SO I WON THE BATTLE of getting the decorations up early! After seeing all the beautiful lights and trees up in the town, our house was starting to look like the Grinch’s cave. And after a bit of nagging and a Bushmills or two later, James finally gave in and brought the dusty boxes down from the attic. We got the Christmas tunes on and set about starting our Christmas 2020.
From past experience, this is one job that’s definitely best done after the kids are in bed. I also love seeing their faces when they come down the stairs the following morning and see the Christmas tree and wander around the house to spot where elf on the shelf was and find the glitter reindeer and china Santa’s. This year was no exception. Jamie and Lily’s faces were like Christmas morning and they were so excited.
Ah yes, this is what it’s all about. One of the best bits about parenting, and Christmas is most definitely one of those times that everyone tells you about.
“It’s just magical seeing their wee faces light up!”
“Christmas time is all about the kids!”
“The excitement over the advent calendars, the lights, the glitter, the tinsel, the presents – Santa’s on his way soon!”
Mmm, yeah. Lovely!
What they don’t tell you about is that these moments are very often short lived. They are also usually followed by a breakage, a meltdown, some tears and a double decker getting scoffed in the utility room – and yes, that’s just me!
The first couple of hours in the morning (after the decs are up) are plain sailing and mostly enjoyable. The kids are occupied with looking around the house and finding all the Santa’s and the snowmen scattered around. Then the huge, glittering, flashing tree captures their attention and after all the “Ooooooh and ahhhing” is done, and they start to edge closer and closer to the tree, well this is when the moment flits from ‘a magical time’ to pure hell (which is also short lived by the way).
Jamie, naturally being a boy, is looking at the tree and wandering how all of this is working? He’s looking more carefully at the tree and notices the cables, then the plug and then the penny drops and my heart starts to beat that little bit quicker. Lily is just mesmerised at the lights and all the sparkles. Then she notices the berries on the tree. Yip, it’s one of those stupid things you do B.C. (before children) where you buy a ridiculously expensive Christmas tree with cones and berries already on it, thinking it looks beautiful. Which it does. But what you don’t realise is that a couple of years later and that gorgeous, wee bouncing baby that doesn’t move, grows up a little and starts pulling and swinging at your beautiful tree that cost you a small fortune will have your heart racing to the point where you wished you had bought a cactus instead.
Okay, so a bit of distraction needed here I think! Hmmm.
Advent calendars! Yes!
“Guys, do you want to see what mummy has a surprise for you?” I say while walking away from the tree.
“Yeeeahh!” They both squeal.
“Okay, sit down at the table and I’ll get it for you.” I said, feeling slightly relieved that our tree might survive another ten minutes.
And once again, it was like Christmas morning. I appeared with the calendars and Jamie and Lily were so excited.
“So, we have to find door number one.” I said. “Who can find their’s first?”
“I found it mummy! Look!” Jamie shouts while pulling the door open and scratching his way through the foil to discover the treat. “Ooooooh yummy!”
“Mummy! Help me!” Says Lily frantically.
“There you go Lil, pull the door open.” I said.
“Right, let’s find door number two now.” Says Jamie.
“Err, no we open door number two tomorrow.” I said optimistically. “We open a door every morning until Santa arrives!”
“What?!” Roars Jamie. “Noooooo!” Lily starts to cry.
“Okay, look you have another calendar here from Granny as well.” I said hoping to stall the meltdown.
And it worked. At least until they had finished their chocolate.
“Right, let’s put the calendars away now until tomorrow.” I said.
Cue – the inevitable meltdown.
Okay, quick, think fast…
“How about we get the playdough out?” I said trying to distract them.
“Mmm, okay mummy.” They said reluctantly through tears.
Thankfully, a bit of peace! Fair enough though when you think about it. You give the kids a calendar full of chocolate and then tell them they can only have one! I would be raging as well. I mean if someone gave me a bottle of wine and told me after one glass, okay that’s it until tomorrow?? I too would be stamping my feet then yelling on my back with legs and arms flailing like a schizoid fly…
So, with Jamie and lily engrossed in making playdough pizzas and rubbing the stuff into the kitchen floor tiles, I had a bit of peace and time to get tidied up, throw a washing on and do some work.
Then my phone rang. It was a work call but the signal was terrible and kept cutting out. I went through to the hall to get a better signal and carried on with the call.
After what seemed like only a few minutes, I finished the call and went back through to the kitchen.
No sign of Jamie or Lily.
“Mummy! Look!” Roars Lily while racing through from the living room.
“Look Mummy, it’s a red ball!” She says all delighted with herself.
It was actually one of the red berries that should have been still attached to the tree!
“Lily! No!” I said swiping it off her. “Don’t touch the tree.”
I walked towards the tree and there was Jamie lying underneath messing about with the cables.
“Don’t touch the tree guys! Or we’ll have to put it away!” I said sternly and realising that I was probably going to repeat these words over and over for the next few weeks!
“Okay Mummy, sorry.” Says Jamie while clambering out from under the tree and making his way back to the playdough.
Mmm, well maybe that did the trick, I thought. HA!
Later that morning, after I managed to get a bit of work done and the kids were still happily playing with the playdough. I thought I would run upstairs and throw the dried washing on the bed while they were both busy.
It’s the silence that always give it away.
Literally 30 seconds, that’s all I was. I came back downstairs to find Lily with a bunch of red berries in her hands saying she wants to put them on her playdough pizza and Jamie is underneath the Christmas tree switching the plug on and off so my neighbours probably thought we were having some kind of rave in the house!
And that’s pretty much how the rest of the week has gone. Me roaring at the kids on the hour to get away from the sodding tree, but we have improved from every half hour to the hour so I’m hoping by Christmas day, they might actually leave the tree alone! The advent calendar saga only lasted a day thankfully! Jamie and Lily realised by day two that they were going to get a chocolate every morning before breakfast and were happy with that. We might have a meltdown on boxing day when they realise there are no more advent calendars!
I think the realisation of having the so called ‘magical Christmas time’ with small kids is possible but like everything else when it comes to kids – is short lived. No matter how much time you spend making the house look perfect, no matter how much you plan, organise and invest in, the kids will be kids. They will have meltdowns and fits and crying matches and us as parents will take the rough with the smooth like we do throughout the rest of the year. Don’t beat yourself up and stress over what everyone else is doing or worry about having everything ‘perfect’, because when you do that, you will be able to enjoy a ‘magical Christmas.’
And perhaps next year, leave the tinsel in the box and maybe decorate the tree with barbed wire instead!