When I was a child, Christmas was always (mostly) a magical time. December would be filled with school plays, (where I was never Mary!), Candlelit Christmas services, trips to see family, a trip to Clements to see Father Christmas, the round table bringing Santa to us, and generally lots more lovely things to make the season magical. Christmas Eve would be filled with excitement and we would desperately try and stay awake to see Santa and his reindeer arrive - although he always bested us! Christmas Day would be filled with stockings and presents at home, then off to my grandparents house and more stockings and presents there too which were staged throughout the day. We would consume far too much Christmas dinner, with at least ten of us balanced around the table and the kids always seated on the emergency chairs. This followed an afternoon of board games and then a couple of hours later we would consume far too much for tea, followed by more! presents. Then content, we would be sent off home full of food, presents and memories of a wonderful day. Christmas was always just something that happened (mostly) flawlessly in our family and although I always subconsciously knew that I never saw my Mum and Nan sit down much on Christmas day, it never really registered until I was an adult that it was because they were busy running around "creating the magic".
Now as an adult, I still really love Christmas. December is still a magical time and we have made our own family traditions associated with the season to make it special. However, this year, fulfilling the family traditions has been a bit of a chore and the sparkle has been taken off the season slightly. I guess it could be because this Christmas season we have had to contend with two bouts of chicken pox and Hubby & I have had a very bad Flu virus. I also had to write an essay which turned into an eleven thousand word epic!. Typically, I am super organised for Christmas, but this year it has been a bit of a flying by the skin of my teeth, down to the wire adventure.
As well as all the Chicken Pox and Flu, since the beginning of December I have bought numerous presents for over thirty five people, dealt with "Christmas Fortnight" at school which involved two school plays, a pantomime, Christmas party, parents meal and various other things to remember and send in with the kids. I have attended two Christmas services at school and two at Church, been to see numerous Santa's, walked with Santa's float raising money in my local area, and created antics for the Christmas Elves on various nights during December, including a whole big Faux Elf visit on Christmas Eve involving fake snow, Sleigh bells and a big Christmas Eve present basket. I have been to the shops more times than I care to imagine, visited three supermarkets to get all of the shopping we need, prepared food for Christmas Eve and Boxing day (thank goodness that Christmas day was being held elsewhere this year), have done lots of Christmas baking and cooking and also completely tidied the house in preparation for Santa's arrival. Due to the lack of time, I left wrapping all of the presses until the last minute & was still wrapping down to the wire on Christmas Eve to get everything ready.
Come Christmas morning, all of my wrapping was ripped off within two minutes and the lounge was wrecked, but it was worth it, seeing the kids enjoying opening their toys and their excitement at seeing that Santa had visited us. Christmas Day was spent in a rush of presents, breakfast and then a trip to the In-Laws for dinner and then a visit to my family in the evening. During dinner, my Mother-In-Law rushed around preparing everything and we tried to help. In the evening my eighty two year old matriarchal Grandmother rushed around preparing tea for eighteen of us and we tried to help. When we got home, Hubby and I tidied the house and tried to make sense of the chaos in our lounge. Boxing day was spent trying to sort out the mountain of toys the kids had received and clearing out their bedrooms to make way for all of their new toys (despite having done this twice before). On Boxing day evening, I finally got to sit down and open all of my presents that I had not had a chance to open, as I had been so busy rushing around over the last two days. By this time, I was so utterly exhausted from running around for the last month that I was past caring whether I received presents or not and just wanted to sit down and sleep for a month - (although I loved everything I received).
When I was a child I thought of Christmas as a magical time where things just happened without much effort. This year especially, I have realised that Christmas doesn't happen with out the hard work & dedication of all (sorry men, but in our family, mostly) women, mothers & grandmothers who work so hard and rush around throughout December and the Christmas period to make Christmas special for everyone else.
So here is a special THANKYOU to all of the women who rush around making Christmas so special for everyone else. I hope that in the next week you will sit down with a glass of wine or cup of tea and know that it was all worthwhile. I know I will. Seeing my two year old running around the living room shouting "I'm happy!" and my eldest telling me as she went to sleep that Christmas Day had been the best day ever, just makes all of the rushing around and pandemonium worthwhile. It's also the reason why I will be doing it all again next year - although hopefully I will be a lot more prepared than I was this year!
PS - After preparing dinner on Christmas Eve, I also managed to knock myself unconscious as we were about to sit down and eat thanks to hitting my head on our Cupboard under the Stairs - but that's another story!!