Back in the day daddy would load the car with 2 littles and a wodge of cash and the warning not to come home with anything too big and away they'd go the three of them giggling in their collusion. I'd stay at home and vacuum the lounge ready for our new arrival, get the wrapped presents out of hiding and on our bed ready to be ceremoniously carried through and put under the tree and in charge of refreshments; a beer for daddy and hot chocolate for the littles. Often an hour later they'd return with some behemoth of a tree lashed to the roof, bright red cheeks, runny noses and shiny eyes - and that was just daddy. Then there'd be the song and dance of getting the ruddy great tree into the house followed by yet more vacuuming to get up the pine needles that someone was already crying about having stood on. In the very early years Em and Tom were allowed to hand me the decorations and I would apply them to the tree, which would remain tastefully tinsel free. I decided that each year the kids would be able to buy one bauble each so that by the time they were grown ups with kids of their own the tree would be decorated in baubles that had some history and meaning, I even planned to buy a note book and write down who picked which bauble and in which year, I bitterly regret not doing that now, how lovely would that have been? That said the majority of the baubles are still the ones that they have picked over the years. As the kids got older they were allowed to decorate the tree, so we had 37 baubles at 3' and 37 more at 2' and I had to go into the garage and swig sherry and scream into a pillow. Then once they had gone to bed I'd "fix" the tree. Control freak.
Usually the tree would go up on the last Friday before Christmas, this year due to having a million and one things to do in the run up to Christmas we have decided that it has to be a week earlier. It's such a big deal to Em that she has taken the day off! This year Tom wont be going along to purchase the tree as he is in college and I have to stay here because we have guests due to arrive throughout the day so Steve and Em will go off for a bit of father daughter bonding and tree purchasing. One of our other family traditions is that each year I would decorate the table for Christmas dinner with a different colour theme, always a secret that wasn't revealed until they all came through for dinner. Some years this worked better than others. One year I went for jewel colours on a white cloth, bought fantastic jewel toned napkins and crackers, filled little glass jars with colour glass dragees and scattered more glass dragees over the table. In real life, by candlelight it was magical and very opulent looking. On Boxing day when we sat down to watch our Christmas day video my beautiful scattered dragees looked exactly as if the table was swarming with cockroaches - not quite the look I had been going for! Now that Em is grown up she joins in with the table planning and as we have decided on this years colour theme she is in charge of sourcing anything she can for the table today too whilst she is out with her dad. Two years ago Christmas Tree Friday was a very drunken affair, Em and I did the tree along with a bottle of prosecco and moved onto the amaretto all the while singing carols at the top of our voices, Steve and Tom were delighted.
Last year our Christmas was a very low key affair, we had hoped to be out of the guest house and in our new home for Christmas, until the purchasers pulled out on 6th December, I was beyond heart broken at the realisation that I wasn't finally going to live a normal life only sharing my home with my immediate family rather than a procession of strangers and that we would be working 7 days a week for several more years and we were going to a wedding in Ireland on Boxing Day so there didn't seem much point in spending a great deal of time decorating the house. We did have Christmas Tree Friday and the tree looked beautiful but the joy was missing. This year we have picked ourselves up, come to terms with staying at the guest house and are determined that this is going to be our best Christmas ever!
This post will get photos later this weekend, I'll tweet when I've added them!