Making a list, checking it twice

… about to find out if people in M&S, 3 days before Christmas, are naughty or nice.

Yes, I have a few things left to do:

move the tree in from the conservatory
wrap the remaining gifts
buy food for us to eat from today up until the 27th, excluding Christmas dinner (hello, Cook!)
tidy up all our bedrooms and the living room.
try to retain delicate grip on sanity

But today’s most important task is to go and see Toby in his first ever Christmas play! 3 year olds doing the nativity – A.DOR.A.BLE.

A mistimed festival

Leaving aside the ‘religious festival crowbarred onto a pagan celebration’ argument for a moment, it seems to me that Christmas falls at the wrong time for us Northern Hemisphere people. The Aussies and Kiwis have got this one down right for sure. There is of course the option of surfing on Christmas day, spending time at the beach, eating bbq and sunbathing etc.

More than that, they do not have the shortest day falling mere days before the biggest celebration in the family calendar. They are not sliding about on the ice with 5 laden grocery bags full of sprouts and parsnips and other such “festive fare” (use of quotes deliberate). They can wrap all their presents in hours and hours of lovely daylight. Sat in the light of the twinkling tannenbaum is all very nice but does mean a New Year’s trip to Specsavers should one try to do anything as taxing as sign gift tags.

This is probably just grumbling on my part that, once again, we are a scant few days from Christmas and I categorically am not ready but here I am bemoaning the need for more hours in the day, upon the winter solstice. The irony is not lost on me.

Christmas Tales of The Unexpected

by nicepaul, editing by me.

by nicepaul, editing by me.

Late Thursday night, Mother Nature decided to dump about 8 inches of snow over Brighton. A snow day was declared, although the snow was found to be too fine and fluffy for good snowmen building, and it was a fun Friday. Right up til about 4pm when it became clear getting a taxi to the work Christmas party would be impossible.

And so a city car club car was hired and Mummy and Daddy left their angels with the babysitter and ventured out into the snow. It was somewhat hairy getting off our hill but once on the main roads it was okay and the party was fun, if a little quiet because a few invitees could not get through the snow. The parents returned early to relieve the babysitter and all was good.

The next day was Saturday. The snow was still thick on the ground, having melted only a little the previous day. In fact, just enough to create a nice crunchy crust of ice. Mummy and Daddy brought round the babysitter again, with another hire car, and set off to get festive food and drinks. The queues were, predictably, horrendous but they battled on through.

After they got back home again, Daddy used the big red buggy to transport the shopping home over the snowy pavements which were now more like sheet ice. The word forecasters use for this is ‘treacherous’. The word Mummy used when she nearly fell over would get this journalling a specific age rating and so has been left off the record. Then the car slide on the ice so Daddy had to leave it where it was (on a neighbour’s drive) and phone the car club to say he had been defeated by the elements, despite fighting valiantly with a kettle and some cardboard.

Sunday dawned and much of the snow had began to melt. On the grass it cracked underfoot. On the pavement it was more likely anything cracking underfoot would be a person’s bones. Mummy and Toby braved the outside for a visit to Santa and were not thwarted by the lack of buses, the fact buses appear to be mortally terrified of hills or the fact that Brighton and Hove City Council didn’t think gritting pavements was a worthwhile pursuit. Our trip down an icy and very steep Varndean Road will be forever filed under ‘never again’. Anyone who wishes for a white Christmas in a place singularly unequipped for snow is welcome to take over my shopping.

Dear Santa

by McBeth

by McBeth

There is nothing big I ask for this year, just a simple list:

1) A lie-in for my and the husband together. Simply a day where both kids don’t wake before 8am would be *bliss*.

2) No arguments on Christmas day – my husband and small son not to be at loggerheads over what constitutes ‘enough’ dinner.

3) No poop and no sick to mop up. From anyone. It isn’t glamourous being a mummy, Santa.

4) For people to like the presents we have picked out for them.

5) A bar of dairy milk and a cup of tea.

Thanks, Santa. We’ll have some cookies out for you and an apple for the reindeer!

Festive nommage

by summer.lovin

by summer.lovin'

The trouble with being at home for Christmas with just the four of us is that just two of us eat adult portions and another one of us isn’t really tackling anything with lumps yet while Mr. Finicky will no doubt request salmon or fishfingers or gingerbread.

This means that my Nigella Christmas hasn’t seen me crack the covers for more than a recipe for mulled cider. I think I’m going to bake and make a gingerbread house with Toby, and I have some mixed fruit currently awaiting its fate in the kitchen, but beyond that I think this afternoon’s trip to M&S is going to provide Christmas dinner this year.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook, but 4 hours in the kitchen for one meal for two of us? I’ll go with the pre-made this year, I think :)
And now, to go and make my list.

Gifted giving

This year’s gifts include, in no particular order, most of the Fisher-Price singing plastic available for the under ones, a copious spread of Peppa Pig and Toy Story for the under fours and a metal robin watering can, a packet of lavender, two glazed tiles, two crocheted cakes, 3 packs of chocolate, a boardgame, a DS game, a metallic giant pink piggy bank (!), salt and pepper shakers shaped like VW campervans, tickets to a show, a thermal hat and mug, a smattering of books and some other bits and pieces for family.

The best gift I have bought this year has to remain a secret though, as it for someone who sometimes reads this blog and enquiring minds always want to know …

Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou

… for Amazon next day delivery.
… for pre-cut scotch tape.
… for small Christmas supper parties with girlfriends.
… for twinkly lights and cinnamon sticks.
… for M&S doing easy peasy Christmas food so we can pick what we want to spend time on.
… for lumpy, glitter festooned, clay tree decorations made at nursery.
… for Muppet Christmas Carol
… for scarves and sleeveless gloves and hats like pandas.

The Annual Unwanted Visitor

I was wondering where it was, it seemed to be late this year, but it’s now here in its full glory. The Advent Cold.
Always a humdinger, always with a scratchy throat and super runny nose. Last year I couldn’t take anything because I was pregnant and I knew I was ill because watching unseen Dad’s Army episodes seemed like light relief.

Of course, Paul and I get it at the same time leaving us at the mercy of our children – one also ill and the other is, well, three. That should tell you everything you need to know about that. Thankfully they are both off to nursery so I think we shall retreat to our pits for an hour or two extra sleep (the day started at 5.30am) and then face the world.

A cold is a bit rubbish but a cold on little sleep is awful.

Secret Santa 2009

by magma666

by magma666

I am taking part in two secret Santas this year. One I have received my gift for already – a lovely Emma Bridgewater recipe book – and the other I haven’t got but I have managed to buy my gift, a crocheted cupcake (I KNOW!!!) and a gold flower brooch!
I’m also taking part in a couple of Christmas fanfiction exchanges, because that’s how I roll. My inner teenage girl thrives on the internet.

Carols

I have a special place in my heart for Carols probably because as a kid I was a chorister and the Church spends the whole of December getting excited about Christmas, what with the advent crowns and so on.
Special memories include my brother singing a beautiful version of Once in Royal David’s City and also my wee friend Patch Anderson too. Even I, nervous ol’ me, sang a solo at one carol service and I think it went okay. I also remember someone’s hair catching fire at one Christingale service (small children and candles – never good), chocolate santas for the choir decorating the organ, singing many unusual and beautiful arrangements, midnight mass being a giggle and our Christmas Eve Nine Lessons and Carols being enormously important and lovely each year.

My favourite carol though is one I never sang. In fact I think I first hear it on the soundtrack of schmaltzy Christmas movie ‘Home Alone’: The Carol of the Bells though it as a Ukrainian carol much much older than that.

Carol of the Bells from Julie Andrews' special with Treorchy Male Choir, the carol starts at about 1:11.