Tag Archive for christmas

At Three And A Half

Long, slender limbs flash before me as they climb unaided into the bath. Gone are chubby fists and rotund bellies. Hair is long and requires brushing, parting, plaiting. Words became sentences, formed conversations and posed existential questions.

“I don’t want to grow up.”

“Why not?”

“Because I wouldn’t be able to have my small plate any more. I like my small plate. And I wouldn’t be able to wear my small shoes. I’d have big feet so I’d have to have big shoes.”

Said with such wide-eyed, innocent sorrow that we catch each other’s eyes above her head and want to laugh.

I don’t remember the thought of growing up feeling so scary. All the time they are changing and growing and amazing me and I want to tell them how big they are. But I hold back. Because of the small plate and the small shoes.

The magic of Christmas is alive and kicking now. They understand about presents and can almost keep a surprise. They understand that their desires can be catalogued and requested of a bearded man in a red suit. They talk about leaving out a mince pie and a carrot. They talk about their stockings and elves and flying reindeer. They manage eight days of advent before they eat the remains of their calendars – impulse control and the concept of delayed gratification still beyond their reach.

They love and squeeze and hug and blow you kisses and catch the returns in their hands, putting them in a pocket or sometimes in their mouths.

They burn with anger and injustice – the fire of small people who don’t have the means to regulate their own emotions yet – and they cry when things don’t go their way, when we’re out of red straws, or their banana breaks in half. And they cuddle in close and start to tell me their feelings. They tell me when I forget to use my words – when my temper slips out and I snap and shout. They remind me of my humanity and they accept my apology.

They dance and sing and play. They ask me what that word is, what that letter is, what this says. And I tell them. They ask why, but why, but why and sometimes I say I don’t know.

They light up the world with a fire that burns so brightly. My role is to keep that fire stoked, to feed it dry wood and keep it aflame. It’s a tough job, unrelenting, but the warmth and light from that fire is more than I could ever have dreamed of.

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Our merry little Christmas

Admittedly this should have been posted about two weeks ago, but although the girls were brilliantly behaved on Christmas day and we all had a wonderful time, since then any and all good sleeping habits have flown out the window so it’s been a struggle to get anything productive done at all.

Still, it would be remiss of me not to post the details of our Christmas, despite it now being the middle of January.

We left out a carrot for Rudolph and a mince pie and glass of Baileys for Father Christmas.

We hung the girls’ stockings off their cots and dressed them in their new Christmas pyjamas.

L and I enjoyed a glass of Baileys and a quiet evening and Claudia slept from about 11pm until 6am!  She must have known that Father Christmas wouldn’t come if she was awake.

In the morning we fed them and then opened their stockings.

After that we went downstairs and L and I opened our presents to one another.  We were then both able to take it in turns to shower and start to get things ready for the day.  L’s parents were first to arrive and we Skyped with L’s brother and his wife in Sydney.  We opened our presents from them over Skype and the girls tried on part of the outfits they had been bought by the Australian contingent.

Then my family arrived and we started getting ready for Christmas dinner.  L had promised “Turkey at two”, but in the grand tradition of Christmas dinners we didn’t start the main course until closer to 4pm.

After dinner we all opened our presents, including an absolute MOUNTAIN of gifts for the girls!

We had an amazing day.  The babies had cuddles with everyone and were really, really good.

Without a doubt the best Christmas ever!

A very merry Christmas

From the four of us!

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We are SO looking forward to Christmas Day (we are hosting both sets of parents and my brothers) and hope that all of you have a wonderful time with your families and friends over the Christmas period.

This blog is two years old today and who would have believed, as I typed out that first entry, that we’d be here today with two of the most gorgeous babies on the planet! Dreams really do come true…

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Xxx

Charitable

I’m a pretty compassionate person.  I have a lot of empathy.  I hate to see people in pain.  I am very forgiving – sometimes to the point that others might suggest I’m a bit of a mug.  I think charity is great.  Helping people is a good thing.

In my humble opinion, the best kind of charity is the kind that begins at home.  There are so many charitable organisations out there, but often it is the small things you can do for the people around you that mean the most.  Plus most charities often get bogged down by bureaucracy and the need to actually pay their employees as few people are in the fortunate position of being able to work for free.  I appreciate that, I really do.  I’ve done voluntary work and it was amazing, but I couldn’t fit it in these days, around my very-much-full-time job.

That said, there are certain things charities do that irritate me beyond all belief.  “Charity muggers” – the people you get on the High Street wearing cagoules emblazoned with the charity logo and carrying clip boards upon which they can collect all your Direct Debit information, for those not hip with the slang these days – are possibly the lowest form of life.  Paid ridiculous amounts an hour (I have it from an inside source), they try and convince members of the public to part with a set amount of cash every month.  The only way to avoid them is with a strict eyes-down approach as you give them a wide berth on the High Street or in the shopping mall.

I see nothing noble in standing on the pavement pressurising unsuspecting members of the public into feeling incredibly guilty about not contributing when, by and large, the Charity Muggers themselves have no affinity with the charity and are in fact making a quite tidy sum from the endeavour.

So imagine my dismay when a former colleague posted a link on Facebook to her Just Giving page encouraging people to “sponsor” her to go to an Eastern European country for Christmas.

She’s been vaguely involved with one of those charities that distributes shoeboxes to orphans for the last couple of years, since her partner dragged her, rather unwillingly, along to a committee meeting.  We had to endure quite a lot of moaning about the bloody shoe box charity when she first ‘had’ to become involved.

For the record, I think the shoe box idea is an excellent one that does a lot of good and I’d happily fill a shoe box or three for orphaned children.  But that’s not what she’s asking us for.  Basically, the charity offers people the chance to “get involved” and travel out to one of these deprived countries to help distribute the shoe boxes.  Again, I have no particular problem with this.

The problem I have is that the flights and accommodation for this particular trip cost around £900.  So what she is asking for is contributions towards these costs under the guise of “sponsorship”.

Now, to me, sponsorship suggests someone undertaking some kind of challenge.  Whether it be something ridiculous but unpleasant like sitting in a bath of baked beans for several hours, something that challenges our vanity like shaving your head, or something physically arduous like a marathon, I would happily sponsor you if I felt you were overcoming some kind of hardship.

When no one seemed to be responding to her little Facebook request, her later update included the information that she would be doing a 24-hour fast to add “a little extra incentive” for people to donate.  A 24-hour fast?  I did one of those when I was 13!  And it wasn’t even hard.  You’re asleep for at least 8 hours of it, so really it just entails going without breakfast and lunch for one day.  Doesn’t really compare to someone having their entire body waxed for charity or doing a 24-hour gameathon.

I think I wouldn’t even find it all so incredulous if perhaps she were honest that the “sponsorship” is paying for her flight and accommodation.  Or, even better, if she were paying at least half the costs herself.  She’s a 36 year old woman on very good money and, quite frankly, if she wants a holiday this Christmas, she should bloody well pay for it herself.

I suppose I’m not really sure how she is being charitable in doing this.  It seems to me she’s getting a free holiday and having the pleasure of seeing those poor, deprived children’s faces when they open up probably the only Christmas presents they’ve ever received.

If charity really begins at home, then it stands to reason you should be giving something of yourself in order to really be making a contribution.

So, am I just a cynical old Scrooge, or do I actually have a valid point?  Answers on a postcard please.

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