Christmas of past
Oh I am old, and yet still completely young enough to remember that Christmas eve anticipation. It is the worst case of butterflies in my stomach that I ever got. My mother use to try and pack us all off to bed. It was Christmas eve, the kids won't sleep on Christmas eve, and we didn't! Who was she trying to kid that she could usher all of my siblings and I upstairs, so that she could make sure we were all asleep before bringing the presents down in to the living room? ( Yah sorry, spoiler alert, Father Christmas is not real).
It was just never going to happen, we would lie in bed trying our hardest to go to sleep and just end up in fits of giggles awaiting Christmas day. We didn't get much so we mainly looked forward to collecting all the sweets we received. Why are my kids so different? No way would chocolate cut it nowadays!
Anyway, we use to lie there giggling away, being told to shut up and go to sleep. Then we would drop off through tiredness, til around 3 am at the latest. After that it was an hourly attack on the parents to ask if it was time yet, and could we go and see if HE had been yet? I still had doubts to whether he existed at that point in memory. I kind of guessed he didn't but hoped that he did. My kids are in no doubt that it is their parents, because no fictional man in a red suit is taking credit for all our hard work! That sounds harsh, but they came to a natural conclusion and I did not want a 10 year old looking dumb in front of her friends, my 5 year old still thinks he is real.
My mother never was and never will be a great kiddy person, not one for getting kids all fired up, she is too moody for that. She would finally give in, tired and snappy, we would run down in excitement and open our presents, really, if you are younger than 25 you won't get that part I don't think, older people most definitely will. You savoured the unwrapping, knocking and tapping the box, feeling the shape and guessing what it was before you finally gave in and opened your present. Oh wow, a box of blank tapes to record the top 40 on every Sunday, I was ecstatic. That was the old Christmas before kids sulked opening their presents because the parents did not get them an Ipad and a Blackberry curve. Rotten parents( she says sarcastically).
That was it, by then, my mother had had enough, "get your toys put upstairs and get dressed" she would say. Of course we were allowed to play with them, she was moody but not Cruella de Ville. That did feel like the end of the magic for us as kids though.
How do I get my children to go to sleep on Christmas eve, and what do I do to make their Christmas more special?
Each Christmas eve, I let the children get a mince pie, a carrot and a glass of Brandy and place it on the fireplace. ( I don't like milk!). We take a bite out of the carrot, one out of the mince pie and yeah, you guessed, for safety reasons I can not leave the Brandy half drunk!
I then let them open the front door and let them sprinkle magic Reindeer food over the front gardern. Last year I made this myself, it is basically oats, glitter, and a few very carefully added drops of coloring, you can't add too much or it goes soggy. I then put them in small clear bags and printed off a special message tag. You can also buy these magic Reindeer food bags.
I then let them go and watch a movie in bed, because I have learnt a child struggles more to try and go to sleep on demand. Much easier and nicer to not have shouting around the house on Christmas eve, as per usual. I just switch the television off on my way to bed.
Now my husband is petrified of being burgled on Christmas, he doesn't seem to want to discuss the fact that falling asleep on the sofa drunk and leaving the front door open at other times in the year is just as much risk. ( Yes, I jest, he has done that once in over a decade!). This means that we have to go to bed early, around 10 or 11 pm, and get back up around 2.30 -3 am to take the presents downstairs, we nearly failed last time.
Christmas is an all dayer in our home!
No I do not mean we start drinking heavily. I mean we try to keep the fun going, and not just for 5 minutes in a morning.
We always place the kids presents in different piles, spread apart, to give each child room to enjoy opening their presents. They are really good kids at taking their time and they like to watch each other open their presents, so things go slow.
From a couple of years ago, as my husbands parents became older, we lost the chance to go every other year for Christmas lunch there, as the Brother in law invites them now. So they come to our home first with a bag load of presents for the children, and then we all have a cooked breakfast breadcake. Bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, egg, absolutely scrumptious, and sets us up for hours.
Once the Grandparents leave, we get dressed, as we have generally been picking up wrapping paper as we go. We then go and visit my parents for a couple of hours. We sometimes still went for Christmas dinner there, but as my siblings are growing up, my mother decided they were going to have an adult Christmas and go to the pub to avoid the stress, ( least said about that the better!). This year, my Stepfather will be no better from Cancer treatment, and so I am trying to come out with suggestions to brighten him up, with out the responsibility of listening to kids for hours.
We then come home after giving every one their presents and receiving ours. We are usually stuffed, unless we have come back to have Christmas dinner here, and then we get on with that whilst the children play. No, sorry, HE gets on with the cooking whilst I build up toys.
We usually try and find a film on the television, or sometimes the children have been bought one that we put on for us all. I love Disney films for that, as they are for everyone of all ages.
The younger children then get put to bed early evening, they are usually tired, and the older ones stay with us a while. My husband and I have a couple of drinks and then send the older children up after they have some snacks and treats. This is usually really cosy, as the children are tired and we all just relax with the television after a mad day of playing.
My husband and I finish the night off alone, get tipsy and off to bed. We then finish off by taking Boxing day to my Mother in laws and celebrate with a family buffet and the children spend hours with their Uncles, Aunties, Grandparents and cousins. I love the fact that Christmas isn't over at midnight.
I hope every one else is fortunate enough to find family and friends in good health this year, and Happy holidays to you all, what ever your faith, following or celebration. Also Happy Winter solstice.xx