This year I’ve taken part in a Secret Santa blog event organised by Vicki and Sarah at The Adoption Social. I wrote a guest post for another blog, and a mystery someone wrote a guest post for me
My mystery guest writer turned out to be http://adoptandkeepcalm.wordpress.com/ and I am elighted to be hosting her post this year
I hope you enjoy reading as much as I did, and do pop over and read her blog in full
Christmas Past & Christmas Present.
I grew up in a reasonably large family, Mum, Dad & 4 children. I am the youngest and so all my Christmas memories are full of the antics of family fun.
My parents, Mum especially always put a Christian emphasis on Christmas, but not in an overbearing way. We still did all the fun things but church was featured.
The build up to Christmas really, for me anyway, started on Dec 1st with Advent calendars. And yes, even 30+ years ago, I was lucky to have ones with chocolate in (from my Grandad, paper ones from parents!).
Then there were Christmas parties galore. School, Sunday School, swimming, Dad’s work, Brownies/Guides, youth clubs……
The Christmas cards – making them, colouring them in, writing them & delivering them. The delivering them was the fun bit. How many people could we get a mince pie out of if we knocked on the doors.
Brother #1’s birthday is on Dec 21st, and to keep it special (and probably to keep us calmer) we didn’t decorate till after his birthday, and then once that had happened it was all systems set to ‘manic’.
The last few days would be us decorating, visiting friends, cooking, shopping and together doing all the things that make Christmas go smoothly.
I don’t have completely rose tinted glasses. I also remember plenty of arguments when the older boys came home from university and didn’t ‘muck in’. And there was invariably an explosion from Mum on Dec 23rd – as none of us were helping blah blah blah.
Christmas Day would be very traditional – first opening stockings (and for a fair few years this would happen twice – once before we were allowed to and a second time when we were allowed to).
Then breakfast, followed by church. Back for Christmas dinner. Then the lucky ones of us got to walk the dogs whilst the others washed up, cleared up and got ready for………
The Queen’s Speech.
Then, eventually came the main present opening.
Mum & Dad never went overboard. We would have 1 or 2 decent presents from them, but the pile was always enormous – by the time you have added Grandparents presents, godparents presents, friends presents and multiplied it by 6, the pile is quite big.
Boxing day was nearly always with extended family – showing off new presents, getting more presents, going for a walk, but mainly lots of games
So, when Bonzo moved in, this is sort of how I expected things would be. And they were the first year. On a much smaller scale.
The past couple of Christmases have been quite different. It soon became apparent that Bonzo can’t really cope with excitement and build up. Last Christmas was the first in which the hype was out of my hands. He was at school – I couldn’t keep Christmas at bay.
After an eruptive December, which words don’t really do justice to how bad it was (though don’t get me wrong, he enjoyed things as they happened, just large fallouts afterwards & beforehand), we got to Christmas Day.
He was very cool, didn’t really want to see if Father Christmas had been. And after the first 2 stocking gifts was moody and sad. By mid morning he was off for a bike ride. Not a happy boy trying out a new bike, but a cross boy with an old bike and an almost as cross Mummy. The boy being told to ‘pedal, and pedal fast’! This sorted out things to a degree, but as soon as we were back to presents the tears & tantrums started again. (These aren’t tears & tantrums because he doesn’t like what he gets – it is all just too much for him). I think we averaged 2 presents per complete meltdown.
We had a simple lunch, festive but easy, and after a nap headed off to Great Aunt Hilarious’s for the rest of the day. As ever, walking into a neutral environment, Happy Bonzo appeared, and with only older cousins who all adore him around, the rest of the day went smoothly. He happily held court at dinner, and everyone was happy to have a cracker-free meal to prevent disaster, so all went well.
My parents, my Mum especially find this very hard. They just don’t understand why we can’t have a happy, clappy Christmas at their house, why we can’t go and stay for a few days (we do at other times of the year) and feel very sad for Bonzo and me that this is how it is. Last year, and it worked really well, we did a big family Christmas the weekend before.
On Friday after school we went (Granny, Grandad, cousins etc) to see Father Christmas at a local place. That was lovely, and although Bonzo bordered on the hysterically happy, I kept hold of him the whole time and we survived.
Saturday I can’t remember what we did!
Sunday, we had a family Christmas lunch at the local Harvester. This seems to work really well for everyone. Bonzo knows it, so is quite happy. He knows he can get a starter as soon as he wants to, so no issues with waiting for food. We are on mutual ground, so generally, all goes well.
Then Mum & Dad go home, happy to have seen all the grandchildren around Christmas.
We are repeating this this year (if I remember to book the restaurant!) and it is rapidly becoming a new family tradition.
So, Christmases past, and Christmas present – all very different. I write this having just cancelled taking Bonzo to the Beaver Christingle as that was going to be way too much for a very tired little boy. It was a big decision – I love the Christingle service and so does he. But what is far more important is getting through this season in one piece and in peace!