So Christmas is over (unless you are a part of the Eastern Christian orthodoxy that celebrate Christmas on the Epiphany – which is probably more accurate for that is when the little baby Jesus received his presents), turkey has been eaten, festive drinks have been quaffed and the presents have all been opened. I trust that you have all had a good time and that Santa has brought you all that you wished for. Well if he hasn’t it was because you have been naughty so you only have yourself to blame! Unfortunately it wasn’t quite a ‘White Christmas’, on the contrary, it was the third warmest UK Christmas on record with the mercury reading over 14°C. A veritable heatwave but you can’t have everything.
It has been a busy couple of weeks in the Bagnall household since the last update so forgive the length of this installment. It has also been fun for Éowyn for the first time has understood the basic ideas of Christmas (i.e. that Santa rides around the world on a sleigh giving good children presents) and so the magic of Christmas has been re-ignited for Lucinda and myself. Now correct me if I am wrong but I was under the impression that most children believe that Santa has a list of children under two headings: naughty and nice, and that in a Big-Brother style surveillance operation that he is spying on them and that only the children on the latter list will receive presents. Therefore one would hope that in the build up to Christmas those said children would be doing their utmost to stay on the latter list or indeed hope that Santa has a short term memory problem and move from the former to the latter in time for the big day. Éowyn has to be different. For months she has been very well behaved, unfortunately in the last couple of weeks her behaviour has made a turn for the worst (although not to the extent of the bad days of the terrible twos when she would spent large percentages of the time on the thinking step).
The last day of Éowyn’s school term was the obligatory Carol Concert (our first as parents – although there were very little ‘carols’ per se, more Christmas songs). I took the day off work and we were joined at the school by Nanny and Granddad. Éowyn was dressed as a sheep (the head came off half way during the concert) and delighted us by singing her heart out to every song. We were obviously very proud parents and filmed it for prosperity. When she returns in January we will be taking full advantage of the free nursery hours given by the UK government (currently 15 hours per week) and upping her days from 2 to 3. She also left school with a traditional gift – a heavy cold. Indeed in the spirit of giving she has passed it on to all of us, including her little sister – more of which later.
Christmas week started with Amélie at Jo’s and Lucinda, myself and Éowyn heading on a mystery tour. We had not told Éowyn that we had pre-booked for her to see Father Christmas at Peppa Pig World (Paulton’s Park). As she was a she a little heavy with cold she slept for the entire journey down the M3 and only woke as we entered Paulton’s Park. The Paulton’s Park Christmas world is excellent with a trip through a sleeping child’s imagination through to the North Pole to visit Santa. The path is lined with animatronic creatures (from yetis to white tigers to sleeping polar bears to dwarfs and reindeer and a whole host of woodland creatures along the way). Considering that Peppa Pig World was fully open and the cost was the same as just going to Paulton’s Park it was excellent value. However it was bitingly cold when we first got there and as the warm air gradually crept in, it brought rain. Conscious of her cold we placated her with a few of the rides before curtailing the trip short and heading back home to the warmth of the moor.
With all of my Christmas present shopping complete the week leading up to Christmas was not as hectic as it usually is, a novelty for me. It was as well as it was quite a busy week at work (with a full Premier League schedule in the mid-week before Christmas) as well as squeezing in a funeral of a friend of mine, Mike Royle, who lost his battle with cancer the week before Christmas and a couple of days before his 50th birthday. My thoughts are with his family.
It has become (or is becoming) a tradition that on Christmas Eve we host Lucinda’s parents and brother Mike and family and it was so this Christmas. With Lucinda at work all day I was charged with the honour of preparing the house and food while looking after the girls. Fortunately, Éowyn was coming out of the worst of the cold which was good, however she had passed it on to Amélie and myself. Not having the chance to feel sorry for myself I dosed myself up and just got on with it. We were fortunate that it wasn’t ‘man flu’ otherwise we would have been in trouble. So the first of the great feasts of the yuletide began and the six months of dieting were forgotten. A good evening was had by all and Éowyn was so worn out that she went to bed after everyone left and was soon asleep. Amélie however was coughing heavily and didn’t finally fall asleep until 2300.
Christmas morning started with the girls giving Lucinda and me the best Christmas present ever: a lie-in (until 0830)! Very well received and thank you girls. So at 0830 Éowyn popped her head around our bedroom doro and said, ‘Mommy, Daddy, Santa has been and he has left me lots of presents. Am I allowed to open them?‘ That will probably be the last time she asks however we were not cruel but said that we would take the sack of presents downstairs to open them in the lounge. She was very pleased with her Cicciobello doll but her Woody (from Toy Story) was the number one favourite toy on Christmas day and would later come to Nanny and Granddad’s for Christmas lunch.
Éowyn was very good with her presents, clothes were given short shrift but the toys were looked at and filed for future playtime. After she had opened all of her presents we allowed her to help Amélie open her presents. As all siblings throughout history Éowyn found Amélie’s presents far more interesting that her own but that did not last long when we threatened to give Amélie Woody if Éowyn didn’t let Amélie have her presents back.
As I mentioned above, Christmas lunch was around Lucinda’s parents (a short walk to the end of the road) where a feast for 18 had been prepared. It also gave Éowyn the opportunity to play with her cousins who re as good as gold with a sometimes stroppy but always bossy three year old. After lunch was mass present opening with five cousins (Amélie was feeling poorly and spent the best part of the day cuddling either Mommy or Daddy). It was manic and I spend most of the time trying to keep an eye on what present she was opening so that we could thank the correct person later. Needless to say both we spoilt so a big thank you to everyone who bought them presents.
We left shortly after the present opening to take the girls back home. Éowyn was ready for bed after such an exciting day but Amélie was beginning to worry us. Her face looked sallow and she was feeling very sorry for herself and just wanted to be cuddled, which is not like her. She had not taken that much food over the previous days and her cough was sounding as bad as ever. We decided that if she was not better in the morning we would take her to the walk-in clinic at the local hospital. The next day (Boxing day in the UK) is traditionally Sales day and Lucinda had decided that she wanted to go to two of the bigger sales available in Staines, Next and Debenhams. So with this in mind we retired early.
Lucinda was not prepared for the sales the next morning, and will need to sharpen her elbows if she is going to go next year. The sale at Next started at 0600 so she arrived in Staines at 0545 (I told you she was getting up early) to be greeted with a queue that stretched half way down the high street. It took her over 2 hours before she even got into the shop but made good of the time she was there and came back with many of the things that she had gone there for. She then made it a double whammy and wandered into Debenhams to find the last of the sale items she had wanted (indeed it was the last one left in the store). So it was after 1100 when she finally arrived home laden with shopping bags.
Meanwhile I was becoming more concerned with Amélie and struggling with the cold myself. Amélie however was very lethargic and not her self at all. She was taking very little liquids and refusing most solids and I was worried that she was becoming dehydrated. When Lucinda walked in, she could see my concern and with the eyes of someone that has been away for a couple of hours agreed that we should take her to the walk-in clinic. I stayed at home with Éowyn and Lucinda took Amélie off. The waiting room at the clinic was almost as bad as the sales. Every seat was occupied and it was mainly babies so they couldn’t jump the queue by playing the baby card. When the doctor examined her he was concerned too. He said that she was borderline dehydrated and realising that Lucinda was very concerned attempted to get Amélie admitted to the local hospital (St. Peter’s where she was born). However when he ‘phoned the registrar at St. Peter’s and described the symptoms they said that she was not bad enough to be admitted (I am assuming that they must have limited staff over the Christmas break and possibly many admissions, so unless it was life threatening they would not admit any more). The doctor was very good though and wrote a fast track letter for us with the proviso that unless there was an improvement – not even a worsening but a definite improvement – in the next 24 hours we were to go directly to St. Peter’s armed with his letter. Well Amélie must have understood, for as she arrived home she began to eat and drink her milk (neocate). She was not going to be admitted to hospital.
A quick day in the office on the 27th was followed by a visit from Nanny Fran and Aunties Liz and Mary. More presents were exchanged, although Auntie Liz forgot her’s and so Éowyn’s and Amélie’s (and Lucinda’s and my) Christmas will be extended another couple of weeks. Do we mind – I don’t think so!
So, the year draws to an end and we are trying to work out where all the extra toys are going to fit in our modest house. Amélie, thankfully seems to be on the mend; Éowyn is beside herself with all the new things to play with, and Lucinda and myself are just knackered. We are proud that we were are getting better at this Christmas thing and were far more organised this year than last (which in turn was far more organised than the year before that, and so on and so forth) but are still a long way from making an excel spreadsheet and ticking all the boxes (does anyone ever manage that?).
Work and family beckon but before I leave you, I trust that you all had good Christmasses and may the Bagnall family be the first to wish you all the best for 2012.
Peace and Love