Christmas Eve 2016

I’ve been driving everyone demented in the house over the past few weeks, insisting on playing HeartXmas on the radio whenever I’m at home. The unrelenting barrage of Christmas-themed music was surprisingly soothing. Well, to me at least. I’m a grumpy old sod who always, always hates the overly-commercial and overly-long build-up to Christmas. Perhaps after the 12 months I’ve just had, I think I needed a nudge into feeling faintly ridiculous and a bit happy. Even if it’s artificially and commercially produced by silly songs with inane lyrics and cynical producers.

Anyway, I like to sing / screech / croak along to the radio. Not knowing the words or tune has never slowed me down, oh no, I just crack right on with my own version, the ruder the better. Though admittedly that made learning the correct words to their school carol concert a wee bit trickier for my trio than it should have been, but that’s another story… So the minxes were getting fed up with me imitating Bruce Springsteen, moaning about how gravelly and awful his voice was and that his Santa Claus is Coming To Town sounded like more of a huge parody than my send-up of it. I’m not a big fan of his work, to be fair, but do have a very soft spot for Streets of Philadelphia. So I decided to play the girls it, the version at the link. Personally I love the way it sounds like he’s walking along the street, singing it. And I love the sound of his voice in that particular song. However, I didn’t expect the reactions I got from the girls…

dsc_0359 dsc_0361

I guess they’ll not be big fans, then.

 

We had some friends over today for lunch. Their girls are the age of Mini and younger and a real joy to be around. We finished off a huge meal (brisket that had been in the slow cooker for 12 hours and Midi’s best savoury dumplings) with my friend’s delicious pavlova, then emptied an entire can of shaving foam playing Pie Face. Ahhhh, you can’t get kids too hyper on Christmas Eve!

Well, I say that… They were all bouncing off the walls. Properly going bonkers. ‘Unable to speak an entire sentence’ level of excited. I didn’t hold out much hope of them ever getting to bed. Then The Boss had a brilliant idea of breaking out the tubs of gingerbread dough his mum had given them – get them to bake gingerbread biscuits, decorate 7 shades of living hell out of them, then leave them out for Santa. Awesome! I watched the 3 of them slow down, start of concentrate, calm down more and more, get engrossed in their decorating, focusing on their creations. They stopped moaning about my Christmas music radio station and even joined in singing, while me and Mini went all kitsch on this year’s Christmas cake (those blobby things are robins. With their wings and tails outstretched. Of course they are. You see it now, don’t you?)

Santa and Rudolph's treats

Santa and Rudolph’s treats

After a few hours, they were done. I openly admitted how impressed I was with their artwork. I’m sure Santa was, too. So in a fairly calm state, they laid out Santa’s and Rudolph’s snacks, milk and whisky, posed gamely for the annual Christmas Eve photo, said goodbye to Edbie the Elf*, then went to bed without arguing.

Christmas Eve 2016

Christmas Eve 2016

*The elf went back to Santa, of course, leaving a thank you note that included some insults to Elsa, and leaving behind some Santa hats, Christmas joke box and some elf cupcake toppers I found a few months ago.

Around midnight, me and The Boss got out all the minxes’ presents from their hiding places. This year I was smug as a smug thing because I kept an Excel spreadsheet listing everything I’d bought for them, roughly how much it was (so I could make sure they’d roughly the same spent on them, and that I didn’t go overboard), and (crucially) where I’d hidden it.

So there I was, hissing: “Gas Out… Midi… blue ikea bag behind the stripey bag in the wardrobe” like a mad game of Twister to a hapless Boss who was tiptoeing around helping me fetch things. He picked up said Gas Out game and gave it an innocent prod. It came with batteries already fitted. It let out the most massive, long, wet-sounding fart I’ve ever heard that reverberated noisily along the hall. Have you ever tried not to die of laughing silently?! I swear, I lay on the floor outside Midi and Mini’s room, doubled up, dry-snorting about the noise, the terrible timing, and his face looking like a rabbit caught in the headlights. A guilty one. So that nearly started our Christmas morning earlier than we’d planned!

As it was, we first heard the pitter-patter of tiny jack-boots running around to see if Santa had visited just before 4am. I persuaded Mini to snuggle in with me for 20 whole sleepy snoozy minutes before I heard the other pair of tricksters giggling in the hall and gave up. I happily accepted the payback for the past 10 years of post-7am Christmas Day waking. It’s 0420hrs, Santa’s been, and the kids are shrieking and laughing and smiling over their presents – let the festivities commence! Merry Christmas!

So That Was Christmas

I’m writing this on Boxing Day, in a brief 10 min break from a teething 9 month old who weighs a ton (oh ok, 19lb) and who wants to breastfeed and bite me all night.  Her sisters and Daddy are/were asleep.  So that was another Christmas in the Trout household.

Stressful Bits

Christmas Eve – we left it till 10pm to start bringing presents downstairs to make sure no little girls were awake to find our present stash-spot, but thanks to the 9 month old cling-on we didn’t finish till 2am (midnight was the original ETF).  I bickered with The Illogical One who insisted that we wrap everything.  Eh?  But relatives wrap presents to keep them secret until the day, whereas Santa doesn’t have to.  I used logic, he pouted and was disparaging.  I won by suggesting he wrap just as many as he pleased, and that I wouldn’t help.  He was pleased to wrap one for each of the kids, only.  Win.

Funniest Bits

As ever, was the lengths we go to to provide ‘evidence’ of Santa’s visit (like, the presents aren’t enough??).  I nibbled the raw carrot last year, so this year I got the whisky.  Just as well – Maxi Minx had discarded all the pretty, healthy-looking, normal carrots in the fridge in favour of the Lemmy.  This thing was so warty and misshapen I worried about genetic damage to anyone eating it.  As well as the carrot, He-Who-Drew-The-Short-Straw also had to drink the milk.  Which he chose to slurp noisily straight from the bowl.  Without touching it with anything other than his lips.  I was impressed.  And appalled.

Strangest Bits

The turkey was supposed to take 2hrs 20 to cook (we’d gotten the smallest one we could find).  After an hour, Head Chef checked on it and wailed, “The turkey’s cooked!”  Sure enough, the meat thermometer broke the news that the turkey was totally cooked.  And the potatoes were still in their birthday suits, as they were when they left the ground.  We had fun keeping the turkey from drying out while the potatoes were roasted / fried in a vat of goose fat.  Still, it all tasted great!  No Brussels sprouts (which we all love and have been troughing all month) as I guess the snow and ice round here decimated the crop.

Loveliest Bits

Maxi Minx chose a wonderful day to stretch her empathy muscles.  Midi Minx spent the day kicking off and generally behaving the way you expect a 2 year old to when she’s had a breakfast of mincepies and chocolate coins.  And had no exercise and little sleep.  And doesn’t understand sharing (what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine – so gimme that shiny toy!)  So clever 4 year old P showed incredible restraint and empathy in heading L off at the pass, distracting her with other toys.  On a phone call to her grandparents, after excitedly gushing about all her new toys, P asked: “What about you?  Did you have a nice Christmas, Grandma?”  I was so proud of her ability to think about other people I could have burst.

Another lovely bit – the trifle!  I’ve been putting trifle on my list to Santa since I was 6 years old (I was the original greedy minx).  I’ve tried different styles and combinations and flavours, but even now, in my 40th year, I still prefer the old fashioned, traditional strawberry jelly and sponge layer + custard so thick it turns into jelly + whipped cream.  I’m not fussed about sherry.  I’m not bothered by decoration.  P helped me make it on Christmas eve while L and The Boss were out last-minute food shopping.  She sandwiched sponge bits together with as much strawberry jam as she fancied (half a jar…) and I did the hot jelly bits.

Talking of Christmas Eve, another lovely happy bit of Christmas: for once, we all just stopped for half an hour.  P and L sat on their little chairs in front of the laptop; me, The Boss and R sat on the sofa behind them.  We set up CBeebies Aladdin pantomime on iPlayer, the ancient popping corn we found whilst cleaning was made into popcorn, and we troughed it while laughing at silly fun.  It was a really pleasant interlude in the potentially escalating madness of Christmas preparation that let me readjust to what was important and what was trivial, and just enjoy being.

Toys

P got her much-wanted chalks and drew a few masterpieces on her chalkboard.  But the gift she loved most was the Hello Kitty kitchen and extra accessories we Santa got her.  She’s potty about Hello Kitty (“Cyooootee”, she pronounces it) and we’re potty about brainwashing her into enjoying cooking at a young age… (joke).  L spotted her Baby Born doll and has spent every waking moment since first cuddling her either pushing her in the pram to the doctor’s (“baby Ava’s poorly: she gotta sore leg”) or the airport (?!) or changing her nappy.  No, I’ve no idea what the sore leg thing is about, either.  She’s such a responsible little 2 year old mummy, making sure her ‘baby’ has eaten, drank milk and burped before being put back to sleep, and all before (my greedy little) L eats, herself.  Baby R loved the wrapping paper very much.  We chose red shiny stuff for that very purpose!  Her bangle is beautiful, but that was more a memento (silver, with a teensy diamond on one loveheart, a tiny aquamarine on the other, and a soppy and heartfelt inscription inside).  She loves her dancing teddy tower best of all.  The dancing teddy intimidated her at first (she’s not the only one… it’s eerie!), but she likes the microphone, growling along in an imitation of her elder sister’s singing of Improv Death Metal (don’t ask… there’s a video on Facebook if you’re on my friends list and you really, really want to hear it).

So the girls had great fun playing with lots of new toys that they really loved.  Both me and The Boss got a chance to play with them.  The Boss cooked a really yummy dinner (well me and R thought so; P and L were too wound up to eat much).  We got to wish a Merry Christmas to all our immediate relatives, and they were all reasonably well.  No-one was ill, no grown-ups cried, there was far more giggling than whining and far, far more smiles than grimaces.  Therefore, it was a successful, lovely day.