FOR as long as I can remember, Christmas has followed the same pattern, but not this year. This year we’re breaking with tradition for our first Christmas with a little one in tow.
The lead up to the big day usually sees me making dozens of visits to the shops, spending hours browsing before frantically buying all my presents at the end of the day and making my way back to the car loaded down with bags. Then there are all the Christmas films to watch – one year we attempted a sort of film advent calendar, watching one a day for 24 days – and mountains of chocolates to get through.
Not this year. This year we haven’t even made it through one film or even opened a box of chocolates. This is how Santi’s jam packed calendar of events changed my December:
3rd: Sing and Sign party – tears at the start, cheered up half way through, pulled Father Christmas’s beard
10th: Party – mostly spent doing Humpty Dumpty off the stage with Stew, asleep by the time Father Christmas came
11th: Party – woken by rogue toddler beeping his nose, mostly grumpy, threw some bread on the floor, asleep by the end
13th: Birthday party – too ill to go 🙁
20th: Birthday party (accompanied by uncle Marc and aunty Beth) – threw ore bread around, meltdown and asleep by the end
22nd: Party – couldn’t even go into the room as it was too loud, played with decorations in the foyer
Add to that the usual baby groups, two family birthdays and two parties of my own, and John Lewis has been massively neglected. It was actually quite nice not getting caught up in the frantic buying, and also meant I could hand make several presents – I took huge advantage of Amazon Prime for the majority of the rest.
So to the day itself…
Usually, we get up and open our presents at home, visit Nan’s house (the men of the family then scoot off to the pub across the road for a quick drink), leave my father there for dinner while me, my mother and Marc go to Mam’s, pick my father up later in the afternoon and eventually go home. Add in to that a visit to Stew’s family from the age of 17 on and it’s a bit of a hectic day!
This year we decided that to make things easier everyone would come to us. We (when I say we, I clearly mean Stew) will be cooking lunch for seven – the two of us, my parents, my brother Marc (he and Beth seem to be continuing the Lewis tradition of eating separately), Nan and uncle Martyn. Plus a pureed dinner for Santi, of course.
Seven isn’t a huge amount of people, but for some reason our fridge is stocked for the 5,000 (Stew was in charge of food shopping – I don’t think he trusted me to buy enough). We have the obligatory turkey – I haven’t dared check what size, I just hope it fits in the oven – lamb (a leg / shoulder?) and Nan has bought a duck. As two of the seven are veggies, I’ll only eat the turkey, and Marc picks and chooses when he feels like eating meat, we also have a chestnut and cranberry roast that serves four. No wonder the fridge door bounces open every time we try to close it … I’m just waiting to go out the kitchen to find Jeremy in a food coma.
Not forgetting Stew’s side of the family … the Rees clan is coming over after lunch at Stew’s sister’s, and we will have a bit of a buffet in the evening. I naively thought this would consist of a couple of turkey sandwiches and cheese and crackers, but no, the freezer is also full to bursting with mini pizzas, sausage rolls, mozzarella sticks, chocolate gateaux (I could go on). Oh dear…
Every time I’ve popped into town over the last few weeks, strangers have stuck their heads in the pram and asked if I’m ‘spoiling’ Santi on his first Christmas. And the old ladies in Asda have had the same answer each time: “No, he’s six months old.” I might sound like the Grinch, but this year to me is more about family than gifts (they’ll see that when they open their homemade presents!). I’m lucky enough to be able to extend my maternity leave to spend more time with Santi, so I don’t want to fritter away our money on toys he is too young to appreciate. He’s already had the musical instruments and building blocks we bought because I didn’t see the point in waiting a month to give them (I really do sound like the Grinch now, don’t I?), but we’ve kept the presents from all the parties and family and friends to open tomorrow. I’m looking forward to the day he runs into our room (hopefully not at some ungodly hour) asking if ‘he’s been’, but for now Father Christmas can enjoy steering a slightly lighter sleigh to No 17.
So, everything’s wrapped, the lamb is a-cooking (I’ve convinced Stew we can’t cook that and a turkey tomorrow) and the Christmas pop has been cracked open. All that’s left to do is watch Elf and wait for the madness to begin … Merry Christmas everyone!