when is it not too soon?

So I expected to be in premature festivities after Bonfire night (possibly the most bizarre annual show of patriotism?).  I started making lists – and thats always a clear sign that I’m gearing up to something.  But since making space on top of the wardrobe at the weekend, its fizzled.  I’m resting up as much as I can because I’ve had a little set back with my back this week and I want to be ready for a weekend in Wales next weekend.  The halt on the christmas feeling is good though.  I was a little startled with it myself, wondering if I’d peak to early and be ready to take down the decorations by Christmas eve.

No, I need to pace myself.  This is no ordinary Christmas.  This is my first Christmas with…Pinterest! I created a Christmas board back in September and restricted myself to occasional pins with great self control.  But now – most pins out there are full of seasonal deliciousness.  I draw complete blanks when I explain Pinterest to a pinterest-virgin.  Maybe I dont explain it well, but even I think about it and it seems a little random.  But a couple of hours and two glazy eyes later you can’t help feeling a little whimsical and you don’t know where the time went.

We have a family deal (or a fear of The Husband’s brothers’ wrath) that we don’t play christmas music before December 1st.  We try to get our tree and decorations up as soon after this date as possible too.  I used to have shopper rage when I heard Christmas music early.  Once when I was a student and went into town I confess I even growled a little to the cashier at the Early Learning Centre.  Her cheerful response was that The Early Learning Centre starts Christmas early.  I growled back.  But now that I’m a busy mum I’m a little less precious about it.  In fact, nowadays I’d probably high five the cashier, not because they’re cashing in on the extended holidays season but because they’re making it easier for us who have got to get organised way before the mulled wine is brought out.

So when do you put your christmas decorations up and start to play along with Mariah Carey?

 

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the joys of pottering.

We’ve got into a nice little routine of protecting our Saturdays.  We give the working week to everyone else so this one day is ours. Dozing while the kids play at ridiculous o’clock, heading out to the girls swimming lessons and then making our way home for an afternoon of pottering.  I love pottering in our own little piece of the world.  Even if it means housework.  Weird, I know.  So this afternoon, as I was sorting through our bedroom, I figured I should probably start making some space to hide christmas presents.  With just over six weeks to go, I’d better start getting organised.

The older Chloe gets, the more uncomfortable I get with the whole ‘Santa Claus’ thing.  I hate lying to her, even if it means carrying her into a place of wonder and fantasy.  I want her to grow up respecting me and trusting me at my word and I’m pretty sure she won’t be feeling very trusting when she finds out I’ve been less than truthful about where she gets her christmas presents from.  But the alternative is to break her heart and ask her to ‘keep the secret’ with other children who continue to believe!  Uh.  why do us grown ups get ourselves into such pickles?!?

With time flying by so ridiculously fast, I want to plan out this Christmas season.  Our girls won’t be young for much longer so I want to embrace their childhood while I can.  It would be nice if I could plan in a little snow too.  Our family in Canada have snow already and although the novelty doesn’t last long over there, as they settle into life indoors for 6 months, I’m still a little jealous.

Christmas can be so draining on the ol’ purse strings so I’m seeing it as a challenge to make christmas great on a budget.  It’s totally possible, it just takes a little pre-planning and a bucket load of creativity.  So everything that I come up with for a super-duper frugal but fabulous Christmas will find itself on here, I promise.  So watch this space baby.

One day at a time though.  And right now, armed with a treat size bag of malteasers and with one of our babies asleep in “mummy and daddy’s big bed”, we’re kicking back and enjoying saturday night TV with our two other babies.

 

Halloween Schmalloween.

“Halloween Schmalloween, this day belongs to the Lord and later we’re going to partyyyyyyy”

This was what I tweeted yesterday morning as I sat in the waiting area for my physio appointment.  I have the most bizarre relationship/perspective on the 31st October.  So many memories that make up to how I feel about it.

Before The Husband and I married, both being over-analysers, we disussed everything that we thought would come up in our marriage.  Money, children, ministry, gender roles, pets, did I mention money? So we were smug enough to think we were a step ahead of anything that could catch us off guard.  We were married in the July, and were soon packing up our rented house to move into our own in the late atumn.  Enter 31st October.

It was, as you’d expect, dark outside and we were probably busy packing boxes when one of us realised it was halloween.  Oh.  We’d never really talked over how we’d handle trick-or-treaters.  We decided quickly that we both hated halloween and everything it represented.  But do we answer the door and politely explain that we don’t celebrate halloween?  Do we give out sweets anyway?  Do we blatantly show we’re at home and ignore the door bell?  Or do we turn out ALL lights and skulk around in the dark?

Yes.  As fully grown adults, we decided to do the latter.  It saw us commando-crawling (with a bark of “get-down!”) across the floor each time the door bell rang and reaching up in the dark to peep through a window to see if they’d gone.  We were ready for those teenage ratbags with eggs.  Only they didn’t come.  We ended up taking on mission-“get-down!” for sweet young kids, most of whom were accomplanied by an adult.  I know.  The mind boggles.  We look back now and laugh so much about it, the funniest part being that it was no laughing matter at the time.  It was something we were literally working through as we lived it.

we tried out the strategy that the inlaws use and kept a bowl of sweets by the front door with a sign saying that we don’t celebrate halloween but please take a sweet.  Its seemed to work for them.  Only The Husband paced the floor all evening, peeking through the blinds to make sure the kids were not taking more than their share of sweets! I thought the man was going to have a heart attack…!

And then five years ago, on 31st October I miscarried. The story is told here on my brand-new-not-even-really-ready-to-be-put-out-there secondary blog where I will be piling all my mummy stuff so not to overload it here.  Even now, when October 31st rolls round I feel the sting off loss.

Last year I was sitting thinking about halloween, probably feeling a little wistful over my own experiences.  But I know I was feeling frustrated that children were being exposed to horrible stuff on halloween.  There has been times when I’ve had to walk out of a shop with my girls because the decoration has been so frightening.  I just don’t see what’s fun about death, horror and giving children nightmares.  But at the same time there’s no denying there’s a pull to it; the promise of sweets when trick-or-treating and the opportunity to see your friends at a halloween party.

It’s not enough to say ‘no’ to our children with Halloween.  Telling kids to stay away from something just makes the mystery of it all the more appealing (unless you’re as sensible as Chloe who would not touch anything scary with a barge pole).  If we’re trying to guide our children from something unhelpful we have to provide an alternative, so there’s no sense of missing out.

So last year we launched the Starlight Party at Emmanuel Church, and the church was packed full of kids and their family from both within the church family and from the local community.  Last night we celebrated the Starlight Party’s second birthday.  I felt like my heart would swell out of my rib  cage, I was so thankful for a team of about 30, that worked tirlessly with smiles on their faces.

And we pulled it off! Kids loved it and their family loved it.  I can’t say I’m a little relieved the planning is behind me but it without a doubt it was completely worth it.