What a month! We celebrated Ella turning thirteen at the beginning of December, finally moved house (woohoo!) and then both Mimi and Ella succumbed to the epidemic of flu going around their school. It completely wiped them out one week after the other in the lead up to the end of term and they each missed a whole week of lessons. Thankfully they were both just about better in time for the start of the Christmas holidays.
We’ve also had two mini-Christmases – one with the teenager and one with the husband and I’s parents – and enjoyed our first Christmas in our new home, which has definitely been one to remember!
Here are all the little things I’ve been loving lately throughout December…
City of Glass: I’m steadily working my way through the Shadowhunters series by Cassandra Clare that Ella has got me hooked on. I’m currently on number three ‘City of Glass’ and am thoroughly enjoying the escapism.
New books: I also got a couple of new books for Christmas – ‘Stillness is the Key’ by Ryan Holiday and ‘The Truth About Magic’ by Atticus – so I’m looking forward to sitting down with those too.
Ella turn 13: Back at the start of the month I watched my eldest girl turn thirteen. Thirteen! I can’t believe I’m a Mum to a teenager. It certainly doesn’t feel like thirteen years ago that she entered the world and turned our lives upside down in the very best of ways.
All birthdays are special of course but this one feels like a particularly important age and so we did our best to make a fuss of her and celebrate her despite the uncertainty around our house move. She was so pleased with and grateful for all of her presents and whilst I’m a tiny bit nervous of this next stage in my parenting journey, I’m also really looking forward to it. I hope we continue to stay close and that our relationship strengthens and deepens as she grows up.
Films at the cinema: As a birthday treat I took Ella out for lunch and to see ‘Last Christmas’ at the cinema. It was really lovely to have some time just the two of us, a mother-daughter ‘date’ of sorts. It’s rare that I get one-to-one time with any of my girls so when I do create the opportunity I really cherish it. The film was funny and sad and sweet – all the things that a romantic comedy should be. I figured out the plot twist about halfway through but it was still enjoyable and the George Michael music throughout the film took me right back to childhood as it was pretty much the soundtrack to me growing up at home. Ella enjoyed it too – it was her first time seeing a ‘grown-up’ (12A) film at the cinema.
I also treated the husband to a showing of the new Star Wars film at the cinema for his birthday at the end of the month. The things we do for love! I’m not the biggest fan of Star Wars but it was actually pretty good and I was mostly just happy to have an evening out with Neil as it’s rare we get time to ourselves any more.
School Christmas Show: Starting high school in September has made quite a difference to Mimi I think. She always professed to hate performing in front of people in both sports competitions and school assemblies. As a result we were a little surprised to hear that she’d signed up to take part in the school Christmas show, where she would be acting a couple of roles in a sketch of A Christmas Carol. She rehearsed with her friends every evening through WhatsApp video calls and when the day arrived we weren’t really sure what to expect, especially as she’d been ill for the entire previous week. Poor Ella was still really poorly with flu but wanted to go along to support her sister.
Of course it was brilliant! Mimi did great, remembering all her lines and delivering them well, and the rest of the musicians and singers (including some of the teachers!) really helped get us all in the festive spirit. I’m super proud of Mimi for stepping out of her comfort one and taking part and I can’t wait to see where this newly discovered love of drama takes her.
Christmas lights: The next village along from where we live is famous locally for it’s Christmas lights. Almost every home puts on a fantastic display to raise money for local hospice charities each December. I’ve been wanting to go and see the Christmas lights ever since we moved up to Staffordshire fourteen years ago but somehow we’ve never made it. I was absolutely determined that this year would be the year and we finally did it!
The girls were freezing within minutes and, despite plenty of “Oooooh!”s and “Wow!”s at the displays, they weren’t really feeling the festivities and kept asking to go home. I, however, was captivated by the colourful lights adorning the homes and gardens stretching along the main road and down the side streets. People obviously put a lot of time and effort into making it a spectacular event and it showed. Twinkly lights are by far my favourite kind of Christmas decoration (I’d keep them up all year round if I could!) – there’s something so magical about them. We didn’t stay for long but the half hour or so we were there wandering around was really lovely.
Pantomime: Three years ago we took the girls to their first ever pantomime at our local theatre and we loved it so much that it has now become an annual tradition. We always book it for during the strange stretch of time between Christmas and New Year so that we still have something fun planned in post-Christmas. In previous years we’ve seen Robin Hood and Dick Whittington. This year it was Peter Pan and I honestly think it was the best one yet. Silly jokes; innuendo; getting soaked with a water pistol; audience participation; brilliant acting, singing and dancing… it was ace.
Christmas choir performance: Every year, at the start of December, the main church in our town hosts a four-day long Christmas Tree Festival. I love visiting it and wandering through the hundred or so Christmas trees that have been carefully decorated by local schools, charities and businesses. It always helps me to start feeling a little bit festive.
For the last couple of years, Lola’s school choir group have performed there, singing a series of carols and Christmas songs for church and tree-festival goers. My Mum timed a visit to coincide with the day Lola was singing so we had some lunch out together and she came to see Lola sing too and it was really lovely to have her there. I always get a bit emotional and have no idea why – I just love watching and listening to Lola sing because she gets so much joy from it.
The house look festive: One of our first priorities after moving in was to put up the Christmas decorations and make the house look all festive. The girls decorated the tree completely by themselves – tinsel, baubles and everything – and I think they did a fantastic job. My Mum buys them a new decoration for the tree every year that has their name on and the girls are always excited to find out what it is. We’ve got snowmen and polar bears and angels and Santas, and this year it was a cute little reindeer.
Our first Christmas in our new home has been a bit disorganised and chaotic but it doesn’t matter. We made it happen, upheld most of our old traditions and hopefully created a couple of new ones too. There is magic in the mess.
Christmas dinner: There has been no festive baking this month as we’ve simply not had the time. I did manage to figure out our new oven and cooked Christmas dinner for the five of us on Christmas Day, though it ended up being a Christmas dinner with a difference! Having got everything all prepared, I opened the packaging for the turkey and was met with a smell that instantly turned my stomach. Despite being well in date and having been stored correctly in the coldest part of the fridge, the turkey had gone off.
Not wanting to risk giving us all food poisoning for Christmas, we had Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, minus the turkey. It’s a good job I bought extra stuffing and pigs in blankets (“just in case”)! Truth be told I was a little bit upset at the time (expectations for a perfectly magical Christmas being shattered and all that) but as the evening went on, the more ridiculous it seemed and I know it’ll end up being a funny story we tell each other in years to come: “Remember the year we had Christmas dinner…without the turkey!”
Christmas jumper: Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a Christmas jumper and our Santa hats and festive glasses and hairbands! I make them have this silly family selfie every single year and even though they’re blurry and poor qaulity I know that they’ll be the photos I treasure most when I’m older and they’ve all flown the nest.
House news: As previously mentioned, we finally moved house! It’s been a long time coming: our house went on the market in April; we accepted an offer on our house/put an offer in on our new house all the way back in August; and then finally exchanged, completed and moved in the second week of December. It’s been ridiculously stressful, incredibly emotional and totally worth it. Our new house feels right and I think we’re going to be happy here. It’s going to take a while to get it how we want it, but it’s already feeling like ‘home’.
Adventures: It’s rained pretty much non-stop this month, two out of three girls have been really poorly and we’ve been so busy with everything birthday/Christmas/house related that we’ve not really got outdoors for many adventures at all. I dragged everyone out for a quick walk on Cannock Chase at start of December, and we managed our traditional Christmas Eve walk, but that’s it. Still, anything more than nothing is good and I’m sure the blasts of fresh air we did get helped keep some of the germs at bay.
Mini-Christmas: We loved having Sophie with us for Christmas last year, for the first time ever. Sadly it wasn’t possible this year so instead we had our annual mini-Christmas the weekend before the big day, combining it with the husband’s birthday celebrations. Then, a few days after Christmas, my parents and my in-laws came around for the big Christmas buffet I put together every year. It’s the girls’ favourite and they look forward to it all year long. It helps keep the magic of the festive season going for just a little bit longer.
Now we’re about to say goodbye to 2019 and welcome in a new year and a whole new decade. 2019 has felt hard for many reasons, even with all the wonderful experiences we’ve had this year too. I’m ready to put it behind us and welcome in the new. 2020 is going to be an interesting year I think and I can’t wait to see where it’s going to take us and what we can create together as a family over the next twelve months.
I hope you have all had a wonderful festive season and wishing everyone a happy, healthy and peaceful start to the new year. See you in 2020!
Joining in with Sincerely, Anna and Little Loves.