Since I last blogged, almost a fortnight ago, December madness has taken over. We put up the decorations early for us – first week in December – and since then keeping the kittens from eating, climbing or systematically dismantling the Christmas tree has become a pretty much full-time occupation in itself.
We’ve been pretty organised with present-buying this year, so much so that we don’t really believe it – we’re just waiting for 3pm on Christmas Eve to either a) remember an entire branch of the family we haven’t bought for, or b) for Anna to change her mind about what she wants from Father Christmas. Present wrapping, luckily, is a Husband Job. I’m hopelessly inartistic, not to mention impatient, and so having to go ten rounds with the sellotape and wrapping paper usually results in extremely bad language at the very least, and, depending on the alignment of the stars, how much sleep I’ve had and where I am in my menstrual cycle, can escalate into outright violence at worst. As a result of this, the divide up of marital workload means that for the past few years I’ve only had to manage to wrap my husband’s. Which, if sufficient chocolate is consumed before and during, is just about manageable.
I’ve been doing large amounts of Christmas baking as well – cranberry mince pies for us, brownies to take as a party gift, reindeer cookies for Anna’s school party, Christmas Rocky Road for husband’s colleagues, Christmas cake which was a bit late in the making but is now wrapped up in layers of foil awaiting its first feed of brandy. There’s even more planned for later this week as Anna is having a little Christmas tea party with a few of her friends from school. I did something similar last year, but hadn’t been planning to repeat it until Anna happened to mention casually that it had been her favourite part of last Christmas. Cue maternal guilt trip and some hasty texting to arrange a suitable day.
In between baking, shopping, wrapping, kitten disciplining and party planning I’ve been looking after a poorly daughter, and existing on very little sleep as I have to keep getting up to administer probably-more-than-the-legal-limit of cough mixture several times a night. She’s loads better now, but I feel like I’m engaged in permanent anti-germ warfare. There’s so many treats we’re all looking forward to in the run up to Christmas, not to mention the day itself, and it seems like everyone we know is ill, probably with different bugs. I was so thankful last week that Anna had (just about) recovered enough to go into school for the day of her Christmas Show. She was a reindeer, and had been avidly practising her songs for weeks – including my top tip for Christmas Number One, the Reindeer Hokey Cokey. Of course, inevitably, I welled up as soon as the plinky plonk school piano struck up the first notes and the nursery children started singing, only managing to pull myself together briefly to return the kiss blown to me by a certain little reindeer. John Lewis really don’t need to spend a small fortune and employ a top director to tug our heartstrings in their Christmas ad – footage from any Reception parent’s camcorder would do the trick just as well.
And tonight, after juggling taking daughter to a playdate and picking up post-neutered kittens from the vets, it’s time to let my hair down with fellow labourers at the coalface of modern motherhood, aka my NCT group. Nearly five years on we’ve all survived, as have our children (in fact all the others have done the whole thing again in the meantime). The weekly five hour long meet ups where we discussed every last detail of feeding, sleeping and pooing are a thing of the past now, and our lives have gone in different directions – some back at work full-time, some part-time, some stay-at-home mums and one new business start-up, not to mention the women who won’t be there tonight because they’ve defected from London living entirely, but it will be great to have a glass or three of wine and a proper catch up. One of the big disadvantages for me of being a stay-at-home mum and writer is the lack of colleagues and office gossip, so tonight is my alternative Christmas works night out.