It's Christmas Eve and I feel guilty. I finished work yesterday, ready for two full weeks off, but have sent T to nursery today for half a day. I know it's a bit mean, but he does love it there. I'd have to pay for the day even if I didn't send him, and a couple of hours of home-alone time (the husband is still working) has meant I have ...
wrapped the very last presents for my husband
parboiled the roast pots
peeled and prepped the carrots, parsnips and sprouts
made the veggie Christmas main (mushroom and chestnut pie)
made veggie stuffing and trimmings (veggie stuffing wrapped in veggie bacon - mug, moi??!)
made cranberry dipping sauce for our starter (fried cheese wedges)
cooked a ham in coca cola a la Nigella (yummy, although there seems to be treacle welded to my roasting tray now!)
I'm having a little sit down now, comforted by a sense of achievement, and will go and collect the boy shortly, for at least an extra bit of Mummy time!
Christmas with children is a minefield. Last year it passed pretty much in a blur, T was 12 weeks old, on a breastmilk-only diet and alternated between sleeping and screaming on Christmas day. He had a stinking cold and developed a scary viral rash late on Christmas evening, meaning I spent 4 hours of Boxing Day morning in the waiting room of the on-call doctor's service, along with scores of other tired mums and little ones. We hosted, my usual passion for devouring food magazines and picking new things to cook for the big feast abandoned in favour of an almost entirely ready-made version from Mr Tesco.
This year T is walking and talking! We've bought him a grotesque amount of presents, despite our best intentions. We started with the buggy and washing machine and veered off via half of Amazon (you can never have too many books!) and a garage with toy cars, plus a few random In The Night Garden items and a DVD of Pixar shorts, which to be honest my husband wanted for himself! My Mum and sister arrive for dinner tomorrow, and of course they'll also bring a fresh supply of toys waiting to be unwrapped! God only knows where we're going to put anything.
In the last few weeks, spoken a lot about the traditions of our own childhoods. Christmas rituals which we might like to recreate for our son. My husband's family always have the full Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve for example, so his Mum can sit down and relax on the day itself, although her buffet grows increasingly elaborate year by year, and she still spends most of the day where she is happiest, in the kitchen! I had years of Christmas mornings with Mum, Christmas afternoons with Dad, a shuttlecock feeling I am desperate for T to avoid.
So this year we begin the B-family Christmas ritual. We're going to St Andrew's for the Children's Service at four, then walking down to the Italian in the village (who project The Snowman onto their largest plain wall) for an early tea, taking T home to bed before the couples roll out for their romantic Christmas Eve. Last year we did the same (meal, not church) and T slept the entire time in his carseat whilst we ate! This year I'd imagine he'll be flinging pizza across the floor by half past five. After 7 pm, my husband and I will settle onto the sofa, our bellies full, and play games, watch telly and maybe crack open a drink or two. It's not rock n roll, but it is us, the new us, family us, and I can't wait.
Merry Christmas to you and yours. A full report on the festivities will follow! x