best part of Christmas for me - watching everyone open their presents. Seeing their faces glow with the anticipation of what will be revealed. It’s the ‘thank yous’ and big, grateful cuddles afterwards that make all the rushing around and searching for gifts all worthwhile.
After the excitement of present opening we got ready, wrapped up warm and walked over to my Nan’s house. This took me right back to when I was a child, when every year on Boxing Day we would walk over to my grandparent’s house to spend the day with them. Mum would always remind us to pack a bag with toys that would keep us occupied all day, so we’d cram in as much as we could into a carrier bag and wander on over. I remember how cold and far it seemed back then, when in fact it is only about a mile away.
When we got there, my Nan looked immaculate as she always does. At 86 years young, this was the first year that she declared that she wanted to stay at home on Christmas Day. No amount of persuading made her change her mind either, so we took Christmas Day to her. She showed us what she’d received for Christmas, which included enough chocolate gingers to last a year and we talked about Christmas’s gone by, we reminisced about my wonderful grandad, who passed away 16 years ago and to whom my nan proudly declares she’s been married to “for 66 years this year”. We chatted away for ages then wandered back home, to the most amazing traditional Christmas dinner, prepared by my mum. Mum plated up a dinner for my nan, accompanied by cranberry sauce, a portion of trifle and a cracker and we taxi’d it round to my nan, who was waiting with her knife and fork at the ready, bless her. We pulled her cracker with her and left her to enjoy her lunch, which she did very much.
As usual, mum’s Christmas dinner was amazing. She has an admirable knack of just getting on with it, wanting no help from anyone. “It’s all under control” she says. We did get to work on the dishes afterwards though, then we all tuned in for the Queen’s speech, at which I cried (as usual) and we then played board games, which always causes a few laughs. There’s nothing better than a family board game for enabling you to live in the moment, interacting with each other on random topics of no particular relevance to everyday life, the petty squabbles over questions and answers, the belly laughs of those witnessing the petty squabbles…. Those moments are what make memories that we treasure for ever.
I have truly cherished Christmas this year, being with my nearest and dearest. OK, so there were the annoying little hitches, like the stone hitting and cracking the windscreen on the journey up and then returning home with a bag full of laundry only to find my washing machine has finally given up, but it will be the good times, the special moments that I will remember for ever.