Christmas in our new home

Christmas is over and I trust that the festive period has been good to you.  After a hectic year we were determined to make this a good Christmas.  The tenth Christmas that Lucinda and I have celebrated together and the first in our new home is reason enough for it to be a good Christmas.  Add to the mix that it was our first Christmas as a family of five and we were truly blessed.  The fact that Lucinda’s parents were cooking Christmas dinner and that neither Lucinda or I were working (we both work in industries where that is a possibility) added to the fact that this was a good year. The only black cloud on the horizon was the fact that I had to work on Boxing Day (there were 10 Premier League games scheduled), but that was a minor blip.

Football stops not for man nor beast and indeed the Christmas period is one of the most hectic periods for Premier League football and the remainder of the English Football League.  Hence the 10 days to a fortnight that many of you enjoy does not apply to me or my teams at IMG.  However, I was fortunate that I had both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off and the 27th December.  So a little semblance of normality could descend upon the Bagnall household for those days.

One of the Bagnall Christmas traditions is to create a Christmas bauble at Genevieve’s in Englefield Green.  This started when Éowyn was a baby with a simple handprint and each year since we have created a bauble with a hand print of each of the children.  This year though Éowyn asked if she could design her own, to which we agreed.  Not sure what we were going to get we let her loose with the paints.  We were very surprised when she decided that she would paint mommy.  It was brilliant, we were very proud of her.  However there was a pang of guilt in our first born and she conspired along with mommy to go back to Genevieve’s and make one of daddy as a surprise for me.  It was extremely thoughtful and again brilliantly executed.  These will now always have pride of place on our tree (there is a photo below).

Friday night is movie night in the Bagnall household and the girls take it in turns to choose a DVD to watch.  The Friday before Christmas we decided to invite Emma’s (our new neighbour and friend from NCT) kids over to give her a bit of a break and to repay her for the help she has given us over the last month or so.  Five children (and I) sat down to watch Arthur Christmas (very good by the way, thoroughly recommend it) for the last movie night of the year.  They were all very well behaved and it made us all feel Christmassy putting us in the mood for the yule.

The weather wasn’t exactly Christmassy, indeed the strong wind and heavy rains have spoilt many Christmasses around the country.  We got off lightly with the only damage a couple of fence panels that have blown down.  Fortunately the fence is our neighbour’s responsibility and so we will have a chat with them after the Christmas period about the repair – there is no rush.

Lucinda’s parents were cooking Christmas Dinner so we decided that we would do our first bit of entertaining in Bagnall manor by inviting the Cathrall Clan to our house for a pre-Christmas buffet on Christmas Eve.  Before our guests arrived we need to complete a little bit of shopping.  Not for that much food (Lucinda had completed the food shop a couple days previously, with only the perishables to be bought) but for a couple of last minute presents.  The most important being a Barbie Mariposa doll that Éowyn had asked Santa for a week or so ago but had only let her parents know the weekend before Christmas.  Obviously she had told the most important person but it would have been nice for us to be aware of what Santa needed to provide, hence a slight detour into Staines on Christmas Eve morning to ease Santa’s burden by picking up the reserved doll that was sold out across the area.

So with the final presents, spare lightbulbs, fresh bread and the Christmas Radio Times bought, it was time to prepare the meal.  Thankfully it was a minimum amount of cooking, just preparation.  It was good to test the entertainment potential of the house and it was the first time that Lucinda’s brother Steve and his family had visited.  The difference in size between our old house and our new home was ably demonstrated by the fact that it didn’t feel at all crowded with 8 adults and 7 children where it would have been standing room only in Stanwell Moor.

The girls were excited as ever playing with their cousins and showing them their new home and their toys, and we let them stay up late to play.  We allowed them to open their presents from Uncle Steve and Auntie Zoe since they would not be at Lucinda’s parents on Christmas day.  So the pre-Christmas came to a close and after the girls had been put to bed and we had tidied up we eventually crept into bed at 00:30, fearing an early morning wake up call.  Fortunately the previous day’s excitement had obviously worn them out and they did not surface until 08:00.  Amélie was the first to wake (as usual) but had just come into our room without checking to see if Santa had been.  It was the encouragement from us and Amélie crashing about the room that had woke Éowyn up.

They were both unbelievably delighted that Santa had been and were jumping around the house and that was even before they opened their presents.  Imagine their faces when they realised that Santa not only had been but had brought them all the things that they had asked for, including the Barbie Mariposa Doll.  We had two very happy little girls and neither seemed too bothered that their brother didn’t seem to have a lot of presents to open.

As anyone with little children can testify, the packaging that modern toys are locked into requires a modicum of engineering knowledge and nerves of steel.  I was fully prepared this year with my trusted Leatherman on my belt (other multi-tool devices are available).  The knife, screwdriver and pliers were all useful at one stage or another to extricate various toys from razor sharp plastic, cable ties and a thicket of cardboard.

After persuading them to eat some breakfast and get dressed they played with their new toys (while Daddy built some of their other ones) until it was time to leave for Nanny and Granddad’s.  Nanny and Granddad were cooking Christmas Dinner for eleven: the Bagnalls, Lucinda’s brother Mike and his family and themselves.  After sating ourselves with traditional festive fare it was time for a third round of present opening.

After such an exciting day it was inevitable that the girls started to wane.  So after presents were opened and played with and the discarded wrapping paper readied for recycling all were herded into the car.  The journey between Lucinda’s parents and our home is less than 10 minutes but 2 of the 3 kids were asleep by the time we had pulled into the drive.  Only Éowyn managed to keep awake.

The following day is known as Boxing Day in the UK and is traditionally a big sporting day so as Head of Live Operations for the World’s largest independent sports production company I was to spend the day at work.  Lucinda and the kids were not to spend the day on their own.  Lucinda’s Auntie Sally and Uncle Bill had invited the family over for a Boxing Day buffet.  Unfortunately before I left for work I had to be ‘bad’ Daddy.

We have had an on-going battle with Éowyn sucking her thumb for comfort.  We have tried many things and none has yet worked and we are getting concerned that it is affecting her teeth so we have renewed our efforts to put a stop to it.  In the lead up to Christmas, we had threatened to call Santa and tell him, but after Christmas Éowyn thought that she could get away with it.  She was wrong.  She had promised me that she wouldn’t suck her thumb so to highlight the importance of a promise when she blatantly sucked her thumb on front of me, I told her that she had to give me something that was important to her.  She tried offering me chocolate or one of Amélie’s toys.  Clever, but not quite what I had in mind.  Eventually I got her to give me her favourite toy:  The Barbie Mariposa doll.  She was distraught and to be fair I felt really bad about taking it but if she is going to understand the importance of a promise and at the same time break a bad habit it had to be harsh and something that was important to her.

After five days she got the doll back (as she did not suck her thumb – even at night! – again).  She does know, however, that if she sucks her thumb again it will be 10 days of no thumb-sucking before it is returned; then the next time it will be 20 days and that will be her final chance.  After that she will lose her doll.  We have said that we will help her but she has to make the effort and that promises are important things.

It feels really bad to do that, especially at Christmas, but we have to break the habit and if we are to highlight the importance of a promise then when we promise to do something then we have to follow through too.  Doesn’t make one feel any better about taking your daughter’s favourite present off her.

With my work schedule leaving me with Friday 27th off it seemed an ideal opportunity to have a second (third) Christmas with Nanny Fran and Aunties Mary and Liz.  However, as that was my only day off I didn’t really want a round trip of 250 miles added to a hectic schedule.  Therefore Nanny Fran came down and took advantage of the bigger house and stayed overnight heading back Saturday afternoon.

The girls were over excited as usual when their Bagnall relatives came down, mainly I think because they do not see them that often.  They were spoilt with presents once again and even seemed happy when they opened presents containing clothes.  However, they were more interested in Ezra’s presents.  Isn’t that the way it is always will be?

So with three very happy children and a new home built for entertaining Lucinda and I can happily say it was a very successful Christmas and we are looking forward to 2014.  I trust that you all had a great time over the yuletide and trust that you will all keep popping back for the latest updates in the Bagnall household.

Peace and Love