The first day of winter has finally arrived; as the weather has been particularly mild, there was no glistening frost to greet the dawn, although as we started the day in Yorkshire, it may have been a different story in Cumbria (though I doubt it).
Before we headed off, to celebrate an early Christmas with grandparents, we finally got around to making our second wreath for the barn. It turned out that the boy did notice I had made the first wreath without them, about which he was a bit sulky, and so we agreed we would all make the second one together.
This time we had an oasis base for the wreath, so it was much more time consuming to get it all covered, and it didn’t take long for the kids to get bored of being prickled by the pile of holly, and they decided a go on the swing was more fun (although not until the girl had nearly knocked the boys teeth out a few times, pushing the swing wildly about, whilst screeching like a banshee).
Compared to the other wreath, this one was definitely a labour of love; it took a couple of hours to get it totally covered in a mixture of pine, ivy and holly greenery, and then it was embellished with ivy seed heads, holly and hawthorn berries.
When it was finally finished the kids decreed it to be “beeeaaaauuu-ti-ful” and seemed happy that their early poking around in the pile of clippings counted as being involved in its making. So a win all round.
The early Christmas celebration meant that the kids have been thoroughly overexcited – as children tend to be at this time of year – and I have, more than once, threatened to bar the elves, bearing early presents, from the house. The dream of Christmas is always that of children with faces aglow with the magic of it all “oohing” and “aahing” over the gifts they gratefully receive; the reality is of the presents being ripped open and tossed aside ready to start the assault on the next gift, whether it be theirs or not. There were arguments and tantrums, but it wouldn’t be Christmas without them (coming from a family of four children, I remember the festive battles all too well), but we all had a lovely time celebrating with the people we love. Which, afterall, is really what it is all about.
The car journeys there and back were as excruciating as we’ve come to expect, the obsession about whether we’re on the A66 yet, when (exactly) we will be on the A66, how long (exactly) we’ll be on the A66 for, and when (exactly) we’ll be turning off the A66. The toys brought along for the ride did little to curb the curiosity as each one was tossed aside after approximately 2 minutes, and the next demanded. The chocolates were gulped down, and demanded, in a similarly speedy style. But thankfully we all survived the journeying without too many arguments – I even got a “well done” from J for not reacting to the boy screeching “Come aboard the conker” (his version of Black Lace – Do the Conga) in demonic fashion for what felt like hours, but was more probably a VERY long two minutes, before his voice gave out.
But now normality, whatever that is, has resumed – we have returned to the barn, checked the chickens (grumpy, as their incarceration continues – although they do all seem to be getting on better), released the cats to resume prowling the perimeter, and are back to deal with the final festive preparations. There’s still a huge pile of presents to wrap – the manoeuvring of a pirate ship to its final docking place, on Christmas Eve to figure out (and how to make sure the kids don’t catch a glimpse of it before Christmas morning dawns) and the big Christmas food shop to do in the morning before my mum and stepdad arrive. We also still have the English Port to get around to finish off making, as it’s been fermenting for nearly two weeks now, and J is supposed to be bottling his latest homebrew (we’re both disappointed this hasn’t already happened, him as it won’t be ready for Christmas, and me as it means beer will have to be paid for as part of the Christmas shop).
So it’s going to be a busy week at the barn; my liver and waistline are already sobbing at the thought of the overindulgence to come – and looking forward to a sober, and more sensible eating, January. But before we get there, there’s definitely going to be plenty of eating, drinking and being merry, because Christmas is, a little bit, about that too.