‘Twas the night before Christmas….
This is my most favourite book, and every year on Christmas Eve the kids and I snuggle down and read it. It’s become a tradition and I only just realised this. Bear with me on this one. Ever since we left the UK Christmas hasn’t felt quite like Christmas. It’s just not the same when the sun is blazing till gone 9pm and more often than not over 25 degrees. Jamie and I were talking about how the last time we felt Christmasy was back in the UK. There is just something about Christmas that demands it to be winter. You don’t have to have snow but you need to come home in darkness, the cold wind whipping through your hair. You have to head to Christmas carols by candlelight, your nose freezing cold but singing carols in the dark with candles flickering all around you. When you do your last moment of shopping after work and the streets are light by fairy lights alone. This has always been Christmas.
So now we are half way around the world, and everything has changed. So I realised this year that over the last 7 years we have created a whole new Christmas that works just for us.
It starts with Zachary’s birthday (and mine) and this signifies the run down to Christmas. Also because the moment Zachary finishes opening his presents he starts asking when Christmas is coming. He practises his wrapping, mostly by wrapping paper aeroplanes for people – aeroplanes that I have to make I should point out. But I applaud his desire to give rather than just receive.
He’s also had his first kinder taster. My last baby is finally leaving the nest. Sob! He loved it, in fact he was the last child there and I had to drag him away with him crying ‘One more minute Mummy, please!’. This both makes me happy and sad. He’s obviously going to leave me on that first day without a backward glance.
This year we joined the ranks of nippers, or rather crazy people who dress their kids in pink and release them onto the beach. It’s madness and I can never find the kids, although at least this year the years have different coloured caps. Previously they were all pink which would have just sent my stress levels into the stratosphere. The kids are very good in the water but there is just something about not being able to find your child amongst hundreds in the water that makes me start to twitch. But they are loving it, or rather Abi is loving it and Jack is mostly joining in because he wants to make me happy.
So Sunday mornings on the beach now fill my weekends, squeezing little limbs into wet suits and stuffing heads into caps. Then I spend the next hour and a half tracking the beach gossiping, keeping an eye on my kids and watching Zachary show me how he can run at full pelt down a steep gravel path – yes I will be spending at least one Sunday in A&E.
No Christmas is complete without watching the kids sing a variety of Christmas songs about town. Songs I have listened to on repeat for at least 14 days. And every time, I proudly take photos on my kids, or half of Jack’s head who point blank refuses to acknowledge my mad waving by nothing more than an embarrassed glance. Practising for his teenage year I think.
I finish the school year with Christmas biscuits. Every year I think how lovely it will be to make homemade cookies for my kids to take into school. Every year I leave it to the last minute and spend the evening alternatively freezing slabs of batter and pressing out Christmas cookies. Get fed up and go to bed, then feverishly ice 50 odd biscuits at 7am while berating myself for silly ideas and promising next year I will just buy something. 5 years and going strong, love this tradition!
December also heralds the arrival of Buba and Oliver. Christmas is not complete until they arrive. Buba takes the dog for walks, reads endless stories and this year will be the kids’ carer while I attempt to get my head around the business. Hopefully Jamie and Kristy will have the patience for my endless questions and no doubt frequent hiccups!
So now it’s complete. I have my new Christmas traditions. Our Christmas starts with a birthday and mornings on the beach, it is the long awaited arrival of family from far flung places. It is non stop out of tune Christmas songs, christmas cookies and sunshine. It’s present wrapping, online shopping and last minute trips to Kmart. It’s broody chickens and surprise baby chicks.
It’s a Christmas tree that looks like someone gorged on Christmas decorations and threw up.
It’s a butt load of presents when I always promise that this year I will not be going over board (all my mother’s fault who always made the same promise). It’s snuggling up with my blessings and reading our Christmas story. And finally it’s putting out a mince pie, carrot and glass of milk and then threatening Zachary with a whipping if he doesn’t go to sleep. New Christmas traditions that make it just perfect.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight –
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”