It's funny to remember that the little person pulling herself up by the Christmas tree pines, ripping ornaments down (then chewing on them, natch) and giggling to herself as she takes steps around the room (with no hands - when did this happen?!) is the eleven-month-old who spent last Christmas in my nine-month pregnant belly, trying her hardest to delay arriving despite my willing her to come out so I could have a glass of Champagne on New Year's Eve.
And meet her, of course.
Yes, Christmas with an almost-one year old feels exciting, chaotic and has me running around non-stop.
Hang on. That's pretty much every day of my life, celebration or not. But I love this time of year - it makes me feel like a giddy child again, and watching my giddy children makes me feel even more excited.
Liv is active and on the go, but let's be honest - she has no idea what the strange foliage is doing in our sitting room, and would be happier chewing on metallic wrapping paper than actually doing anything with the present beneath.
In fact, the only reason I've bothered to get her presents at all is because her older sister would notice - and remark on - Santa's decision to only reward one of them (this, annoyingly, is also the reason I have to throw some small version of a birthday bash for Liv in January). Diana will remember if I don't (Side note: She remembers everything! The other day, we were role-playing being Cinderella's stepsisters and Diana started talking about a pair of plastic high heels I had chucked in a rage after she tripped in them for the umpteenth time. The incident happened in 2012!)
At almost-three and a half, this is the year that D has officially become a Christmas pro.
She knows about reindeers and snowmen, had her first go at ice skating at Somerset House (She loved it so much she kept letting go of the training penguins they have for children, and loved it even more when she kept toppling over on the ice) and has had her first Father Christmas spotting under her belt. He was on the street, coming out of a train station, and he waved at her. It was all she talked about for a week.
Having performed in a nativity production at school, I'm pleased that D's knowledge of what Christmas is about has extended beyond "Santa," "presents" and "more, please (at least she says "please" now).
This month, the words "Bethlehem," "angels" and "Jesus" have entered her vocabulary (mostly in song form), which is something. Next year, the plan is to teach her about how giving is better than receiving and to do something kind and helpful together.
Since this year has been about learning to be kind and helpful to her sister - and she's come a long way, believe me - no attempt at teaching any kind of lesson has been made. I'm exhausted, so taking the easy way out. Plus, she's three. Selflessness isn't quite in her vocab yet.
We've also had carols, an advent train (filled with magnetic letters and, on occasion, a chocolate or two - thank you, Granny!) and decorated the tree together. D thought the silver baubles would look nice with her pink and silver metallic hair ties, so she hung those around the tree, too.
It was my favourite Christmas moment so far.
In fact, Diana has even come to terms with other people in the family getting gifts and has started suggesting options for Livvie ("Sweatpants, mummy?").
Of course, for me, the best thing about Christmas - well, the best thing about any day - is seeing D and Liv together. As Liv has gotten older, they've learned how to play together (mainly crawling competitions around the room, or Liv handing toys to D, which she's realised is better than having them snatched off of her), and Diana can make Liv laugh like no one else on the planet. She even has a special "D" sound - "Duh-duh!" - reserved for her sister.
And D is being surprisingly considerate. She likes to dance to Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas," and tactfully says: "All I want is Mummy and Daddy and Liv and Bolshy."
Which is so, so cute. But I don't buy it for a second - so I have a couple of gifts just in case she changes her mind.
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