For those of you who've followed me for a while you will know that in the past I've been an "I hate Christmas" type of person. For various reasons Christmas was always a stressful time of year for me. Partly because working in a Catholic primary school means Christmas is pretty much forced upon you very early but mainly because the last few years have been hard due to the deterioration of my Mum's health. Consequently I was always burying my head in the sand and trying to pretend Christmas wasn't coming so that I ended up doing everything at the last minute and giving myself even more stress. Last year was the first year without Mum so that made it all a bit sad and I was still doing it all last minute.
This year was different. Maybe because the stress of hosting Christmas was taken away - we all went to Nick's sister's house in Brentwood. Also we were having our youngest son's girlfriend here from America so I couldn't really be a grinch. But mostly I think because I felt I could look forward to Christmas without the guilt of enjoying myself while Mum was being taken care of by other people, or just not there anymore.
So yes I think the emotional fog is lifting and as it lifts it's slightly scary to see just how thick and dense it has been.
Christmas was lovely! And I wasn't doing everything quite at the last minute. Lots of presents were ordered in advance online. Cards were written and despatched quite early - no need for any 1st class stamps this year and the overseas ones will hopefully have arrived in time too. (Many years I've been considering swapping them for New Year cards as I've posted them after the deadline date!)
Although we were dining out there were still some things to be done so Christmas morning was a bit hectic. We were asked to cook and take a turkey with us, plus a tray of canopes and broccoli. Trying to fit all that in with church, picking up Rebecca and her partner and present opening was a challenge. But let me tell you, enough broccoli for 35 leaves a lingering smell in the car!
One thing I didn’t plan in advance was freezer space for the turkey. I happened to be out shopping one evening and saw that the supermarket had lots of frozen turkeys but only a few really large ones. I decided to get one while I could. Driving home I was a little concerned about whether I had space in my freezer. Well I did – just! I had to take the bottom drawer out and just cram the turkey in the space. I advised my husband of this telling him he would need to be careful when opening the freezer in case the turkey jumped out at him. His response was that he hoped not as it was supposed to be dead!
It was a lovely day though with so many of the extended family together. 39 of us, four generations sat down to dinner. It was a little cramped but the food was actually hot – a bit of a feat considering the logistics but we work well together.
One of the highlights of the day was after dinner we had present opening – we had done a secret santa so that we all had something to open and our host Martin dressed up as Father Christmas. He was quite inebriated by this time and complete with a split in his pants he had us in stitches!
Karaoke completed the day and then most of us crashed out to grab some sleep before starting all over again on Boxing Day. Being one of the older siblings has its advantages as it guaranteed us a bed. The youngsters had to haggle for the sofas and floor space.
After a cooked breakfast some of the more energetic people went out for a walk. We then had a late lunch of turkey broth plus other leftovers. It was a lovely relaxed day.
All in all definitely a Christmas to remember.