One final Christmas Eve activity, after all the prep had been done for the big Christmas dinner, was to assemble the crackers. We had picked up some kits containing everything we needed in Hobbycraft a couple of weeks earlier and they were really straightforward to make.
Then the last thing we had to do of course, was to leave out a little something for Santa.
We always open just one present each on Christmas Eve, and these three were delighted with the ones that they chose to open.
One absolutely final thing to do before bed, was to put the carrots outside for the reindeer.
All of them.
Once all the younger boys were tucked up in bed, one of the older boys, who shall remain nameless, helped set up the Santa presents, and seemed to really enjoy setting up this little Playmobil farm house and shop!
The boys were told that they couldn't wake us before 8am on Christmas morning, and so at 8am on the dot they came into our room. Our tradition is that they bring their stockings through to our bedroom and everyone sits on our bed opening their stocking presents. This year David (11) had taken one of the spare stockings and put a box of chocolates in it for me, and a box of sweets for dad, and placed it at the bottom of our bed as he came in. I need to remember this sweet side of him the next time I find him playing football in the living room!
Christmas morning was all that you hope it will be with children, and I think is best summed up by these two pictures.
Another Christmas tradition is that my parents in law and sister in law come round to ours late morning on Christmas day to spend the day with us. We don't exchange our gifts with them until they arrive and so it means we have a whole other round of present swapping to look forward to.
We usually eat around 2:30/3pm. Just as long as my father in law can listen to the Queen's speech.
This year for starter we had a whole side of smoked salmon, that I bought in Aldis.
I served it very simply, with some homemade oatcakes.
Main course was, of course, turkey.
And all the trimmings. Including 4kg of roast potatoes, every last one of which was eaten.
And pudding was either my gluten and dairy free Christmas pudding, or the not at all free from Chocolate Brownie and Raspberry Trifle you can just make out at the back of this picture. Made with raspberries the boys and I had picked in the summer holidays.
One of the gifts David received was a photobooth kit and so we had a little fun playing about with that after dinner.
Calum (14) got some lenses that clip onto your phone camera and so these added to the photo fun.
This photo is what I would say depicts my perfect Christmas Day - there is stuff absolutely everywhere, but the mess doesn't matter at all as everything feels so cosy and homely.
But the real entertainment of Christmas Day is when the cards come out for charades. There is usually far too much hilarity for any photos to be taken. These three were working together here to do one of the charades.
After our busy Christmas Day, we had more guests on Boxing Day, and so we really needed a few quieter days after that. Dad went back to work for a couple of days between Christmas and New Year, and on one of those days I agreed to let the boys tip out a large selection of their Lego in the living room so that they could re-build some of their older broken models. It was a great way for them to spend a dull winter day, and I even got a chance to spend some time on my cross stitch sampler. It was a year long stitch along that I had started 2 years ago and hadn't made it past the first month! I've set myself the goal of finishing it this year though as it's so lovely. Remarkably with all of this Lego on the floor, nobody had any injuries and it was all tidied up again by dinner time!
At the end of the first week of holiday we took a trip to a farm shop to meet up with some friends. It was a pretty windy day but that didn't stop the boys having a run around the playpark.
For Hogmanay we went through to spend the night at my in laws'. As we do every year. We really are creatures of habit!
All but the littlest boy managed to stay up until the bells.
Every New Year's Day, before we enjoy a big meal at granny and grandad's, we go for a cold walk - it's always bitterly cold on New Year's Day - with my sister in law and her dog, and every year she gets one of the rare photos of all of us together. This year she managed to take quite a few good ones at different points of our walk, but this is one of my favourites.
On an even more cold 2nd of January, the boys' shinty team had organised a new tradition of a New Year shinty match.
The younger boys and I started out watching them, but at the point when we could no longer feel our toes we decided to wait for them in the car instead.
Before dad headed back to work again he took the older boys on an 8 mile off road cycle. It was the first time David had been able to properly test out the bike he got for his birthday in November.
I would consider that well and truly tested now, wouldn't you? The bike AND my washing machine.
We had one or two chilly walks to the park in the remainder of the holidays...
.... but what I'll really remember the last week of these holidays for is lots of cosy, and guilt free lazing about like this.