This year we have been faced with the challenge of having three Christmases, after each year we’ve previously spent apart or darting between houses; so this time we agreed that we would spend one day at home and one with each of our parents. Boy oh boy what a task! Christmas day in itself is so intense, so rich with food and exciting with presents, surely one day a year is more than enough for the average family? Not us! We’re gluttons for overkill and have well and truly taken every festive ounce of spirit to the extreme this year, so we could now do with a month-long detox to get over it. But it’s been an experience and a half and something we will never forget!
Luca was working Christmas Eve and Millie was visiting her grandparents, so we decided in the early evening that we would have our own miniature Christmas at home with just Luca, the children and I. I didn’t get to cook a Christmas dinner, and we didn’t pull crackers or sing songs, but in the hour or so that we did have together when everyone had finally returned home, we sat and opened our presents from one another and nestled up on the sofa to watch a DVD before bedtime and it was lovely. It’s the first year that I haven’t cooked a Christmas dinner, or woken Millie up on Christmas morning to rush down the stairs and open her presents; it’s also our first year as a family of four and our most unstructured ever. Ha!
Millie and Gabriele loved their ‘brother and sister’ furby’s, clothes, toys and books and made short work of the wrapping paper and packaging that rained chaos on our lounge. It was a little sad that it had to be so rushed and we didn’t get time to sit and enjoy each present and play with everything, which I think is all part of the magic of Christmas to take time out together, but hopefully we can come back to them all in a few days time instead and rediscover them all over. When we put the children to bed after, I packed the bags for Christmas morning so that we could wake up and get straight into the car to go to Luca’s parents for Christmas number two!
So Christmas number two and after flapping around the house like a scene out of Home Alone when they’re rushing to the airport on time, we finally arrived at Luca’s parents and the real Christmas began because it was Christmas morning. We had a lovely breakfast, dinner and treats throughout the day and night; fantastic presents and gifts on the tree, stockings, table gifts and oodles of family and festivities and it was absolutely lovely. Everything that I love about Christmas all wrapped up into one.
Unfortunately mid-way through song, Millie’s beloved pink and purple furby went to visit baby Jesus in the sky and refused to come back to us, and after Luca tinkered with a screwdriver and fresh batteries we resigned her to her box ready to return on Boxing Day when the shops opened.
Come nine in the evening we drove home with blinking eyelids and an actual suitcase full of presents, bags, boxes, toys and the usual family-of-four-handbags-and-baby-changing as well. And after literally crawling up the stairs on our hands and knees we managed to deposit the presents to the top of the stairs before falling asleep.
And then the alarm rang out for Christmas number three! Boxing day at our parents and we were due over for twelve. So as we had an extra three hours to spare today we headed into town to resurrect Millie’s furby and buy a new cooker. And when we got to Argos things were not looking good, as I had bought her special pink and purple furby in October -yes I like to plan in advance!- to ensure that she had her favourite colour, but now they were all sold out, and as the assistant checked off code after code from the catalogue and told of tales about travelling to distant stores some thirty-miles away to go and collect a new one on Boxing Day I attempted to soothe Millie’s breaking heart with a new Hello Kitty watch from the display cabinet that we were stood beside, and she was over the moon; only for another assistant to suddenly appear with a pink and teal SUPER FURBY! Wow! And it only went and matched her fluorescent pink Princess tracksuit she was wearing that her grandparents had got for her the day before!
Thankfully we had an hour left to look for a cooker and make our way to my parents so we headed to Curry’s and had a look around. And our quest proved fruitless when the staff informed us we’d be better off looking online as they only had one cooker which vaguely matched our needs but not quite: A-class for energy, stainless steel, electric… I can see how it’s a tough category to fill!? So as we were amongst the shops we headed to TKMaxx to have a trouser browse and then I came across it, my tree!
I have been killing houseplants for the best part of twenty-five years now and I have no idea how I do it. I can somehow keep them beautiful and alive in bloom for two or three years and then suddenly my whole house wipes out at once and I’m left with yellowed, drooping and crispy messes and they all go to live in the railway sleeper bed outside but never come back. Peace lilies, bonsai’s, roses, yuccas, palms, ornamental hedges, none of them have survived. I always buy well-established plants at around £30.00 each so I know that they’re strong, but it doesn’t make a difference. I just can’t keep plants alive. So I’d been researching artificial trees for the past year at least and I know what I’m looking for and what they’re worth. I also know what I need it to look like in the home and where it will be living (or not!) in an attempt to fill the pot of its predecessors.
So when I saw my tree I instantly knew that I had to have it. And it was the exact same moment that Luca instantly knew that he didn’t want to be shopping with me and his arms were hurting from holding Gabriele. And after having a bicker with Luca in front of sales staff as to how and why I would buy this tree and attempt to take it home, I was a woman fuelled by naysayers and would bring it back in an arc if I had to, either way it was coming home.
And Luca stood over me holding the children in the car park with a raised eyebrow and a provocative “That will never work” ringing from his tongue which only spurred my determination to fit a 7.5ft tree into my five-door Fiesta with two child seats in the back, a Chihuahua, Luca and I and a boot filled with presents and bags to take to my parents. Yes I huffed, and yes I puffed and yes I worked a miracle in our single parking space pinned closely between two cars with a tree that was rigid, long, tall and well crowned, but by some kind of divine intervention I got it in, with the kids, the dog, the presents and Luca and we drove home with our knees up to our chins to drop the tree off at home before heading to my parents. Never tell a woman at the Boxing Day sales that she can’t have her tree!
And after arriving a mere fourteen minutes later than anticipated, we had a lovely Christmas number three with my parents. Food throughout the day, presents, party games, films, drinks and nibbles and treats, and the children loved it. And it was everything that I had felt as a child growing up, being at home again with my parents for Christmas, the perfect way to round off our mammoth three-days of celebrations.
Gabriele had his first Christmas dinner, courtesy of our baby blender. Millie taught her furby number two AKA Dizzy how to be a rockstar. Luca and my brother talked about cars and sound systems and we all played an entertaining quiz. Mum and Dad fed us like it really was the last day on earth, and Joey our Chihuahua was jumping hoops to have eaten so much turkey. On the way home Millie slept like an angel in the car and Gabriele peeked a little nose and big eyes out from his fluffy nest of blankets as he looked at the stars and lights from his car window. It was just magical and perfect and everything we could have ever asked for.
We are now absolutely shattered, we’ve eaten more Christmas dinners than a restaurant serves in a season, have more presents than we physically know where to put them, and have the biggest and silliest grins on our faces that we may need cheek bandages in the morning. But it has been a lovely Christmas and one that we shall never forget, the perfect way to welcome our new family of four!
Although I’m not sure we could do the same next year as repeating Christmas three times over is so exhausting and over indulgent I literally want to lick salad leaves for the rest of my life now. Once a year is most definitely more than enough and I can’t wait to finally hit the gym after having being ill and slacking off so bad. I just need a single drop of energy from somewhere to keep me going as we’re out visiting again in a couple of hours and totally ignoring the mountain of housework to do at home.
So how did all of your Christmases go? Did you get everything you asked for and what measures do you implement each year when you have so many people to see in such a short space of time? Have you ever had three Christmases and how will we survive next year when Gabriele is running around!? Eek!