Christmas has finally landed at the barn. J and I have been Christmas addicts since long before the kids came along; we would decorate the house whilst listening to Christmas CDs and quaffing sherry, and we’d watch festive films whilst gorging ourselves on Quality Street. Post children, this hasn’t really changed, except the sherry gets drunk after they’ve gone to bed, and the chocolates are hidden away until nearer the big day (although this is more due to my expanding waistline than the presence of the kids). We also don’t get to watch as many festive films, they are on as the kids love them, but between accompanied toilet trips, cooking meals and dozing off at the one chance to sit down, we only end up watching snippets of each film (although we did treat ourselves to The Santa Clause after the kids were in bed last night).
We always used to say that our last house was made for Christmas, it really came into its own when festooned with tiny lights and evergreen garlands, and it was something we worried about when we moved into the barn. It’s a bigger house and doesn’t have the cosy cottage feel of the last one – but we needn’t have worried (though J now claims he always knew this would be a good Christmas house). We put the decorations up on Friday and the beams are now decked in the evergreen garlands, the stairs provide a handy spot to hang the stockings from, and there is even room for TWO full sized trees. We are in our tinsel-tastic element (well, lameter actually, although in our house it’s called Linekar, the reasons for which have been lost to the mists of time).
Pre-children, the cats would help with the decorations; one year when taking down the tree we found a dried up shrew hidden amongst the branches, and they used to regularly knock the wooden decorations off, breaking many of them, which meant we ended up with a weird Tim Burton-esque tree full of beheaded angels, one legged Santas, and dead rodents. Post-children, the kids now like to help with the tree. In my imaginings this would provide me with a lovely glow, as we all stand around the tree “oohing” and “aahing” at its beauty, as baubles are lovingly placed upon the branches. In reality the kids try to eat the several year old candy canes, and unwrap the decorations that look like little presents, whilst I try to wrestle them out of their grasp. When I do try to restrain my inner control freak, and allow them to place a bauble on the tree, within minutes I’ll have moved it to somewhere more aesthetically pleasing whilst they are looking the other way. I am not proud of myself, but I do like a well arranged tree and even J, after many years of nagging, can still not tell the difference between the right and wrong way to hang a bauble (it doesn’t nestle in the branches, it dangles so it can turn, gently, in the lights).
We have not yet braved actually putting any presents under the tree, as within seconds we know there will be the telltale ripping noise and shouts of “He / She did it!!” and I will go on a tirade of how Santa won’t be stopping at the barn this year, no doubt ending with a “harrumph”. There would be tears and tantrums giving way to a sulky silence. Then, within minutes, the ripping sound would start afresh.
To add to the festive jolliness, I also made the Christmas pudding this weekend (with the yellowest of yellow eggs from ours and our neighbours’ chooks)
and this is now stored away, ready to be lit up with brandy on the big day. Whilst that was steaming away we made gingerbread men with the kids, this was the usual debacle of them eating dry flour (why, just why??) and trying to get them to understand basic anatomy…”And where does a mouth go again?” But they turned out much better than imagined and are actually edible…in fact the raw mix was so good I gave myself a bad stomach demolishing it, like someone who had never seen food before. There is still much planning to do, a scary amount of presents left to buy, but all in all I think it’s safe to say that it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…I just need to forget about the Baileys and chocolates for a few more weeks.