I remember doing the same where we grew up we'd always go out on Christmas Eve and some people would pop into Midnight Mass on the way home too! The other time we all headed home was Carnival week which is in August. It's a fabulous week run by a voluntary committee who put on a ridiculous amount of activities and entertainment from kids kite making workshops and creature hunts on the beach to cocktail evenings and live bands, all squished in one week. It's brilliant and when my kids were small we'd always go 'home' and rent a cottage for a couple of weeks. Some of the locals also take the week off too either because they're helping or there's so much on it's like being on holiday at home. So I'm sure the kids had a great night, there's a half eaten Subway on the kitchen worktop so someone was obviously hungry on the way home. The table is set, most of the food is ready to go, the sofa is swivelled round so they can get to the tree and unwrap pressies, I just need them to wake up!
I've tried to be frugal this Christmas as I'm sure like everyone else too, I'm skint! Not as skint as someone who is homeless or people in war torn countries, I do appreciate that but doing the single Mum thing it is a bit of a stretch sometimes. My Dad said he'd sent a cheque for the kids for £100 and I said 'Great, that'll pay for their lunch!'' But I have split it and given it to them really. There still does seem to be quite a pile under the tree though and the last couple of years the kids have bought me gifts too. We never did the 'pretend' gifts from the kids when they were little or make them 'buy' for each other. If I'd given each child a fiver to buy for all their siblings it would have cost me an extra £60. I like handmade things and when they were little a handmade card was the best thing ever. I knocked up a home made wreath for the front door the other day which is now sagging into more of an oval than a round but hey ho!
I received a parcel in the post earlier in the week (if you followed the Vanessa Vodka Saga below you'll know hers arrived safe and sound too) from my friend Esther. I'd ordered some handmade Christmas decorations from her sister for the kids. I opened the parcel and there were the beautiful hand stitched decs; fat robins, Christmas stocking and reindeer. But there were two other packages too. One tiny one which I opened and it made me cry! It was a pices of pale green worn sea glass with silver wire curled around it and made into a pendant. Weirdly on the windowsill next to me I had a silver chain in a little bag that I didn't know what to do with so the two fitted perfectly. Thank you Esther. The other package had a label on which said 'This has been bought to you by the ancient system of bartering' I had seen Esther's crochet work on facebook - although I have known Esther for many years we live far apart - and she had made some beautiful stripy hats. I had asked her for one and said I didn't want mate's rates, I wanted to pay proper full on price. My sister had seen this comment and had bartered something she had made, I'm guessing a print, so the hat had been made by Esther and 'paid for' by my sister. Honestly I felt such a sense of love and joy at that moment. Proper Chrsirmas spirit in the air.
Later on in the week my mate Sue popped round with her daughter and grandchildren. I met Sue at a Christmas Eve drinks party when my twins were a few weeks old, her girls were 11 and 13 and scooped up the babies and that was that. They used to come down after school and play with them. As they got older they babysat, as they got even older my kids became their bridesmaids and ushers at their wedding and now that 11 and 13 year old and their older sister have seven children of their own so it's like we're going full circle. At the risk of sounding like a disney movie I suppose that is the circle of life. Anyway we had a fabulous morning with Sue and three of the grandchildren; oldest playing a console game with my oldest and the youngest two covering baubles and cardboard bunting in glitter. It was so lovely to have some little children in the house, felt full on festive!
Yesterday my mate Jude popped round for a mince pie and a coffee. She has bought me a present and we don't do presents but we do take the micky out of each other relentlessly so I'm expecting a laugh when I open it.
Later on I have the ex in-laws coming. Mrs Ex In-law loves Christmas and since the ex and I split up we haven't seen them much so I thought I'd get them over. She always makes me a Christmas cake and pudding and the kids love Grandad's sense of humour. I did get a text from the ex a while ago saying 'Do you know my Mum is coming to yours at Christmas?' Well yeees, cos I invited her! We've also got my Mum and her partner too. This year my Mum has started losing her memory which was a shock at first because she's only 70 and a bright, organised spark. Always does the cross words, wins the pub quiz, house is neat and immaculatly organised. But now she can't remember people's names including the Grandkids and many other things but the plus point is she's quite happy. Her old self would have got quite cross about not remembering but this 'new' Mum is really happy and seems very content. So today could be interesting!
Someone asked about Mr S - well we don't live together, he'll be waking up in Bristol waiting for his 3 kids to get up and then he has his parents and nieces and nephews over for lunch. We'll get together on Boxing Day when my kids will see their Dad. It's always a juggle for families at this time of year and compromise is just part of that. The older I get the more I realise it is about the people not the things in life in general. It's about being thankful for what you have got, not what you haven't.
I've seen a few ranting blogs about commercialism and expectations at this time so I've set up a faceyb group called . Handmade Christmas - Keep it Simple I have been photographing things I've made for a Christmas pdf for next year - or it might even be an e-book if I can get my act together! - so started the group to swap ideas and perhaps barter a bit as Kate and Esther did above. If you want to join in go and have a look.
Well the cat is back in and laying on top of the radiator and the kids are still in bed! Have a fabulous day xx