Getting Ready for Christmas: A Family at Home

On Pig Row we are not millionaires but since selling Drovers we have had more copper in our pockets. We can go mad with penny sweets at last and to that end we have been spending our pennies on making these holidays a family Christmas at home.

Advent calendars, alternative ways to impress a child.

Carol came up with this cute idea for an advent calendar back in summer but even though many of us love Christmas, summer is a little too early for anyone to prepare for it. I know some do, and to them I say one thing, you're weird. See, had to be said, doesn't mean we don't love you, we're weird too. I mean, we garden on a hillside exposed to the elements, with a short summer and a bloody mindedness that runs through our very core. We also live in Yorkshire, we breed weird, we bring them up weird, and we send them out into the world to be weird. You have to love it or else your even weirder. Anyway, this simple little idea costs pennies, from the paper bags to the computer print outs for the advent numbers to the homemade sweets and cheap little toys inside, from a train whistle (we've had hours of Little D running around the room with that one or our personal favourite where he creeps up behind you and blows it really hard allowing you to jump and bark something as he rolls around laughing) to a tambourine (which he rolls around with on the lounge floor after you have bruised a shin from his last whistle scare. It's like being serenaded by a malicious Salvation Army). In the morning, Little D comes down and points up to the advent paper bags asking for the next one, shame it has to end but at least we can pack this away and use them again (next time, no whistles).

Making an advent calendar on a budget with wow factor that will keep toddlers glued for 24 days.

Christmas isn't just for kids, it reminding us that inside we are all kids and there is nothing better than getting out and about at this time of year. We went to an old fashioned day out, more on that later in the year or early next, depending on how much we've drunk by the 24th. Andrew finished work yesterday and even this blog post has been scheduled to fill that hole that is forever known as Andrew-and-Carol's-blow-out-after-selling-Drovers-finding-pennies-down-the-back-of-the-sofa-and-opening-the-home-brew-carefully-stored-since-summer-and-yes-we-may-go-blind-from-the-rhubarb-schnapps-but-it's-only-temporary-and-homemade-bread-will-soak-it-all-up-but-we-best-not-bake-it-pissed-like-we-did-two-years-ago-and-end-up-making-a-ginger-bread-house-out-of-flat-breads-at-three-in-the-morning. Andrew wants to point out that the man below is not him after Movember but is in fact a lovely old man with a pipe organ at our old fashioned day out, during which Little D queued to see Father Christmas, soiled his nappy whilst waiting and we all whistled to cover up the smell.

Old fashioned pipe organ being cranked. Great tunes.

This is why in this photo Little D is edging away from Father Christmas, trying to pass the obvious stench back to him. Funny, if it wasn't true. Little D did point out to Father Christmas that the house Father Christmas was in had windows and that his wellies rocked compared to the man in red. It was also pointed out that on the naughty list outside, Andrew was at number two, he was upset and had to go and see Father Christmas too. Again, funny if it wasn't true. 

Our toddler meets Father Christmas, Santa Claus and holidays are coming!

Back home and the Christmas spirit took us, thanks to the rhubarb schnapps, and we got busy making Christmas wreaths with dried cinnamon oranges. Carol has been eating these even though they are officially decorations but then again, Little D has been licking the baubles and the glass counter at the local butchers.

Dried cinnamon oranges, the first stage before drying.

Christmas wreath made from holly, yew and dried oranges.

We made ginger biscuits for the tree, they tasted delicious and never made it to the tree. Little D consumed his weight in them on the day they were baked, surprising he had room for them after all that bauble and butcher counter licking.

Ginger biscuits for the tree but they never made it.

After Little D went to bed, weary, spent and running on alcohol we finished putting the Christmas tree up only to be faced by a disgruntled looking snowman. 

A snowman bauble for the tree.

He was placated by us buying him some play mates.

Snowman bauble for the tree, snowman sledging!

Snowman bauble skating.

Snowman bauble giving.

Which brings us neatly to things that are old, and things that are new and things that mean something to us. This little horse for the tree was brought by a friend to celebrate Little D's first Christmas. 

Silver horse for the Christmas tree, each bauble should have a memory and a story behind it.

We also came across this Nativity in a local shop, never opened, half the price and crying out to be brought home. As Little D plays with Melissa and Doug toys anyway, this Nativity made by them too, seemed a natural extension to his toys. A way of him interacting with a story without fear of him breaking it.

Nativity that your child can play with without you panicking.

This is why these precious cardboard angels from Carol's Grandma are firmly placed way out of Little D's way. These delicate objects are now in their fourth decade and putting them up gives us a link to a lovely lady who is still very much missed by us all.

Keeping old keepsakes for the decorations.

That is the essence of a good Christmas, living in the present, celebrating those things and people you loved from your past and hoping that through kindness you can make a better future. So, enjoy your Christmas at home or away and spread some kindness this year, stop and listen to a friend, hug a family member for no reason other than to just to hug them and whatever your faith, your belief, your religion, may the season be a happy one, a peaceful one and a one that will keep you smiling throughout 2013.