It has been the busiest Christmas I can remember. We were blessed with many visitors which was wonderful but exhausting.
Equally exhausting but the exact opposite of wonderful was the drainage emergency that struck us on Christmas eve. When we should have been singing carols under the twinkling lights of the town Xmas tree and returning home full of festive cheer to a glass of mulled wine, we were in fact trying to deal with a blockage that meant I could not use my kitchen sink or (horrifyingly) my dishwasher. My ever resourceful husband, with the guidance and support of his dad, had an exploratory poke around before building a temporary system of pipes to divert the waste water to a drain that was flowing freely. The greasy, sludgy problem was then dealt with at a more convenient moment (ie not on Xmas eve in the dark). Once the blockage was finally dislodged and flushed away, I tried to reward my husband with a big hug of gratitude. The hug did not last long. He absolutely stank.
A much more pleasant memory is that of my little Addy's school Xmas performance. It was a modern twist on the traditional nativity and she played the part of an angel. I was concerned that she would not be well enough to take part having already missed a panto trip because of a nasty cough and cold that seemed intent on hanging around. I also harboured some lingering concerns after the meltdown she had during the previous year's performance. All my concerns disappeared when she stood up on stage and sang beautifully complete with actions.
Dylan also took part in a nativity. After the event he was given a certificate:
This was the most ill deserved certificate ever awarded! He was quite determined that he did not want to be a shepherd. He refused to even try on the outfit I had lovingly crafted out of old pillow cases. Foolishly, I believed that when he was with his friends and everyone was dressed up, he would be carried along with the moment. Wrong. When all the little shepherds appeared and paraded around the church on their journey to see the Baby Jesus (delightfully played by a real baby) Dylan was not among them. Trailing behind with the grumpiest expression and wearing his JCB coat over the top of his pillowcase, was my boy. My beautiful, annoyingly stubborn boy. I managed to wrestle his coat off him as he passed but he refused to join the other children for their rendition of "While Shepherds watched their Flocks". Some days later when I was putting him to bed and telling him I loved him, he asked "do you love me even if I wasn't a shepherd?" I told him "especially because you wasn't a shepherd". He sleepily added, "I didn't want to be a shepherd, I wanted to be just Dylan". Just Dylan is Just Perfect for me.
It has been a Christmas on a budget for us this year. On the positive side this has made me think very carefully about what I've spent money on and I have enjoyed the extravagances (such as my bottle of port) all the more for it. It has also meant explaining to Addy that some of the toys she has seen on the telly are expensive and possibly not quite as fantastic as the advertisers would have us believe. A trusting five year old did not want to accept that adverts tell lies!!! and she could not comprehend why I would worry about expense when Santa brings the toys!!! My eldest daughter is in her twenties - two decades of Christmases and I have NEVER had to deal with the idea of me doing all the work buying presents and Santa taking all the credit. I think my first born was far too sensible to entertain the nonsense that a fat man in a red coat visits all the children on one evening, climbs down the chimneys and leaves presents. We didn't even have a chimney in our first house! And she would have never allowed her sisters to believe such nonsense either. I trod very carefully as I tried to offer an explanation that would not destroy Addy's treasured innocence but would also give her a slightly better understanding of my role in the process. I dared suggest that it couldn't be as easy as Santa bringing you everything you wish for otherwise he'd bring me two new sofas to replace my old tired ones. Addy holds her own in an argument. She laughed at me and said Don't be silly mummy, he wouldn't have enough wrapping paper.
Despite some disagreements about what might be a good thing to put on the Christmas list, both little ones had plenty of presents that they thoroughly enjoyed unwrapping and loved every one. My husband may have cracked his tooth on my home made Christmas cake but overall the festive fare did not disappoint. Best of all, good times with family and friends reminded us of what is most important. Santa didn't bring my sofas but he certainly made sure that the spirit of Christmas was there in abundance.