Oh what a December! Oh what a Christmas!
In December, I turned thirty years old. That still feels strange to type – ‘thirty’, ‘I am in my thirties‘ – but my twenties were so much kinder to me than my teens and my childhood, and I am hopeful that my thirties will be the best decade yet. I celebrated quietly and gently; I had asked Kirsty not to make a fuss on the day but my boss and his wife sent flowers and the most beautiful hamper from F&M and we felt so indulged and appreciated. It was wonderful. And then at the weekend my mother surprised us with cupcakes and candles, which the children helpfully blew out for me before I had even managed to take a deep breath! We had an office Christmas party, which Kirsty elected not to attend on account of the new baby and I did attend but remained sober in order to come home and fall asleep with our littlest love in my arms. And the following Monday I had my annual review, which went well, as I suspected it would. I was pleased.
We had planned a simple Christmas; the children don’t really want for much, so we focused this year on toys to share and educational toys. And we decided in advance that we wouldn’t fuss over a Christmas dinner, we would wear party hats and eat a beige freezer dinner and spend the time playing with the children instead. I was looking forward to plenty of family time.
And then my work-life exploded.
Kirsty did an awful lot of ‘holding the fort’ in December. She held it on Christmas Eve, when she kept the children up well past their ordinary bedtime in order to give me a chance to see them, to open their stockings and to take them downstairs in their pyjamas to put out coconut water for Santa (it was that or frozen breastmilk) and muesli and a couple of carrots for the reindeer. And she held it again on Boxing Day, where I was out of the house by 7am and didn’t return until that afternoon. It couldn’t be helped and I have been so grateful to have the sort of partner whom I could wake up in the night to (literally) take the baby so that I could jump into a taxi, but leaving them over Christmas and losing so much time with them over the past few weeks has stung.
But there was magic too.
Magic in five fleecey reindeer gathered about a tree in the woods that had been inexplicably adorned for Christmas, their eyes bright and shining with wonder. Magic in singing Christmas carols and cheerful tunes, in decorating the house, in fairy lights everywhere. Magic in matching penguin onesies, in taking them out for coffee dressed exactly like that because you can, because it’s Christmas. Magic in early, dark nights and bleary-eyed mornings and brioche for breakfast and that first, intoxicating sip of mulled wine (drunk before noon because you can’t drink in the evening when you share a bed with a baby!). Magic in leaving out carrots for Santa’s reindeer, the boys solemn with the responsibility of finding the perfect space in the front garden, and in sneaking back out in the rain late that night to crunch up the carrots so that they would know that he had been, and the reindeer appreciated their thoughtful gift.
And if sometimes I missed out on the festivity, if sometimes they watched Christmas movies without me or Kirsty read with them the books that I had promised to read then – well – it made it all the more magical when I ran down the path, the gate swinging in the wind behind me, and the front door opened and a little of children toppled out in their deer-covered pajamas, exclaiming “Mummy!”.
Oh what a December! What a Christmas! What a marvelous, bittersweet end to the year!