Just a quickie before we all spend the day eating until our heads fall off and snoozing in front of the television.
The tree is all ready for Santa to arrive.
We’ve got carrots for the reindeer, and beer and mince pies for Santa. What I’d love to know is this: do you get dressed before you open your presents, or hurtle downstairs and do it in pjs?
When I started quizzing Ross about his Christmas traditions and he looked bemused, I realised perhaps our family is a bit deranged. My mum has been known to call me in September and discuss Christmas table colour themes and a couple of years ago I managed to completely Christmas myself out by buying and wrapping all the presents before October half term. We have all sorts of mad rituals and I love them all, especially the new pjs under the tree on Christmas Eve as a special early present.
So it was with huge glee (me and the six year olds), slight suspicion (the eight year old) and varying levels of reluctance (Ross and the 12 and ten year olds) that we visited Santa’s Grotto this weekend. But when we peeked into the magical room and saw THIS everyone was amazed, even they cynical big ones.
Actual Santa. The real Father Christmas. With a REAL beard and actual white hair and everything. And pretty impressive jewellery.
Anyway I couldn’t help noticing that there seems to be a letter from a certain ten year old tucked into the little bag on the mantlepiece, so I think visiting Santa is one tradition we’ll be keeping up for a while to come.
This is our first Christmas as a family of eight, so we’re making things up as we go along. If you have a family tradition you’d like to share in the comments, I’d love to hear!
We were having a conversation over on the Tales from the Village Facebook page about Christmas addiction. I accidentally fell into the shops this week and came out with armfuls of decorations, scented candles, Christmas bunting, paper chain kits, and beautiful hand-decorated glass baubles. This is pretty restrained by my standards – I’ve been known to have a sneaky play of the Christmas music in September. I’m so excited about our first Christmas in this big Victorian seaside house, where I can buy a ten foot high Christmas tree because the ceilings are ridiculously high, and cover the place in holly and ivy from the garden.
So Saturday afternoon – following a very cold but productive spot of gardening and a chat with Monty Don on Twitter (I KNOW – eek! see FB page for details) – brings a heap of Christmas magazines, with children otherwise occupied. Hot chocolate and a huge fluffy fleece blanket (first gas bill arrived this morning and hooray, we’ve used less than they estimated, so it looks like our wear-lots-of-jumpers-and-snuggle-under-blankets plans are working). And a glorious programme on Radio 4 about The Smiths.
My favourite is Ideal Home’s Complete Guide to Christmas – partly because for me buying it signals the beginning of my once yearly Christmasfest, and this year because my friend Heather was editor and that’s quite exciting.
We can’t have a fire because the chimney needs to be lined first (anyone any idea how much that costs?) but the cast iron fireplace is so beautiful it looks lovely with candles. I love this house SO much.
Sneaky peek at some of the decorations – I realised this morning when I dug out all the fairy lights to test them that I may need some kind of rehabilitation programme, or a generator of my own.
Whilst on a Smiths theme, I’ve just seen these on Twitter: Smiths songs as Penguin book covers which aren’t available as prints yet but ooh, when they are, I’m buying some.
This is a bit of a Saturday ramble, isn’t it? It’s like an email to a friend. I’ll shut up now.
Oh before I forget! Winner of the not-in-the-UK part of the Martha Stewart giveaway was not-in-the-UK commenter no.1, Linda from Canada.
And the winner of the in-the-UK part is (drumroll)
commenter no. 3, Mrs Pao from the lovely mumblings blog.
I’ll get the loveliness in the post on Monday for you both. Happy organising!
I think most of you have worked out by now that I’m easily pleased. Iced tea in the sunshine, keeping chickens in the garden, walking in cornfields, pumpkin pie and planning autumn gardens, ladybirds, hoar frost on a dogwalk, apples, cake, crochet, cats. Writing my book (I forgot there was a snippet of the novel on here if you want a sneaky look, and there’s another bit here.
Anyway, you know what I mean. Finding lovely things in the everyday. Little snippets of happiness. So the arrival of this new magazine has filled me with glee (and a slight attack of the ooh-I-want-all-the-pretties-featured-within). Have you seen it yet?
The theme at this week’s Gallery at Tara’s place is love.
It’s easy at this time of year to get caught up in the presentwrappingtoyfindingfloorsweepingdecoratingwashingtidying panic of it all. Believe me, I know. Yesterday when sane people were snuggled up at home with their children making home made cookies, watching family films, playing board games* and being sensible, I was sliding around a car park with three boys in the back of the car. Last minute Christmas shopping isn’t my idea of fun, especially in a foot of snow.
But Christmas isn’t about all that. Tara’s theme is perfect – it’s about love. It’s my little sister driving up from Surrey on Christmas Eve with Chris Rea on the radio. It’s my lovely niece and my daughter having a sleepover at my mum’s house. It’s my boys making paper chains in the kitchen. It’s the standing joke about the red onions (that even the starving, half-frozen birds in my dad’s garden wouldn’t eat). It’s giggling every year over the Christmas we spent up at Dad’s house where we grilled the turkey for two hours because we didn’t know how to work his oven, and dinner was served so late that everyone was plastered on champagne. It’s The Royle Family (have you had your tea?) and Jenga and waking up at five because I can’t wait to hear the children when they realise HE has filled their stockings. It’s going to the Christingle with my Mum and Chris and seeing all the friends we have in the village and their children, and kissing everyone and exchanging cards on Christmas Eve. It’s being on Facebook at 1am on Christmas Eve and friends from the village sharing last minute wrapping updates and ‘help I’ve run out of sellotape – has anyone got some spare?’ messages.
And most of all, it’s this lot. Look, no1 has her arms wrapped around her brothers. Half the time they want to kill each other, but this picture says it all.
Love at Christmas.
*if there’s a secret to doing those things without it ending in World War 3, please let me know. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off for a bit of comfort reading – a copy of Jump by Jilly Cooper and hide from the children.