As I was writing the last blog I noticed that most of our posts in the run up to Christmas seemed to highlight some of the difficulties we face during the festive season. I thought it important to balance that out and write a little about how much we love Christmas.
Christmas for us begins sometime in early November when I catch the girls singing Jingle Bells in the back of the car. Our general rule is that all Christmas related activity is restricted to December. Come the 1st of December I am happy for it to start but inevitably the rule gets pushed to the limit as December approaches. However once December hit then the tree was up the carols were playing and the Christmas jumper was on.
Traditions are always a big part of Christmas, but we have learnt to hold them lightly over the last few years as Little Legs’ needs don’t always match the perfect image of Christmas that we hold in our minds. But simple traditions still carry on through December: the Christmas Story advent calendar with a miniature book to read each day before hanging them on the tree (plus the usual chocolate calendars); ‘How the Grinch stole Christmas’ has become one of my favourite books to read to the girls in the run up to Christmas. It is such a great little story that always gives me goosebumps at the end (neither the cartoon or the film come anywhere near the book).
Over the last few years the run up to Christmas has been amplified by our anticipation of, enjoyment of and revelling in the new Star Wars films that are released. This year was no different,. We had been watching the trailers over and over, debating at the hidden secrets. The girls dressed up as their favourite characters as we went on the opening day to see The Last Jedi. (Spoilers) We loved it! Little Legs is a bit too young to watch the films on the big screen but enjoyed her date at her Auntie’s house while we went. She likes to tell me the names of all the characters though, just so that I know she is on board.
As the big day approaches, we enjoy some simple pleasures. Our church’s carol service. Some short winter walks. A movie snuggled under blankets. Hot Chocolate and cookies. A day out with Granny and Grandad.
Like many families that adopt, we have to work hard over Christmas to manage certain peak stress times. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day can be busy and hard work for a lot of families and we have tried to simplify as much as we can. On Christmas Eve morning I take all four girls to the cinema. This is great fun for us but allows Mrs Six a couple of hours to herself to relax and also wrap presents that we would otherwise have to wrap late on Christmas Eve. After lunch, weather permitting, we go for a short walk. By late afternoon/early evening we have a Christmas Eve box, which usually has some new PJs for everyone, some hot choc stix and the movie we are going to watch (this year it was Muppets’ Christmas Carol), as well as ‘The night before Christmas’ story which we read together before the girls go to bed.
Christmas Day begins with a bustle of excitement, but we try to contain things as much as possible for Little Legs. There is no middle of the night present adventure, just a 7am get up. We open all our presents downstairs together and try to take some blurry photos. We laugh, we shout, we enjoy. Little Legs usually displays a range of emotions and at times heads towards overload as she struggles to be able to cope with receiving so many gifts. Later we attend a short get together at our church to sing some carols and see friends.
Christmas dinner is just us.
Just us six, together, happy.
Later on we pay a visit to nearby family for an hour. It helps to break the day up and gives Little Legs a “next thing” to focus on.
Boxing Day is when we all seem to relax the most. With the big day over, all the mystery unwrapped and with lots of new books and toys to occupy both children and adults we just relax. We had an extraordinary amount of Lego come into our house this Christmas and Happy Dreamer and myself spent a wonderful nine hours sat next to each other at the big table working on our various sets.
From then on we try to enjoy the rest of the holiday as best we can. We watch movies, go for walks, play games and read our books. Interestingly Little Legs seems to struggle more as we move away from Christmas Day. Its as if she puts so much effort into negotiating all of the emotions around the event itself that after she can’t regulate her feelings. Between Boxing Day and the New Year we had a full range of explosive emotions and actions. Managing these emotions and helping her through are the reasons why our Christmas may seem a little low key, with lots of time by ourselves and not too much interaction with other families.
But even with all that emotional navigation we do love Christmas. From the moment we play the first carol to the last decoration put back in the box. We love the season, we love the holiday, we love the sharing, we love the food, we love the celebration.
We love the story.
Hail the Heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Risen with healing in His wings;
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the new-born king”