As I was looking back on this blog, I noticed how little I have posted this year about Christmas. So here is my Christmas post for 2018 to be a little record of our Christmas celebrations. Reflecting now, I realise the big emotional impact on what happened to my Father in law late last Christmas eve when he was taken very poorly at our house and was rushed to hospital, it was an incredibly scary 24 hours. I now understand that I needed this Christmas to be a happy, peaceful time to stop the feeling of dread, worry and panic from last year. Fortunately, we achieved this and I also got a new happy memory for late Christmas eve, the news of my friend’s new baby boy. We are off to visit Grandad tomorrow for a few days as although recovered he is frailer and its easier for us to go to him than vice versa.
This Christmas has been my daughter’s last at primary school. I’ve been warned that the secondary school does not have as many parent events so I’ve been enjoying every opportunity to share Christmas with her. She sings (beautifully) in the school choir so I managed through a few favours at work to see every public performance. There was a private performance at the old people’s home and I got a special message on how kind she had been to the residents, I was very proud. There is one song which really stands out this year, a new carol, Love Shone Down, its got an encore every time and within the song, Little Miss and a friend sang a verse together that made everyone tingle.
As well as lots of carol services, I’ve also done a couple of Christingle services, one was where the school choir performed, the second for the cubs. One of my special memories is everyone making a circle around one of the churches and in darkness, holding our lit candles, it was a moment of reflection and peace. The cubs service was also a candlelit service, there were around 200 real candles burning and it looked so beautiful in the church. I do believe that the religious and spiritual message should always be part of our celebrations. The childrens school carol service was another joyful celebration, it started with the story of the nativity and then developed into some of our Christmas customs. Little Miss’ class sang ‘Starry Night’ and Little Man’s ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’
We did two new events this year. The first, we went to a big town for their winter wonderland where in the central park they had one hundred trees all lit and decorated. It was stunning and awe inspiring, I have so many amazing photos and really they still don’t reflect the beauty and atmosphere from the evening. I really hope that the town does it again next year as it was definitely the most Christmassy and fun thing we did this year (and free!!) I also got tickets to see the Snowman with a live orchestra. The first half wasn’t so suitable for my two as it was a musical version of Little Red Riding Hood and a bit young for them. However the Snowman was brilliant, we were all transfixed by it, the live orchestra make it something special and the soloist was perfect for Walking on the Air, I had all the festive feels when we left. I would definitely try to see it again with the live orchestra (although I might skip act 1)
We have also done our old favourite activities this December. The Christmas tree festival is the perfect way to start Christmas and as usual the church was full with other 40 trees. Whilst I am proud of our school’s tree, my favourite was so simple and beautiful, a tree dressed in red with handmade poppies and the name of the 99 local soldiers who died in World War 1. After the solemnness of the commemoration of November, it just felt really right that they were at the centre of this joyful celebration. The children enjoyed spending their pocket money at the town’s Christmas market which is so festive and a real community event, although incredibly windy this year. The school where I work had a stall this year and we sold some delightfully crafted wooden plaques the students had made. As from previous posts, Tommy the elf returned and showed once again that he is one of our favourite new traditions. We made our gingerbread decorations and again, this is something which started off as just a fun activity to do on our first Christmas but on the children’s insistence has become an integral part of our Christmas. Its also one of those Christmas photos I have from every year to chart the passing years. On Christmas eve we tracked Santa on Norad, this is so emotional and magical for me, the children in new pyjamas, showered and cuddly, talking about their hopes and wishes, its one of those emotions you want to bottle for those tough days. Whilst Little Miss is beginning to question Santa she still believes and I think that this was our final Christmas of such magic as she’ll be at secondary school next Christmas. I am grateful that it lasted this long and we got 9 Santa Christmases. Personally, I still believe.
At home, I decorated the house throughout. I concluded that I prefer making the little tableaux around the house than the main tree. I’m not sure what it was about our tree this year, new position, fake rather than real, the childrens’ paper chains but I didn’t get the wow factor from it as I like. I think its time to sort out the decorations for next year and perhaps a new fresh tree. I loved the wreath, again another make from my students at school.
This has been a Christmas to create new memories to counter the scary ones from last year. Christmas day was just the four of us, with our neighbours popping over to see the children and exchanging gifts, a delicious meal, family games and then when everyone had gone to bed Call the Midwife which I sobbed through! On Boxing day, we walked down to the prom to watch the Boxing day swim and then welcomed my cousin in the afternoon whilst Mr S followed the boxing day football. It was just perfect for us.