Christmas Wind Down

Three days until Christmas! How do you feel? Do you feel as excited as the children or ready for it all to be over with for another year? Hopefully you’re on Christmas wind down like me.

Work is finished or hopefully will be in the next few days. Presents bought, maybe even all wrapped. Meal arrangements sorted. Travel plans of family cemented. Now’s the time to stop stressing and really enjoy Christmas.

Christmas Plans

Today we will be visiting Father Christmas at Tredegar House which is our local national trust property and one of my most favourite places to spend time. It’s a big old grand house and they do a Victorian Christmas. Huge Christmas trees, singing carols in the parlour, mince pies in the servants hall and stories about the house as you go round. They even have Scrooge tucked up in one of the beds being surly.

That in between week

I’m just thinking how much I’ve been loving this time over the last few years. Not necessarily the whole festive period, the build up and the decs, but that funny week that starts around Christmas Eve and finishes with bright promises of the year to come.

Not to get too profound but it’s a transformative week. Last year I challenged myself to put my phone down and pay attention and it was lush. I read loads! All about the first world war so perhaps a bit of a grim choice of topic but it was brilliant. I downloaded the library app ‘borrow box’ and just read loads.

This little week is the best in my opinion. Shops are closed so nothing to do but make do with what you have. PJs are official clothes for one day only – Christmas Eve. It feels like the anticipation is almost universal. So many families in so many countries waiting for Christmas Day. I love that feeling of being bound with hundreds of other people in expectation. It feels heavy, and rooting.

Christmas Day

Conversely on Christmas morning nobody exists outside of your own family bubble. This is the best bit. No matter how other people do it it’s Christmas morning and there’s no right way. Sometimes I’m more tired than excited but my most recent memories are of us padding down the stairs together, still dark outside, and chilly. Me and Rich both trying to get in the living room first to see our children’s reaction to the ‘surprise’.

Then Boxing Day which is always boring and, I suspect, the longest day of the whole year. It was my nan’s birthday so without her it feels like a pointless day. These last few years I have been trying -unsuccessfully- to plop a new tradition on this day. We have been out for a walk on our housing estate, trying out the new toys, skates for my 9 yr/o last year. But generally it’s the come down. The official ‘Christmas is over’ day. I kind of like sludging through this day though in a strange way.

Working at Christmas

I used to despise those funny days between Christmas and new Year. Nothing much doing, most of my friends absent due to family visiting. Historically I’d just put my name down for extra shifts on these days gearing up for a night out in some packed pub on NYE. But now with my own family, we loll. Rich is home from work and we loll and linger and watch films and eat rubbish. Like a sloth exhibit at the zoo. If they gave them TVs.

It’s worth every moment of boredom to be cwtched up at home altogether. I am so grateful for all that God has put in my life and if you’d tried to explain it to me many years ago, well lets just say those years would have been easier to get through. And isn’t Christmas the perfect time of year to consider all these kinds of things?

Time is Fleeting

I recently wrote about an annoying Christmas meme I’ve seen and there is another one that you don’t see so much anymore but it was the ‘you only get 18 summers with your children’ blah blah pressure one. I hated it from the moment I first read it, I just felt like it was another way of saying ‘stop complaining and make sure you get everything right.’ but hypocritically of me I do feel this way about Christmas.

It’s one day a year and I think I will really miss it when my kids grow up. We will have another version of Christmas with it’s own merits but I’d like to conserve some of those moments I’ve mentioned above in a snow globe. I will forget what Christmas with small kids feels like. I know I will. It would be nice to bring it out for a look every year with the decs.

As mum you’ve maybe been rushing around and sorting things out for your family for Christmas more than anyone. I hope you find those moments you most love and get to savour them for another year.

A New Year

As 2019 comes to a close with that soft sigh of those weird nothing days between Christmas and New Year I’m really looking forward to 2020 and I hope you are too. You can read more about that in next week’s post when I will be giving a run down of my 2019 because it has been awesome!

I Spoil My Children at Christmas. Here’s Why.

O.K. unpopular opinion alert. I spoil my children at Christmas and I’m more than happy to. Before you light the torches and sharpen the pitchforks let me explain why.

Nostalgia

I was doing some online Christmas shopping the other day and lamenting how difficult a 9 year going on 18 year old is to buy for. I saw all the toys on offer 2 for £15 on things like play kitchen accessories, dress up and frozen ice palace playsets and had a sudden pang of…nostalgia I suppose. For the time when I could buy my little girl all those kinds of toys. It felt a little bit like regret. Until I realised I had nothing to regret because I did buy her all those toys. I indulged myself in a daydream of some memories. One memory of her in a pair of over sized dress up pink heels and a blue princess dress pouring tea for teddies that she had set up in a circle on a blanket in the living room. The many ice creams bought from the play kitchen and playing shops on Christmas morning with a till that had a little microphone.

Fear not, that’s not the holey argument I’m going for here. As we all should know children don’t need ‘stuff’ to make wonderful memories. I also can remember her playing drums on my saucepans with a wooden spoon wearing a babygro and stripy wellies and thinking it was the best thing ever. We loved nature walks and would go outside together in all weathers to spot insects and collect leaves to make pictures.

No Money Needed

Children genuinely are happy when they’re well loved and that is the be all and end all. No matter if your Christmas doesn’t look like other people’s or even how you wanted it to look. I know from personal experience that Christmas can be made wonderful with next to no budget.

That Bloody Facebook Meme

But this post that has been doing the rounds for a few years now never fails to wind me up. The one imploring families to be careful about what they tell their kids santa brought, or even worse to not ‘go mad’ at Christmas with the amount of presents they buy. You probably know the one. And the reason it pisses me off so much is because it’s an attempt at manipulation. It aims to make parents feel guilt or shame about how they celebrate Christmas. Specifically it pisses me off because I had little as a child and now I can spoil my own kids I bloody well will whether you like it or not. Every time I see it I just want to write a big cross on it in red pen. Like a really badly failed exam paper.

It’s Alright For Some

That might be a very privileged attitiude to take. What if I can’t afford to spoil my kids? You may well ask. Then don’t is my answer. Seriously, don’t break your back trying to buy your kids loads of presents at Christmas. Buy them some presents if you can, then spend time with them. Make up some family traditions they can remember as adults. Make Christmas biscuits together or decorations for the tree. Put a satsuma in their stockings. But don’t try to convince other parents that you not being able to have Christmas how you want is their responsibility. It’s not. It wasn’t when I was a kid and it’s not now.

I have friends who choose to be economical with presents for their children at Christmas for reasons other than budget. Somone I know gets each of their children four gifts each, something to read, something they need, something to eat and something to learn. It’s something like that – I’m sure it’s supposed to rhyme (I failed my audition for that Dr Suess film). But it’s really lovely and it works for her family. I can totally understand that she is trying to create a culture of them understanding that we already have all we need and valuing time over gifts. It’s lush but the thought of only buying my children four presents each makes my stomach flip to be honest. I just can’t. And I don’t want to and I think that’s the main point I’m making.

Quality or Quantity

It’s not all about quantity either, don’t get me wrong here. I never buy presents for the sake of it, and I don’t count them to make sure I have a certain amount or anything like that. And we really don’t go as overboard as some family Christmases I have seen on the old insta/facebook/insert your fav social media site here. It’s just nice having spent the majority of my life counting pennies (literally) to not have to for my children at Christmas. It’s quite a novelty. And novelty is a good word for it, it might well wear off in a few years.

We set a budget and stick to it, and I’m not going to consider how you and your family celebrate Christmas when buying Christmas presents for my children. And I implore you not to consider me and mine. Unless you’re buying for them then crack right on. Books please 😉

Christmas is More Than Presents

Christmas really is about so much more than gifts. It’s about love, Jesus (had to sorry not sorry), family, and assessing the past year and thinking about how we can fit more of those 3 things into our next year ahead. You know, think of Scrooge.

Children genuinely are best happy when they are loved. Just simply loved. All that washing uniforms you have done? That’s love. All those fish fingers served? Love. All those hugs when they were ill? Love you can’t buy. Gifts don’t have to be bought to contain all the love in the world. If you’re having a tough Christmas this year trust me, your kids don’t mind.

You won’t ‘spoil’ your kids by going a little OTT at Christmas. You can still teach them how to be nice humans, you can still guide them in important morals, you can still create all those precious Christmas memories with them (yes that’s what they will remember). Just don’t let that bloody awful facebook meme make you feel guilty about what you buy or what you tell them about santa.

Enjoy Christmas!

It’s Christmas!

The shopping is done, my home is full, I’ve even wrapped all the presents, it’s officially Christmas.

Now that school is finished and husband is off work for Christmas and New Year it feels like Christmas has really begun. I’ve eaten mince pies and squirty cream and Christmas pudding. Yesterday I made festive hot chocolates with cream and marshmallows and a flake. Christmas tunes have been bellowing out through the Alexa.

As we are going to my mother in law’s for our Christmas dinner feast, and to my sister in law’s for Christmas Eve -and both will feed us well- I’ve only had to buy food and snacks for the periphery days we’re home. The snack cupboard is bulging. I even went all out and bought us a cheese board which felt like a luxury just for us two.

Time to relax…

December has truly flown by and it’s taken me a bit aback this year. I know how December usually goes for me – I get a bit gloomy as the days get darker, I long for snow all month, and get fed up of Christmas songs by the 2nd week. I never drink on Christmas Day and yet it always flies by in a blur. In the evening I fridge surf for left overs even though I’m still stuffed from dinner. Boxing Day is always a hang over even if not alcohol induced. I mourn the fleeting merriment of Christmas and, the equivalent of having a wedding every year on Dec 25th, it seems asinine to have put so much effort into one short day. This is the general lay out of Christmas for me. December can be emotional.

However, this year in the blink of an eye The-Big-Day is only 4 days away and I haven’t even had time to become sick of Noddy Holder. I wonder if it is because I am getting older and time just goes by that much quicker now. That’s a scary thought!

Anyway, I am truly looking forward to Christmas. The overall plan this year is to kick back and chill out. Quality family time is at the top of both mine and Rich’s list. I love getting out and visiting friends and family but it is something very special to have our cosy little nest to return home to, especially on these dark evenings.

I’m hoping to spend some time reading over the next few days and maybe writing too. I love Christmas telly, and I’m definitely not dieting. I’m going full on hedonist like Roman style feast level. Give me all the cheese. I’m most looking forward to the kids opening their presents, that’s the best part by far. They are so excited this year!

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, with people that you love. I pray that you feel loved and look to the new year 2019 with hope and curious anticipation. Merry Christmas!

Crazy Christmas Driving!

It’s December the 15th, and when I popped to the shops today I wasn’t quite expecting it to be the scary ordeal that it was. Christmas makes people crazy, and angry!

It was the aggressive driving on the roads that was the most worrying. I drive a small blue car, I call it an old lady car because I drive it because it’s low on tax and economical on fuel. I call it my old lady car because old ladies are wise! I’ve also been known to drive an Audi A5 2 litre TDI – my husband’s car, which people generally assume a man is driving. Let me just say, if you were of the school of thought that sexism is officially over, think again. Just try this little experiment for one and you will soon see how differently you are treated.

Today I was in my little blue car. This fella in a scrappy van decided to swerve in front of me and proceed to slow to 30 on a 50 road. For absolutely no reason. Rather than go around him I chose to sit behind him because, honestly, I thought he was mental and I did not want to provoke him by DRIVING MY CAR. So I sat while everyone else went round.

When we got to the shops, it was like people were willing to have a physical fight over parking spaces. Thankfully, I parked easily and it was a sweet spot too (backed onto pavement so I could safely put up the pram). But every time I came out of a shop all I could hear was beeping. It was crazy! I honestly thought a fight was going to break out. Wrapping paper and tinsel flying everywhere outside Poundland.

insult sign

I’m not perfect either I’ve had my fair share of road rage in the past. Sticking my fingers up at someone who turned out to be my sort-of-manager was not my best moment. But it’s crazy out there at the minute. Christmas is sending people loopy and I think we all need to stop and take a breath!

My main objective on a journey anywhere, in my little old lady car, or my husband’s faster rep car, is to get my baby and myself there and back safely. If I could say anything to all the dickhead drivers out there it would be: ‘Your car is not a weapon. Please do not risk my baby’s safety because you are nuts, or in a hurry.’

I saw a man in a van drive into the back of a woman’s car who was waiting at the school crossing last week and since then have heard of two other people this has happened to. I’ve driven past so many people who are more concerned about what is on their phone than what is on the road in front of them. And isn’t it obvious when someone ahead of you is on their phone? Intermittent speed and zig zagging on the road and nearly hitting the curb. The same as if they were drunk.

Christmas on the roads is mad!

Personal Christmas Gifts with Etsy

So Etsy tasked me with putting together a Christmas gift guide that is personal to me. Etsy is one of my favourite places to shop anyway so I thought I’d have a nosey at what they have for Christmas. You know when you’re out shopping and pick something up and go ‘Oh …….. would love that!’ and put it back on the shelf? Well that’s what I’m doing here really. To give it a fun twist I thought I’d name and shame too. So let’s see how this goes!

*All links are affiliate links. 

  1. This mug for my friend’s husband Jason who has had pics of him napping posted to Facebook which makes me laugh. £9.00

Etsy UK

nap king mug

 

  1. This wooden watch stand from Welsh company MijMoj for my husband Rich to support is ever burgeoning watch collection as the single one I got him for Father’s Day just won’t do. £65.00

Etsy UK 

 

  1. This tongue in cheek gardening wall plaque for my mum Elaine who volunteers at a community garden and has found her happy place. £11.95

Etsy UK

 

  1. This lovely lip balm set for my neighbour Ali. Whenever I’m round her house I seem to find a glass of prosecco in my hand and I couldn’t love her more for it! £6.50

Etsy UK

  1. This is for my friend’s husband Matt who rocks out at church on his guitar but is a stand up Christian guy, obvs. £30.00

Etsy UK

 

  1. This for my friend Vanessa as she is a baking Queen and deserves something nice for putting up with her husband posting vids of her sleeping on facebook. £22.00

Etsy UK 

 

  1. This for my friends Luke and Emma who are tying the knot next year and we all can’t wait! £5.00

Etsy UK

 

  1. Finally this mug for me because most days it’s true! £13.00

Etsy UK 

 

 

What do you think of my picks? Let me know which ones you like. How’s your Christmas shopping going?