Christmas is over for another year. Roll on New Year’s Eve, roll on 2017.
All those weeks of anticipation and it’s almost gone before you know it, isn’t it?Thankfully we have plenty of photos and memories to remind us of the festive season. Here are 20 images that sum up our 2016 Christmas.
We normally put up the Christmas decorations at the beginning of December, although that was delayed a bit this year as I was away in Sweden with work.
But once we’d started, the kids embraced it with their usual enthusiasm, hand-making their own decorations, putting up our spare tree in the playroom and helping out with the main tree in our living room. December is an exciting and excitable month in our household.
Kara needs little excuse to dress up at any time of the year and Christmas was no exception.
A day in London
One of our family traditions is to head in to London to take in the Christmas lights and the Trafalgar Square tree, and go out for lunch with my parents and brother.
This year we also visited the new flagship Lego store in Leicester Square before lunch. Then Heather had booked tickets for her and Kara to see Frozen On Ice in the afternoon, while my folks joined the boys and I taking in Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park for the first time, which included rides on the giant ferris wheel, dodgems and rollercoasters. It’s a real money-burner but we had a great time and the whole thing felt very Christmassy despite the unseasonally mild weather.
The kids decided to play tag-team with us on Christmas Eve night, taking it in turns to be awake so that it was nearly 3am before we were able to finally hang their stockings at the end of their beds. I say ‘we’ – actually it was Heather, although I did have my alarm set for 3:30 as a fail-safe.
Anyhow, the boys were up not long after 5am – I drew the short straw on the early shift – and present-opening started in earnest at 7am (and, miracle of miracles, didn’t finish until 11:25).
Last year we had so many presents under the tree that we swore we would rein things in and be more restrained this year. Did we succeed? No. Oh well. Anyway, the kids were pleased with their respective hauls.
Better still is the fact that they’re just as enthusiastic about small stocking fillers as they are about their big ‘Santa gifts’.
Turkey (and a bit more turkey)
It required a few years’ worth of gradual transition but the responsibility for cooking Christmas lunch is now solely mine, aided and abetted by a small army of vegetable choppers.
Which is fine by me: it means I can dictate that it’s my kitchen and my rules. But it also means there’s a large sigh of relief when I take the turkey out of the oven and confirm that it is neither raw nor incinerated. Phew.
Leftovers (of which there are plenty) are left to Heather, who produces a delicious turkey and leek pie from a Jamie Oliver recipe, which always goes down well with everyone. No more turkey sandwiches for us …
Over the years, we have built up – and continue to add to – a long list of Christmas traditions.
Some of these routines are long-standing: attacking the Christmas edition of the Radio Times with a highlighter pen or our big family Christmas Eve dinner of dim sum and party food. Others have developed as our young family grown up: board and card game sessions, Christmas movie evenings, dimming the lights for the kids’ annual glow-stick disco.
One of our more recent traditions that Heather started up last year is to sit down with the kids on Christmas Eve and make donations to charities of their choice. It’s a reminder to all of us that Christmas isn’t just about what presents we receive – it’s about giving. And in a world in which we live in middle-class comfort surrounded by middle-class friends and neighbours, it’s good for us to remember that there are many people less fortunate than us whose plights need our support at this time of year more than ever.
It wasn’t deliberate but many of our presents this year were wearables of some description, from Kara’s new apron to a rare novelty t-shirt for me which made me chuckle. (Not that you would know it given that I consistently get pub quiz questions about it wrong, but I have a degree in chemistry.)
And Isaac is chuffed with his cut-price Fitbit knock-off, which he is obsessively checking approximately eleventy thousand times a day as he attempts to increase his step count.
And finally …
Sometimes, though, it’s all a bit too much. When you’ve had four hours of broken sleep, been awake since 5am, drunk half a bottle of champagne and then cooked Christmas lunch solo, you just need five minutes to rest your weary head and examine the inside of your eyelids.
That’s all this was. I wasn’t sleeping at all. Honest.
I hope you all had a great Christmas too. Any particular highlights you’d like to share?