I can’t say that this has been the most stressful Christmas run-up we’ve ever had – no-one has been seriously ill (so far – touch wood), we aren’t moving house, I’m not pregnant or clutching a baby – but it’s certainly been the most relentless.
The timing of term dates means means school doesn’t break up until tomorrow – the 21st – and we’ve already done nearly all the big festive run-up events, some of them weeks ago now. Christmas markets, tick. Preschool nativity, tick. Tree’s up, tick. School Christmas fair and school play, tick. Family get-together, tick. Preschool outing to Winter Wonderland, and end-of-term party, tick!
All that’s left to do (all!) is festive play date with old friends from baby playgroup days, visit the tree in Trafalgar Square, make mince pies and biscuits, another family gathering on Christmas Eve, and then the big day itself.
But we are all, undoubtedly, shattered already – the Mr working long hours and me spinning all the plates trying to keep everything under control while finishing off my last few work tasks for the year. It hasn’t helped that it’s rained endlessly for the past few weeks – mornings so dark and children exhausted after school – any brief patch of daylight has me scurrying for fresh air and the outdoors.
This has been the first year, though, where Christmas has felt like a routine – and I don’t mean that necessarily as a bad thing. Both children are old enough to remember previous christmases – I realise that this is IT, now, these are their memories being laid down for the future, when I hear them say ‘I remember this decoration!’ or ‘oh, this one is my favourite’ or ‘I made this one last year’ – those, suddenly, are the moments to grasp hold of and think, I hope you remember this!
My usual goal of adding new decorations to the tree – and making some – is curtailed this year simply because there is no more room! We’d need a foot taller tree next year – which could fit, just about – to find space for anything else, although that hasn’t stopped me cramming a few new things on.
We have, above, lovely personalised baubles made by an old colleague, Stacy (you can see her calligraphy here), a cat from Southwark Cathedral (meant to represent, though nothing very like in reality, Doorkins) and a pair of Gisela Graham gingerbread bears because they were just too cute to resist.
I haven’t been completely uncreative – I had a ball of white wool doing nothing at home (I’ll never be a knitter) so I spent an evening making pom-poms for a snowball garland in the children’s room – using the old cardboard disc method they didn’t come out very successful, but they have the authentic hand-made look, and luckily someone is getting a pom-pom making kit with a wooden frame for Christmas, so I hope to have better luck next time.
What I’m perhaps most fond of, though, is the little fake tree in the girl’s room – a cheap piece of tat bought from B&Q when I was very pregnant and determined to do something special for the big girl’s last Christmas as an only child. It had fibre optic lights which finally gave up working this year, so it’s not quite as magical for children as it was before – but everything on it, (see photos above) they chose, or had a hand in making, from the very earliest playgroup trips to the angel made at preschool this year.
As with the big tree, there’s barely room to fit any more on – but wild horses wouldn’t part me from any of the things on it now.
Anyway, on to the final push to Christmas, and I’ll be back before the end of the year with my round-up of my favourite wreaths – it’s been a bumper year!