Er, so I did not quite meet my 12 days of Christmas blog challenge. Four days short. So for this year, I will know to do the challenge a little bit earlier, as it seems that the last few days before the 25th get a little bit on the busy side (who KNEW?)
Part of what I was going to include in the last four posts was some rambling about how sometimes it is nice to give ‘experience’ gifts instead of Just More Stuff. I found this year that I really struggled with gift ideas for the children, as they have so many lovely things already, and also (whisper it) I am not sure children actually need that many toys. Biggest hits this year? a whoopie cushion – a classic – and new felt tip pens. (The girls loved their Lottie dolls also, I should add, and one very happy boy got a light saber.)
But the childrens’ main present this year was a trip down to London for a night, the weekend before Christmas. We went to see a brilliant adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ grumpy Father Christmas book at the Hammersmith Lyric Theatre which was way cheaper than the West End, a lovely theatre and not far at all from St Pancras on the underground or bus – London transport is a massive excitement in itself for my children. The play was fantastic, and was only 45 minutes long, which suited its audience perfectly. It wasn’t a pantomime, but they certainly didn’t look down on the members of the audience who ‘participated vocally’, shall we say. We loved it.
We had dinner in Pizza Express in Richmond (and probably lowered the tone of the place quite successfully – Polly did her mad Indian Dance moves – pat the dog, screw the lightbulb, sweep the floor…) and we stayed at the surprisingly nice Premier Inn at Kew Bridge, which worked out at a really reasonable £50 a night for a lovely family room. The next day we went to the Science Museum and had a great time at their bubble show as well as looking at old washing machines and vacuum cleaners. (Well, you do have to vary the fun, right?) The children had a wonderful time, and I hope they remember it as a really magical Christmas trip. London is always amazing, but at this time of year it seems particularly special. And as a present it has the added bonus of not having to be found space for/ not having small but vital parts that you spend all of January looking for. I like this. I love gifts that need unwrapping, but I like gifts that need doing, too.
But if I have learnt one thing about Christmas this (last) year, it has been that the massive build-up to JUST ONE DAY nearly lost me my remaining marbles. I talked about/wrote about/thought about/planned for Christmas so much, I got sucked into that ridiculous thing of thinking everything had to be perfect. And then I got so stressed about making everything lovely for everyone, and worrying that we would all get ill and miss the big day, that I very nearly lost the plot as well as several Christmas presents (three remain un-found!) It’s like that thing where you say a word too much and it stops meaning anything. I basically over-Christmassed myself. So I plan to make Christmas 2013 a lot more low-key. The perfect Christmas for me might not include home-made mince pies, perfect gifts or paper chains, but it definitely DOES include my sanity.