Sunday, 4 January 2015

The highlights (and lowlights!) of our Christmas

This blog has been badly neglected over the Christmas break; I think I've had even less time than usual since pre-school broke up, even though G has been off work for two weeks. 

On the whole, we've had a really nice Christmas break and spent some quality time together as a family.  It feels like Christmas lasted forever, but I think that was partly due to the fact that we put up our tree and decorations on 30 November.  M loved decorating the main tree and the little plastic tree we got for his bedroom, and I was pleasantly surprised that he managed to get most of the baubles and other ornaments distributed pretty evenly on the tree.  I didn't have to move much around once he'd gone to bed!

We visited the local Dickens night in a nearby town in early December, and witnessed the switching on of the Christmas lights (of which only half worked!), and enjoyed the fairground rides and atmosphere.

On 12th December we visited The Magical Journey attraction at The Belfry.  This Christmas event had been the subject of a lot of controversy when it closed after opening for just one day due to complaints, and after we visited it went on to close a week ahead of schedule. Our expectations for the experience were pretty low, and there were parts that were rather poor, but on the whole M really enjoyed it, and especially his first visit to meet Father Christmas.

M insisted on choosing a Bingo game from Father Christmas's sack of toys, which we did try to advise him against, as it wasn't really aimed at a pre-schooler, but in true M stubborn fashion, he refused to change his mind!

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a spot of gingerbread men and women making, and this year's creations were colourful, although overdone.

Onto the nativity play at pre-school, that I had really been looking forward to. M had been singing lots of nativity-related songs throughout the end of November and December, and solemnly told me that he was going to be the donkey in the play (I later found out he was designated the role of a sheep, so he was obviously trying to build up his part!)  The day came, and I arrived at pre-school with my charged up camera and my phone at the ready. The children filed in, all dressed up and singing their first song.  But M was wearing an orange t-shirt and an unfamiliar pair of joggers along with someone else's brown boots. Not a sheep at all, nor anyone from the scene of the birth of Christ. His key worker caught my eye and gave me a 'whoops' look.  M sat on her lap throughout the whole performance, not singing or joining in with the actions until the very last two songs when he announced loudly to the whole audience that the last song was going to be 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas'.  It turned out that he'd had a coughing fit as the children were getting into their costumes, and this had resulted in him vomiting all over his clothes and then refusing to wear a costume.  Poor little man.  I was sad that I didn't get the photo album experience that the other mums and dads got, but I guess there will be other years for that!

The weekend before Christmas we went to a party arranged by our NCT gang for our six 3 year olds, and one little sister.  One little boy couldn't make it due to illness, so it was a shame we couldn't reunite all six kids.  It was a huge hit with the five other children, who played pass the parcel, decorated gingerbread men, made some paper plate snowmen, and hunted Christmas jigsaw pieces.  It was fantastic to see them all together again, all full of mischief.

Christmas Eve is probably my favourite part of Christmas. I love the anticipation and the magic of the day and wanted to make it a special family day for us.  I arranged for us to take M to the Snowdome for a 'Snowplay' session, where we could sledge and play about in real snow.  I was confident it'd be a hit as we'd enjoyed tubing the previous month.  M was very excited waiting for our session to start and watching all of the other families having fun.  But we'd been on the snow about 5 minutes when he started to whine that he was cold and was obviously not enjoying himself.  We had to give up and go home.

When we got home, I'd made a trail with Christmas ribbon, leading to a Christmas Eve box, full of sweets, new Christmas books for each of the boys, and new pyjamas for us all.  M followed the trail excitedly but when he found the box of goodies under his bed, he was not interested in its contents: all he wanted to do was go on another treasure hunt.  I got a bit fed up at this point as the day seemed to be going horribly wrong, but looking back, I think my expectations were probably just too high.

I took some photos of the boys in their new pj's and we put out the magic reindeer food and the carrot, port and mince pie, which brought the magical feeling back again.

Christmas Day morning was lovely.  M woke up at 6.50am and we could hear him singing Christmas songs to himself before he even realised that Father Christmas had been.  We listened at the bottom of the stairs to his room for a while then heard the moment he realised that his stocking had been filled.  He rushed to the top of his stairs, calling 'Mummy, Daddy! He's been!'

M opened his and his baby brother's presents in our bed, and I was taken back to the Christmas mornings of my own childhood.

The rest of the day passed by in a whirlwind of visiting family and tearing open more presents.  M had his first bike from his nan and granddad, a bit of a milestone in any boy's life I think.  M's favourite presents besides his bike were a lift the flap book explaining about how the human body works, his 'Who Shook Hook' game, and his new Wii Fit Plus game.

One particularly special moment amidst the chaos was during Christmas dinner, when, during a lull in conversation, M said, 'This is all my family, all together.'  It was so sweet, and also poignant, given that we were all missing my granddad's presence.

The week after Christmas was quiet: we saw family, met up with friends and stayed home and played with all of the new games and toys.  Tomorrow, the start of a new week and new year, it's back to the old routine of work, and pre-school.  It has been lovely to spend some quality time together - our first Christmas as a foursome.

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