There's one month to go, and I cannot tell you how often I've heard "Christmas is all about the kids".
I'm sorry, but it isn't. My toddlers will ruin Christmas. Maybe once they're older we'll get a bit closer to the magical day promised by all the TV ads, as joyful, clean and well-behaved children unwrap their presents from the big man excitedly and happily dance around the room with their new shiny prize. For now, though it's a distant dream and here's why ...
1. No tree - We have two tiny tornadoes who destroy almost everything in their path. Shall we put something which is in equal measure irresistible and lethal in the corner of the room? I don't think so. Unless you are happy for them to pull it over, eat the baubles, risk an electric shock by chewing the lights or try to climb up it. Personally, I think it might put a bit of a dampener on the festivities.
2. No Christmas Day walk with the dog. While we may "enjoy" the fresh air and bracing breeze the little people definitely won't. I can wrap them up in as many layers as humanly possible but their faces will always be cold (baby balaclava?) and their hands too, as mittens are apparently the worst thing in the world to ever touch your hand when you are 16 months old, and must be removed as quickly and as often as possible.
3. No Christmas Dinner - I just don't see the point of spending 4 hours doing my very best Delia impression whilst burning my fingers, losing sprouts and realising too late that we have no duck fat/ carrots/ streaky bacon/ gravy granules to prepare a dinner which will take at least an hour longer to cook than I thought and then be thrown at the dog by the kids. I could achieve the same result grilling sausages for them in 12 minutes - 3 hours 48 minutes and a finger or two saved! The most exciting roast dinner of the year will only be eaten by people over 5 ft tall once it's stone cold, congealed and the kids have had their fish fingers. And eating together? AT THE SAME TIME?! Now that's a cracker joke that new(ish) parents would actually laugh at!
4. But no crackers either - too noisy / scary / delicious (apparently), complete with perfect little choking hazards and disappearing parts. I don't want to be fishing bits of cardboard and gunpowder out of their mouths all day. 6 crackers = one over-excited child, one terrified, screaming child, and only 4 and a half bits of them and their contents left visible to the adult eye (importantly, not to the toddlers' eyes) "NO ONE MOVE UNTIL I FIND THOSE MINIATURE NAIL CLIPPERS!"
5. No way are they opening all their presents on one day (no explanation needed for this one) so we will have to take away and hide some of their pressies, AND try to explain to disappointed friends and relatives why they can't watch the kids work themselves into a total frenzy opening their 14th gift of they day. Upset kids + fed up friends + present police parents... Woo hoo, Merry Christmas everyone!
6. No Booze - for one of us anyway. Should we end up in a cracker-choking / bauble-biting / tree-toppling nightmare, we'll never get a cab and one of us had to be able to drive them to the out of hours doctor. (Me. I'm pretty certain it will be me). I will stash some for Boxing Day though, to ensure there's actually any eft for me as we start Christmas Part Two.
7. Their presents. Flashing lights. Loud noises. Nursery rhymes on repeat. Awful voices enthusiastically demanding you push a button. Only wanting what their brother / sister is playing with ... Where did I stash that booze?
So as we sit in our very bare house, eating fish finger sandwiches with a cup of tea and no silly hats or fickle fish to play with on Christmas Day this year, will it feel very festive? Of course it will, just not in the way that it used to. B.K. (Before kids) Christmas to me was about the decorations, as many lights as I had sockets for, parties, hangovers, lovely nibbles with lovely wine and beautifully wrapped presents under the tree. It's going to be very different, un-Christmassy in my opinion B.K.
I will miss the tree, I will feel like The Grinch when I have to prise beautifully wrapped presents from their hands for "tomorrow" and I wish I could relax a bit more, but I will also relish every moment. Last year they were little babies, utterly bemused by all the fuss. This year they may still not be swept up in the 'magic' of Christmas but they'll love the shiny wrapping paper, the boxes (obviously), the visitors, the fun and the attention and next year they will be completely different again. I want to remember every smile, cherish every excited squeal and hope there aren't too many tears! Christmas will be different this year, but so is everything else now we have toddlers!
And anyway, I've just found a tree on the web that you can anchor to the ceiling ... One problem down, 6 to go ...
Boxing Day at Nannys's - if my twins could text:
TWIN 2: "What is Christmas?"
TWIN 1: "It's a big party where mummy looks really tired and runs around a lot, we go to lots of houses and and we get boxes. Daddy isn't allowed to drive, only mummy can, and it goes on for days."
TWIN 2: "Yay, Nanny's house ... Mummy chases us around all day here!"
TWIN 1: "Yes but she takes a LOT of things away from us :("
TWIN 2; "Look at the indoor tree though! It's like the ones at the park but sparkly!!! GRAB IT!"
TWIN 1: "No, wait - look there's loads of boxes underneath to unwrap!"
TWIN 2: "They might have toys in. For us!"
TWIN 1: "So what? Boxes are way more fun. Get that wrapping off, get in the box and I'll ram you into that tree!"
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