Saturday, 30 December 2017

Christmas 2017

It's funny that although Christmas has always been one of my favourite times of the whole year, in years gone by I have had a slight reservation for how much it is powered by consumerism and the quest for perfection on one solitary day. But the past few years have felt very different and it took me a while to realise why. I realised that this year I have whole heartedly and entirely enjoyed Christmas from start to finish, when it started at the beginning of December with our decorating the tree and beginning our Christmas days out, and will continue right up until after new year.

This year it seemed to click for me about what Christmas is. It's not about a mountain of presents under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning, quickly ripped open in a haze of paper and excitement and glee. It's not about putting all of your hopes and expectations in to one single day, but about an appreciation for the season, for the time of year. It's about enjoying the build up, the planning and the days leading up to Christmas as much as the event itself. It's about making traditions with your family and repeating them, each time enjoying that they are slightly unique but ever present and realising that Christmas is about them, about your family, about choosing time together and enjoying it. As we detailed in our last post, Christmas is not about what's under the tree but who is around it. Perhaps the fact it was the second Christmas with our little boy, perhaps it's because there were only a few presents each, chosen with thought, love and care, or perhaps it was because we have had such magical days throughout all of December, but this Christmas was our favourite one yet.

We started Christmas Eve with something that we hope will become a tradition for our family - going out for brunch. It has always been my favourite meal to go out for, there is something very special and relaxed about going somewhere lovely for breakfast, and it's an especially lovely way to start off the Christmas days. We chose to return to the place Sarah and I went to a couple of weeks ago, when we went out for lunch just us two. It's a beautiful place with beautiful food, and we couldn't wait to return with Oskar too.

After a long, leisurely breakfast with a glass of bucks fizz or two we went over to visit Sarah's family. Again this is what we did last year, and it seemed to work really well. It's often difficult to find a nice happy medium between seeing both families and having some time for ourselves but we seemed to find the winning formula last year and will likely to and replicate that in years to come. We spent the afternoon chatting, laughing and drinking tea, and we and  Oskar thoroughly enjoyed seeing his cousins, Aunty and Grandparents.

When we returned home, Oskar's Christmas Eve box was waiting for him. It was around 5:30, so a perfect time to begin to wind down for the evening and get ready for bed. A Christmas Eve box was something we started last year, and we enjoyed it so much that will likely make it a family box next year. This year it contained Christmas Eve PJs, a blanket and Christmas themed nappy, a Butterbear bath bomb and Sleepy lotion from Lush, an elf shaped wash mitt, a magic key to leave for Father Christmas, and the Night Before Christmas book, which I have find memories of reading with my parents and siblings each year at Christmas.

Oskar had a nice long relaxing bath and got in to his new Christmas PJs before heading to bed to await Father Christmas arrival. We had a glass of Gluwein, and enjoyed a picnic in front of the tree, as we have done every year that we have lived together. And then we too headed to bed, excited for the following day.

We are lucky that our little boy likes to sleep in until at least 8am most mornings, so our Christmas mornings of being woken by an excited child at 4am have not yet begun! In fact, I was awake first, but that's probably because I had one thing on my mind - muffins! Last year we made Nigella's 'christmas morning muffins' for breakfast, which are spiced cranberry and clementine flavoured and make the whole house smell incredible. So before anyone else woke I tiptoed downstairs and put the muffins in to the oven. It's little things like this that make me feel like a mother, I hope our child(ren) will grow up with fond memories of freshly baked Christmas morning muffins that I have sneaked downstairs to bake for them! 

When Oskar woke he was rather excited to find a small sack of presents at the end of his cot! We had placed inside the And Tango Makes Three book, a small penguin jigsaw and a Plan Toys wooden whistle in the shape of a whale. This follows a tradition my parents always enjoyed of leaving a small stocking at the end of me and my siblings beds.

He opened them whilst we drank hot mugs of coffee and wondered again for how many years we might get away with such a luxury on Christmas morning!

We made our way downstairs to see if Father Christmas had visited and indeed he had! A quick insert here to say that we are gentle parents, and a lot of people who fall in to this category choose not to tell the story of father Christmas to their children as they don't wish to lie to them. Although we understand this completely, we preferred not to choose that option. We wholeheartedly believe in the magic and story of Christmas, and for us, this includes Father Christmas visiting on Christmas Eve and leaving presents in sacks on the end of beds and under the tree. However, we choose not to tell Oskar that he only visits 'good children' and instead focus on the fact there is good in all children.

Oskar, however, ignored the small pile of presents under the tree and headed straight for the muffins on the table!

Eventually we finished our leisurely breakfast, and Oskar began to unwrap a couple of gifts. From us there was a Bajo car transporter, Grimms monochrome houses and threading bobbins, and a Bajo wooden London bus. We chose his presents based on the fact he is absolutely vehicle mad, and his favourite words are car and bus! He also loves seeing how things go together and come apart again. He has already used the stacking houses as tunnels for his cars, and enjoys putting them in and out of each other. Similarly the threading bobbins were an instant hit, and were used for threading, stacking, colour matching, pegging on the board and sorting. 

He was also very lucky to receive a beautiful wooden kitchen with accessories from Sarah's parents. We weren't too sure, when they suggested it, how much play he would get from it at only 18 months, but we have been really surprised at just how much he enjoys it. Opening and closing the cupboard doors, rearranging the pans, pulling apart the Velcro wooden fruit and veg and pressing all the buttons provide hours of entertainment. He loves helping us in the kitchen so hopefully he will grow up loving cooking and baking as much as I do. 

My parents went for a wooden train set. Which fascinates and delights our "things that go" loving boy no end. He can't quite get his head around the word train yet though, so they alternate between being called buses and cars!

We kept our own gifts minimal too, but they were lovely! I had asked for a Klean Kanteen insulated cup for out and about, as I use my indoor tumbler daily to keep my tea from going cold whilst I'm looking after little ones, but wanted one for out and about too. Sarah had asked for a new mindfulness diary for 2018 having used her 2017 every single day, and enjoying its focus on making life as good as it can be. We can honestly say that we could have quite happily gone without gift this year. We received some lovely gifts from our  families and friends but by far better than the gifts was getting to spend such wonderful times with those with love. We really enjoyed getting to see so many of them, and felt extremely grateful to have such wonderful people nearby.

After opening our gifts slowly throughout the morning, laughing at Sarah and Oskar's matching Frugi robin socks (!) stopping for Oskar to play with the ones he had opened and have one or two hundred milk breaks (presents must be thirsty work!) we were visited by my parents and my brother. Although we were happy to have a quiet Christmas day at home, just the 3 of us, it was lovely to have a cup of a tea with them, and for them to see their adored Grandson for a while. After a couple of hours of chatting and laughing at my Dad's silly Dad jokes they headed home. 

The rest of the day was a very happy blur of cooking Christmas dinner (tofurkey and all the trimmings!), eating, laughing, playing, cuddling, napping (Oskar, not us unfortunately!), playing some more and all the love in the world. I couldn't really tell you how we spent the rest of the day and evening as it was a complete wonderful blur, but suddenly the day drew to a close and it was time to put our tired little toddler to bed and sit down with a  hot chocolate.

We have spent the days after Christmas enjoying each others company, and although we didn't get a white Christmas, we were only one day out!

 Christmas 2017 was magical from start to finish, and although we still have a few more days together to relax and enjoy being at home before returning to work after New Year, I am already looking forward to Christmas 2018, which with a 2.5 year old will surely bring even more wonder and excitement than this year's did. If that's even possible! This has been our favourite Christmas so far - the combination of family, food, and tradition really summed up a perfect festive season for us. We hope however and wherever you spent it, your Christmas was a wonderful one.

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