“I love Christmas”, I annually proclaim when the shops are still full of pumpkins.
“I can’t wait” I say, doing my child-present-recon for Santa in November, visiting toy shops for ideas and leafing through catalogues with small people.
“I’m feeling decidedly Christmassy” I announce, with a glass of mulled wine in my hand at our Santa visit in early December (so minds cannot be changed).
We go see the lights in the dark, wear our festive jumpers, attend school plays, and try to temper the kids’ excitement.
We take the decorations from the attic, trying to remember what goes where.
We choose this year’s perfect real Christmas tree together. My husband goes solo with the outside lights and I
direct him how to rearrange them commend his display.
There are grown-up Christmas nights out, and Christmas mornings-after. We leave sending the cards til the last minute and vow to keep a proper list of names and addresses next year as we search emails for friends’ details.
Presents are chosen, tracked down, hidden and wrapped. We lose the spare bed in the process.
We have Christmas meet ups with family and friends, long afternoons and quick gift exchanges.
It’s Christmas week.
I do the grocery shop, with too many luxuries and not enough real food.
Most years we work right up to Christmas and then usually, collapse in a heap, exhausted on Christmas Eve, as we hear the faint sound of sleigh bells in the distance.
Christmas Day is a busy but lazy blur, punctuated by Mass and Dinner. (Read all about our Christmas Day HERE)
St. Stephen’s Day is spent visiting Granny and Grandad and the aunts and uncles. We get home late and laden down with beautiful gifts. We are all wrecked.
For some, Christmas is over, but for me, it’s only beginning. This is the best bit, the bit of Christmas that I really love.
We’ve nowhere to be, nothing to do except what is absolutely necessary to keep the five of us alive and healthy. The kids stay up late and sleep in the following day.
So we have Irish breakfasts like this, and go for walks on the beach for balance. We go down town for coffee, or we stay at home in our pyjamas. We drive each other crazy, and we get along like a house on fire in the same hour. My husband and I smile at each other when one of the kids does something cute, and five minutes later scold the same child for misbehaving. We break up fights, and play games. We build Lego and use the craft kits we got for Christmas. We read the books that Santa brought and do Playdoh. The boys constantly challenge the rules for the DS screen time. We eat chocolate and cheese and drink wine (adults only, after bedtime).
We all watch movies together, and drink lots of pretend tea that our toddler girl provides. We play “bad guys” as directed so our children can practice being Power Rangers. We buy newspapers and read them more than we normally would. We still do laundry but no ironing and we do as little cooking as we can, we still provide drinks and snacks as requested, and wipe bums and clean noses, but this is as chilled as it gets around here.
There’s nothing to do, nowhere to be, no guilt for not doing. Just the five of us and days stretching out in front of us to spend together. No work to get in the way.
It’s the time of year when we reflect on the good of the past year and are hopeful for all the next year has to bring. I plan my resolutions, my fitness goals, my house reorganisation. I write a DIY list for my husband that always involves hanging up extra hooks. We sit on the couch and “discuss” it.
This is the bit that I like most, the after Christmas, before New Year inbetweeny bit. No pressure, that’s all done. No work, no school, no uniforms, no lunchboxes. I wish it could be this bit every day. This is the bit that I mean when I say how much I love Christmas. This is the best bit, the bit that truly deserves to be called “the most wonderful time of the year”.