Christmas Part One - The Build Up and The Big Day.

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Every year I take a little blogging break over Christmas time as things just get so busy, and I want to soak up as much of this special time of year as I can. Then when I sit down to share my roundup of Christmas I can't decide where to start as there is so much! So I decided to split this mammoth post into two posts. 

The first post will be about The Build Up and The Big Day.

 The second will be about The Bit In Between Where You Forget What Day It Is and Blazing into the New Year. 

So let's get going. 

Grab a cup of something, it's a long one.

The Build Up
I love the whole month of December and the build up to Christmas, despite how busy it can be, as much as the day itself.

We started December by getting our tree up as early as we could. Normally we would wait until the end of the first week of December, but this year since we were planning to be away over the festive fortnight, the boys and I were keen to get it up as soon as possible so that we could enjoy it as long as possible. Everyone loves to get involved.

James (17) is my expert tree builder and lights wrapper-onner. I used to always do these jobs, but in the last few years I have been happy for James to take over, especially as he has the same OCD attention to detail when putting the lights on as I do.

Ally (8) was delighted with the new golden Paddingtons we had bought this year.

*sigh* that sight makes me so contented every year. Our tree is far from a Pinterest worthy example of a tree, but it is crammed full of special memories of our family and that makes it far more beautiful than any tree I have ever seen in any photoshoots.

Each December one of our many advent calendars is an activity calendar, which the younger boys love doing. I don't put anything too challenging in it, as there is enough going on in December. Some examples of things we do are: write a letter to Santa, make Christmas biscuits, have a treasure hunt (which is always one of their favourites as the prize at the end is always their new Christmas jammies), colour in pictures, write our Christmas cards.

One special treat in this year's calendar was a trip to the cinema to see Paddington, who you know by now is a big favourite of Ally's. And Fraser's now too. Paddington had to come with us to the cinema.

The older boys were involved in playing some Christmas carols with their school wind band a couple of times.

In fact a few times I thought the three of them looked like a mini Salvation Army band as they walked off to school together.

December was largely cold and frosty...

...and cold enough to freeze this water bottle that was left in the car completely solid.

I always enjoy the Gaelic Christmas service that takes place every year. Both the Primary and Secondary school Gaelic Medium pupils go along to the service and it's lovely to have everyone there together.

One afternoon Ally dressed in his elf dressing up outfit, put some reindeer antlers on his favourite teddy and dressed Fraser up as Santa.

They enjoyed meeting Santa at the Sunday School party.

I love playing Christmas music, and also loved my Christmas dress this year, which I tried to wear as much as I could!

I love how the house looks at Christmas time.

One thing I didn't love about this Christmas was the flu that went around.

First to go down with it was Fraser, who went from bouncing around to fast asleep with a high temperature in the space of a couple of hours 8 days before Christmas.

Ally was very sweet looking after him that day. He sat beside him on the sofa and drew pictures of Fraser's favourite things in the Argos catalogue to cheer him up when he woke up.

Fraser was properly under the weather for about 48 hours. For the first 24 hours his temperature didn't really come down with Calpol. The second day, the Calpol began to work but as soon as it wore off his temp would creep up again. Although he perked up again on the third day it was a few more days before he stopped complaining that his legs were achy, and he began to regain his appetite and just generally became more of his old self. Ally and Dad were next down with the flu, on the Wednesday before Christmas and David was hit by it on the Friday. David and Fraser rarely get sick and it was unusual for them to be floored by something. On the Friday David was so upset by his headache. Thankfully he and Ally were only at their worst for about 48 hours, and everyone was much better by Christmas. Although poor Dad had to spend several days in bed, and although he thought he was on the mend by Christmas, he then felt worse again for a few more days. We found out from others that this seemed to be the pattern of this flu.

Just before the flu hit we enjoyed watching Calum (15) and James perform with their school wind band in the annual Christmas concert at the Usher Hall. This year was James' last time taking part in the Christmas concert as he will leave school in the summer.

The concert was of it's usual extremely high standard, and without any sort of bias I'm pretty sure that the wind band's performance of The Polar Express was the highlight of the night.

Just before we packed up and headed up to Granny and Shen's for the holidays we saw Santa as he came round our street in his Landrover pulled sleigh. 

Also just before we left for our holidays - the night before - I sewed up some new stockings for everybody. Since we would be at my mum and dad's for Christmas I also made them one each too.

On the Thursday before Christmas we packed the car up and headed north for the holidays. The last time we spent Christmas at my mum and dad's house was in 2009, one of the worst winters for decades. That year we drove through a blizzard all the way north and endured a stormy ferry crossing across. Then on the way home endured an even worse storm on the ferry and had to drive through another blizzard all the way down again. Mr housefulofboys swore never to go away at Christmas time again!

8 years, and several much more normal winters later, we all agreed that we wanted to spend Christmas at Granny and Shen's again. 

And thankfully, despite some heavy snow the week before we left, the weather was on our side this time and all the roads were clear.

The ferry crossing was also pretty good. A little choppy in the middle section, but that's pretty normal for December in the Minch.

Once settled at Granny and Shen's it was time to get the final preparations for Christmas underway. Everybody helped me make the, very late, Christmas pudding.

Fraser and Ally kept themselves busy by painting some elf doors while I made a mountain of mince pies.

On Christmas Eve we had a little Jenga competition. Fraser is surprisingly good at it for a 4 year old!

And we enjoyed the Christmas fellowship and quiz at Shen's church in the evening.

At bedtime the boys raided granny's fridge for a snack for the reindeer. They also looked out a mince pie for Santa.

With the seven of us, my mum, dad and youngest brother all there for Christmas there was quite a mound of gifts under their tree this year.

Just before bed on Christmas Eve. 

And since we're now looking at my parents' tree, apparently one string of those coloured lights are older than me. That impressed the boys!

Ally and Fraser placed out their keys for their elf doors just before bed too.

And last thing before we all went to bed on Christmas Eve we sang a few carols. This one has been one of my favourites for years.

Final thing once the boys were in bed, laying out the big presents.

Complete with special tags. (Thank you Pinterest)

The Big Day
Our Christmas mornings always begin with the boys bringing their stockings through to our room and emptying the contents on our bed. We had told them not to get up before 8am, and at 8am on the dot they all came though.

They don't look in their stockings before they come through to us, and although the gifts in them are only small things - stationery, sweets, annuals/books other extremely random things - they all love this part almost as much as opening the bigger presents.

Then we met Granny, Shen and Uncle Ally in the hallway and all headed down to the big living room to see what Santa had left.

Paw Patrol!

Ninjago Movie Lego!

Chelsea clothes!

A record player!

And a new laptop! (Maybe this means I can get on my one more now?)

Shen had to give the younger generation a quick lesson on how to use a record player properly.

David was delighted with his new football clothes. He kept nipping out of the room to try something else on!

Once everyone had seen everyone else's big presents it was time to move onto the gifts under the tree. We always open them one at a time. At our house it is Mr Housefulofboys in charge of handing out the presents one by one, at my parents' it is my dad. Nobody can open a present until the previous one is opened and everyone has seen what is inside it. I have always loved doing it this way, as everyone gets the enjoyment of everyone else's presents getting opened as well as their own. It also means that the gift opening part of the day lasts for much longer. I didn't time how long it took this year, but it took at least an hour and a half!

Christmas morning then continued lovely and chilled. Everyone enjoyed playing with and building their new toys. And the bigger boys were only too keen to help out with the Lego building.

The soundtrack to our morning was provided by a record James had chosen for Calum from the charity shop where he has a Saturday job.

Meanwhile Granny and Shen were busy in the kitchen making our Christmas dinner.

The boys helped set the table nicely and it all looked lovely.

The starter.

Calum's choice of Christmas jumper was heavy in sarcasm. He most definitely is not a fan of sprouts!

The main course.

Chocolate Orange Trifle.

Gluten and Dairy Free Christmas Pudding.

And finally, here we all are (minus my dad who was behind the camera) ready to tuck into our dinner. 

Still with me? Thanks for getting this far!

Part Two to follow tomorrow.