So that’s it, Christmas is well and truly over…although I can’t help noticing a few twinkling lights still about on my journeys home from work, obviously people trying to hold on to that last remaining shred of happiness that the holiday season brought, and I can’t say I blame them. For most, Christmas was one of the only times during ‘the Year that shall not be named’ that actually brought some positivity, with many putting their decs up as early as October! And why not? What else was there to look forward to? We’d already been denied our birthdays, Mother’s Day, Easter, Trick or treating and other events we would usually enjoy with family and friends, so many jumped at the chance to bring a touch of magic into their lives as early as possible, us included.
Come the middle of November, we had gathered our many boxes and bags full of Christmas tat out of the loft, and began the fun, albeit stressful at times, task of sprinkling the house with our festive flare and finishing touches! all of this was done with the brilliant movie ‘Nativity’ playing on the TV (which we have seen many times before so was perfect as a background film).
We had gone even brighter than before with lights around all of our windows, and had treated ourselves to a new Christmas tree (one that wasn’t going to fall over this year!!) Char also surprised me with the biggest poinsettia ever, delivered from M&S much to my absolute delight. My kitchen wouldn’t be complete without my favourite festive plant, so to receive one that was easily 5 times the size of the our usual purchase made me very happy indeed, and I can tell you it’s still going strong now!
We even got a new floating shelf this year that acted as a mantelpiece in our lounge, that we were able to decorate with a garland, pinecones and berries, and I also made a beautiful wreath for our front door, complete with Mickey Mouse lights and a dusting of snow spray. I tell you, it’s amazing how much we were actually able to accomplish ourselves, on account of suddenly having all the time in the world…silver linings and all that!
Our house completely sparkled, it was beautiful to us, and if you didn’t know better you’d think that all was right in the world outside, and that’s exactly how we liked it.
Of course the festive period wouldn’t be complete without our additional family member who visits for the holidays, Sprout! Finley’s Elf on the shelf always brings extra happiness and glad tidings of great comfort and joy, and this year he was an even more welcomed distraction, no matter how much mischief he got up to…although this year he behaved himself a lot better than years gone by, I guess he’s growing up and knows how far he can push us!
The day Sprout arrived he surprised Finley with an Escape Room around the whole house (very apt) complete with puzzles and riddles that Finley had to solve, with the last box finally revealing Sprout. Finley really enjoyed it, and always loves it when Sprout, his best friend comes to stay.
Sprout is usually full of lots of surprises, and this year he was very clever and enrolled the help of Mama P Bakes to supply an Elf on the shelf arrival box, full of personalised treats especially for Finley, which even included elf sized goodies. This was such a magical touch, and we thoroughly recommend Mama P Bakes for all your sweet treats and baking needs, suitable for any occasion. Check out her Facebook Page here!
Now usually we have many Christmas outings booked, and festive frolics to look forward to, but unfortunately this pandemic had other ideas. But all was not lost, it actually forced us to be creative during the Christmas season….something we are more than use to, and it took us back to basics making us really appreciate being together as a family.
We were lucky enough to get out on one Christmas outing, and that was to the Milestones Museum, to enjoy a walk through the streets of a Victorian Christmas. Obviously this outing was arranged by Sprout (he’s so good to us) and so he enjoyed coming along for the trip too. And do you know what, despite having to wear our masks out (something I don’t think anyone particularly enjoys) it was a really lovely couple of hours.
The museum was understandably quiet, however it was completely COVID secure, with hand sanitising stations dotted about, and various attractions closed for safety reasons. This did not, however take away anything from our visit which we thoroughly enjoyed. We just loved stepping back into a bygone era, with the old fashioned shops and traditional Christmas trees around every corner we turned.
We had an audio guide which Finley especially enjoyed, where he could type in the numbers at various exhibits to find out information, which he happily relayed to us. We also completed a Christmas trail where we had to try and spot the Rudolph teddies hidden around the museum,
and we also enjoyed something sweet at the beautiful vintage tea shop.
Our experience was great fun, we all got right into the seasonal spirit, and even got to say hello to the big man himself.
All in all a fantastic visit that’s very worthwhile, and we look forward to returning when things are relatively back to normal, and we can enjoy some of the attractions that weren’t in operation, such as the penny arcade and visiting the toy shop. I actually came away feeling like I could have lived during that period, a simpler way of life, although I’m well aware not without it’s troubles itself. But then that’s the thing about nostalgia, it makes you feel as if everything was better back then, and with what we are going through currently, it’s not surprising that a day out here makes you wish that things could go back to the way they were.
One thing I truly missed though was going to a pantomime, something we did last year no less than 3 times!! I absolutely love the theatre, and we all really enjoy the thrill of a Christmas Panto, so when I saw that Peter Duncan was organising an online Panto, which was filmed in his very own back garden, I excitedly purchased our early bird tickets, and looked forward to being able to enjoy a pantomime after all, even if it was from the comfort of our own home, and it certainly didn’t disappoint! Jack and the beanstalk had everything, from singing and dancing to hilarious jokes (some that thankfully go straight over kids heads) baddies and goodies, and even a cow. It was laugh out loud fun, and had us booing and hissing, and cheering along to our hearts content. So much effort had clearly gone into this production, and it was worth every penny, plus once purchased we were able to watch an unlimited amount of times until it ended, a time that has now been extended until the end of February. So get Booking now if you want to chase away the January blues, you won’t regret it.
Every year we choose a theme for our Christmas, as silly as it is, and this year what with Char being Dolly mad, we chose a Smoky Mountain Christmas. I got Char the Dolly Christmas album, as well as some red tartan Pj bottoms as a pre-Christmas gift, and we made table decorations for the main event, which included winter scene decoupaged tiles, and rustic wooden slice personalised pebble robins. We got pillar candles and made a beautiful centrepiece with pinecones and berries, and Char perfected the art of napkin folding, where she created poinsettias, and cutlery holders, so our table was going to look the bees knees. We didn’t bother this year with a dress code, and I didn’t design fancy menus that we’d usually hand out to our guests…everything just seemed so up in the air and we weren’t completely sure if we’d even be together on the day, so it was hard to get excited and some things just had to give. Fingers crossed that all of that will resume next Christmas though.
Christmas Eve came, Finley received his Christmas Eve Box, complete with new pjs (ready for him to look good in his ‘opening presents on Christmas morning’ pics) some hot choc, a Christmas dvd called bone alone – bit of a dodgy title but it’s ok, it’s actually just a doggy version of home alone, and also not forgetting the special key for Santa to be able to enter our house, and some reindeer food to guide them along their way.
The Christmas Eve box also inevitably brought with it a few tears from Finley, as it’s the day that Sprout has to leave us, and a letter had been left with the box reminding Finley so.. It was bittersweet after over a month of mischief, gifts and hugs (which were allowed this year on account of it being an unusual year, and so hugs from an Elf were very much needed!) but saying goodbye also meant that Santa would have been to fill up the stocking and drop off presents, before Picking up Sprout in his sleigh to escort back to the North Pole. Tears dried, it was now time to enjoy our day, which consisted of prepping veg, listening to Christmas tunes, watching Christmas movies and decorating gingerbread cookies.
This is also the day where we traditionally visit our local church, for the glorious Christingle service. Although not regular church goers, the prospect of not being able to attend this event filled me with great sadness, however as with a lot of things this year, the church were kind enough to run this event virtually, and even supplied schools with kits for the kids to make their very own Christingles. So armed with his orange, candle, and 4 cocktail sticks with marshmallows stuck on the ends (to represent all of God’s creations/4 seasons) Finley and us settled down in front of the screen to enjoy this much Loved service, where we sang along to the carols, enjoyed the stories and prayers, turned the lights out and lit the candle on our Christingle – had tears when Finley dripped a bit of hot wax on his hand (thank goodness we had the luxury of the pause button this year!!) and then finally we all came together to sing an absolute fav of mine, Come and join the celebration. So we didn’t get to spend this event as we usually would with our friends and family, and a packed out church full of excited children, providing a wonderful, jolly atmosphere, but this was lovely all the same and we were thankful to St Christopher’s Church for enabling us to enjoy this annual tradition.
Finley’s bedtime was drawing near, and it was time to set out a mince pie, a homemade gingerbread biscuit and some milk for Father Christmas, and a carrot for Rudolph too. We popped the key on the front door, and Finley generously scattered the reindeer food all over our lawn. Now to settle one very tired, and beside himself with excitement, little boy down to sleep – which was actually easier said than done, as he spent most of the night freaking himself out about Santa coming into our house. The fact we had been tracking him earlier in the day hadn’t helped matters, as he seemed to wake up every hour asking “Where is he now, is he near?!” which obviously didn’t make for a great night sleep for me & Char, and so when the 6am wake up call came, I can tell you it wasn’t completely welcomed. It’s a good job then that we were both super excited too, and actually couldn’t wait to see the look on Finley’s face when he opened the gifts from Santa and us, and enjoy a special day surrounded by our nearest and dearest.
So the main event came, and it was as magical as ever. Finley called out when it was still dark outside, and ran into us all bleary eyed with his stocking, beaming from ear to ear with happiness that “he’s been!”
Finley is so lucky, and was grateful for everything he opened. As well as the stocking he had 3 lovely presents from Santa, and then a pile of gifts from us. And his main present, a hoverboard go-kart definitely got the reaction we were hoping for. It was a complete hit, and provided much hilarity on the day with family members having a go – mainly unsuccessfully! Finley has since mastered his go-kart to perfection, although we realise we have only encouraged a lazy walker, on account of us having to take it with us whenever we take the dog out! He loves it though, and that’s all that matters to us.
Christmas Day was perfect, we were all very lucky with our gifts that we exchanged – with a few joke presents chucked in too, and we all had such a fun time together.
The Christmas lunch was delicious, I don’t mind saying myself, and the make-ahead stuffing roll, braised cabbage, and truly scrumptious gravy was well worth whipping up back in November, as it really took a lot of the stress out and gave us extra special accompaniments on the day. We had the lot, sprouts with bacon and chestnuts, pigs in blankets, cauli-cheese, swede and carrot, roast pots, Yorkshire puds and all that jazz.
We even started with cocktails and canapés, you know to try and prep our stomachs for the mountain of food that was to come! Our table looked superb, even if it was a bit of a squeeze, and our table gifts were well received. We spent the whole day eating, laughing, enjoying games, eating some more and generally being merry. It was lovely and we couldn’t have asked for a better day. Of course there were family members we were unable to get together with as we usually would, and they were sorely missed, but hopefully this would all be for the greater good.
We also can’t forget our gorgeous boy Ozzy, who arrived into our home during the first Lockdown. We so enjoyed our first Christmas with him, and he loved being spoilt with treats and presents, all of which didn’t take him long to destroy…but we wouldn’t have him any other way!
We count our blessings that we were spared from going into tier 4, meaning we wouldn’t have been able to spend the day with any of our loved ones, which would have made for a very different day altogether. Thankfully we were able to enjoy the day with both of our families all together, and for that I will always be thankful. Our hearts went out to those having to spend it alone, I can’t imagine how they must have felt.
The days in between were spent enjoying our new gifts – I received no less than 3 cookery books so I was most content sitting on my sofa with chocolates in one hand, and a load of mini post-it’s in the other, ready to mark pages of recipes I will enjoy creating throughout the new year. We also enjoyed endless amounts of leftovers, and cheese & crackers galore, and I think we exhausted our list of Christmas movies, old and new to watch.
The days merged into one, and before we knew it we were at New Years Eve, with not a lot to celebrate. I actually worked for a few hours that day, the first day since 22nd December, so it had been a lovely break. Then upon returning home, after playing some party games with Finley we actually put him to bed at his normal time, and much to his surprise (even though he’d requested it especially) Sprout made a special appearance. (yes, again! Well it was a special occasion, and it had made Finley feel better by asking him to return on NYE, when he was saying goodbye on Christmas Eve!) Sprout was waiting on his bed, with a letter wishing him a Happy New Year, saying he was going to stay for the weekend before Finley returned to school, and then he really must go to the North Pole to start preparing for next Christmas! This made Finley very happy, and he wasn’t bothered in the slightest that he wouldn’t be staying up until midnight. This way he got a good night sleep, and we were able to enjoy a night on zoom with our family, playing bingo, a Christmas quiz and some fun minute to win it games. We also enjoyed a buffet for 2, with even more party food….god I was craving greens by the end of this!
We said our goodbyes about 11.45pm, and Char and I put on the pre-recorded Disney castle fireworks on Facebook, to see in the New Year. Disney makes everything better, and with the amount of fireworks that were going off around our neighbourhood, it almost felt like we were there! In fact they were so loud that they actually woke Finley up, so a very sleepy boy then joined us downstairs until the noise eventually subsided.
And so here we are, 2021 and not a lot has changed. We’ve been thrown into a third Lockdown, schools are closed (except for Keyworkers children) and we are unable to see our friends and family yet again, but on the plus side there’s only 332 days until Christmas, and it’s never too early to start planning.
Wishing you all a healthy and Happy New Year!
“Christmas will always be as long as we stand heart to heart and hand in hand” ~ Dr. Seuss
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