I felt justified wearing my Christmas socks this weekend as two excited children decorated our tree, an unexpected gift of home made mincemeat arrived and I had the pleasure of attending a Carol service and Charity concert both featuring the vocal talents of my amazing daughter Charis (along with a good injection of seasonal celebration).
My older daughters always remind me that I would not let them anywhere near the baubles and fairy lights in Christmases past. The tree had to be immaculately decorated with perfect symmetry and adhere to a strict colour theme. Nowadays I am much more relaxed and enjoy watching my two little ones dive in and turn a plain conifer into a magical work of art. I admit to not being able to relinquish my control entirely - I provide the baubles I want hung rather than giving them a free choice of the countless decorations we have accumulated over the years and once they are in bed, I might just reposition the odd offending bauble (or two!)
It took a lot longer than usual to dress the tree this year. Addy was so excited that she literally jumped up and down after every successful positioning of a decoration and Dylan was intent on using his remote control vehicle to transport baubles from box to tree. It was a delight to watch but not the most efficient use of time.
And time was tight.
On both Saturday and Sunday evenings, we had engagements at my daughter's boarding school.
Babysitters were organised, glad rags donned and we set off on the Saturday to see Charis perform with her chamber choir and an A Cappella quintet in a concert raising money for a charity whose aim is to provide loving, family based care for all children currently in institutionalised settings around the world. Understanding the plight of the orphans and abandoned childen was heartbreaking and in stark contrast to the jollity of the evening's entertainment. Charis was superb as always, especially with the quintet, performing one of her own Xmas arrangements as well as a brilliant rendition of Hark Hear the Bells in which she was barely able to take a breath for more bars than I could count. In fact, she was so accomplished and confident you could be forgiven for mistaking her for one of the teachers rather than a student. She has come a long way from the odd little girl who wouldn't talk that she once was.
There were mince pies and mulled wine during the interval. My first mince pie of the year is always a bit of an event for me and this was a lovely way to mark the occasion. The mulled wine had the right smell but looked muddy and tasted foul. I am looking forward to finding the right moment for mulled wine at home (a non muddy version) and mince pies made with my treasured little jar of home made mincemeat.
On the Sunday, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and White Christmas were swapped for Christmas Carols and Bible readings in the school chapel. It was a lovely service and the choir sang with haunting beauty. I had forgotten to take my reading glasses and didn't stand a chance in the dim light of seeing the tiny print on the order of service that would have helped me with the words of the carols that required participation from the congregation. I am always surprised by how many of the words I actually know anyway so I sang along in the glass shattering range I reserve for church and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Things got easier during the candlelit part of the service. My little candle shed enough bright light for a miraculous restoration of my sight (and dripped enough wax on my hand to be slightly disconcerting!)
The busy nature of the weekend meant that the kids missed out on their bathtime and I failed to get the costumes for their school play ready. It was a mad dash this morning trying to make them both look vaguely respectable and stuff suitably coloured clothes and tinsel into separate bags to transform them into a twinkling star and a snowflake. I had hardly finished congratulating myself for getting them to school before the bell when I noticed that one of the mothers had provided a shop purchased full star costume for her little thespian. I didn't even know such things existed! The bag I was about to hand over with a sad bit of gold tinsel started to seem a bit inadequate. Then I remembered Dylan telling me that he doesn't even want to be a twinkling star - he wants to be a twinkling shark.
It made me feel a bit better.