The Bagnalls at Christmas 2016

You have not had to wait too long to find out what happened at Christmas, so no grumpy faces please.  As I mentioned in the previous post I had used up some leave and DOIL’s to take the week leading up to Christmas off.  Once again, we had offered to host Christmas day and so we could use these days to prepare the house to host 14 people for Christmas dinner.  Some of you with good memories will remember that last year we hosted 17 so where were the other three?  Those three would be my family who couldn’t make it down this year.  Therefore, not wanting to miss out on seeing Nanny Fran and Aunties Mary and Liz, we decided that as soon as the Baguettes were released from school we would drive up to visit them and have an early Christmas in West Bromwich.

The traffic was heavier than usual for a Wednesday afternoon, but being the Wednesday before Christmas then it was, perhaps, understandable.  We arrived early evening in time for tea (as us Midlanders call the evening meal) and just spend the evening relaxing.  The next morning we decided to take the Baguettes up to West Bromwich town centre rather than waiting at home for Auntie Mary’s arrival and our the first of our Christmas meals.

The town centre was quieter than expected for the week leading up to Christmas and so we grabbed an early lunch and then headed in two different directions.  Éowyn, Mommy and Auntie Liz went to the cinema to see Moana – the new Disney film, while Amélie, Ezra, Nanny Fran and Daddy went to the Baguettes favourite West Bromwich haunt: Funky Monkeys.  We didn’t see Amélie or Ezra for the entire time we were in Funky Monkeys such was their enjoyment in the softplay arena.  Presently, Nanny Fran received a message from Auntie Mary that she was at Nanny’s house and Moana finished so we headed back to open presents.

Since the Bagnall side of the family would be in West Bromwich for Christmas day it seemed only fair that we let the Baguettes open their presents (and indeed Mommy, Daddy, Nanny Fran, Auntie Mary and Auntie Liz open theirs).  The Baguettes were delighted with their haul, especially Ezra who received his hero (Darth Vader) in doll form.

After a festive carvery we headed back down the motorway to a house still not completely ready to accept 9 guests for Christmas dinner.  That preparation would have to wait as the following day (23rd December) we were heading with Nanny into deepest darkest Surrey and a visit to Lucinda’s cousin, Joanne.  The Baguettes love a visit to cousin Joanne’s as she organises lots of fun activities for them and this visit was no different.  The fun started with a walk in the woods.  In the middle of the woods we found a half built den, with cousin Joanne’s encouragement we quickly added to it to make a little more waterproof and camouflaged with moss and ferns.  Unfortunately, as the Baguettes entered it Éowyn dislodged one of the branches that make the wall and it fell clattering Ezra on the forehead, scratching his skin.  He was fine but became a little upset which was a good excuse to get a cuddle from Daddy, which rapidly turned into Daddy carrying part of the way back.  He knew what he was doing!

After lunch, it was time for crafting.  Cousin Joanne had bought us all (yes, Daddy, Mommy and Nanny included) reindeer antlers to decorate to wear for Christmas.  She has jars of buttons, stickers, jewels and pots of glue with which to besparkle and adorn the festive headwear.  I think we all enjoyed being in the moment of sticking and gluing, yes including Nanny.  We were all proud of our creations and wore them with pride.  The Baguettes then had angels to decorate, and medals made out of wooden slices to adorn before we headed to the swimming pool.  Cousin Joanne lives in a gated community that has its own swimming pool, so it was quite nice to have a swimming pool to yourself to enjoy.  Éowyn and Amélie loved playing in the pool with their new-found confidence of swimming and ducking their heads under the surface of the water.  Ezra, on the other hand, wouldn’t venture further than his knees.  Therefore, it was time for Daddy to be a little nasty, as I have done with Éowyn and Amélie previously.  I encouraged him onto the steps then deftly swam up to him and grabbed him before quickly moving to the middle of the pool.

Ezra clung to me like some kind of monkey-limpet, much like his sister had done many years before.  However, with a little patience and words of encouragement I managed to get him to lie in the water (still clinging to my neck) and kick his legs and gave him the illusion of swimming to the steps.  As a reward I let him climb back up the stairs and out of the water, but while his confidence was high and the adrenalin was still coursing through his system I encouraged him back in the water to do it again.  Which he did, three subsequent times.  Hopefully, that has taken his fear of water away, however the proof will be the next time he goes swimming.  So, it will be high on the priority list for Lucinda and I to take him back to the water early in 2017.

It was now Christmas Eve and still the house was not ready for Christmas day.  So, a frantic morning of house preparation was how we spent Christmas Eve, however by lunchtime the table was prepared and the house was ready to host 14 people for Christmas day.  Therefore, we took the opportunity to walk around the block to the local Church that was hosting a Messy Christmas for the local children.  Lucinda takes Ezra and her childminding wards to the Church for a playgroup and so knew many of the other mums and children.  There was plenty to do, cakes to decorate, pictures to colour and tree decorations to create and the Baguettes thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

We headed back and settled on the sofa for an evening of Christmas telly.  The snowman and the snowdog, followed by the Muppet’s Christmas Carol and a favourite booked turned into a Christmas cartoon: We’re going on a bear hunt.  The Muppet’s Christmas Carol is high on my favourite Christmas film list and it was made a little bit more special this year.  The Baguettes were sitting on the floor watching the film, while I sat on the sofa.  I thought it was only fair to forewarn the Baguettes that it was going to get a little scary because there were going to be the appearance of some ghosts (5 in this retelling as opposed to 4 in the original novel).  The Baguettes as a mass came and sat next to me (on me in Ezra’s case) cuddling their daddy and stayed this way for the entire film. it made me very warm inside.

Christmas day came and we were expecting the Baguettes to rise early, when the opposite occurred.  Ezra usually wakes about 0630, not on Christmas day it was nearer 0730 and the girls after 0800., perhaps that was Mommy and Daddy’s Christmas present.  All three were very happy with their haul of presents especially the lego sets that we bought them, but spend most of the morning playing with their android tablets that we bought them, Ezra in his Darth Vader outfit that Santa had placed in his Christmas sack.  So, while the Baguettes, played with their electronic toys, Mommy and Daddy peeled and prepared the veg and worked out the timings for the Christmas dinner.

Christmas dinner was a relative success, even though we say it ourselves and an improvement on last year so quite happy with that.  Then there was another round of present opening, the Baguettes were very spoilt and Mommy and Daddy although tired didn’t feel that we needed to crawl into bed as soon as the Baguettes had crawled into theirs.

Now as most of you know I work in an industry that doesn’t honour the Bank Holiday’s in the same way that the majority of the country honour them.  Indeed people tend to forget that when you are sitting at home looking forward to the Queen’s speech or the Christmas episode of Doctor Who there is a team of people making that happen for you and in my department we are the people who do just that – although from a  sport point of view.  Therefore one of our busiest days is Boxing Day, however the Premier League schedule has fallen kindly (in one way) this year and the games have been spread out over the festive period.  This is bad in one way as we need to be in for more days (and I am working 27th December to 2nd January inclusively) but it did mean that Boxing Day was no busier than a normal Saturday.  Hence, I was able to take Boxing Day off without feeling guilty.  My first Boxing Day off in many a long year and probably only the second or third since I began work.

Therefore, while Mommy headed off to the Bozing day sales, Daddy could play with the Baguettes and their new toys.  What was heartwarming was the fact that the shine of the tablet was replaced by the attraction of their, more traditional, toys and all three wanted to build their lego creations.  Therefore we set them out on the dining room table and for hours the four of us sat and played with lego.  What a fantastic day!

Now we are in that in-between time betwixt Christmas and New Year where no one really knows what day it is; we are still eating Christmas food (it is perfectly acceptable to drink a glass of sherry and eat  some of the turkey for breakfast) and we don’t know what day of the week it is but I am at work.  The six days I had leading up to Christmas seem like a distant memory yet it was probably one of my favourite Christmases for many a year even though the call of televised football was still loud in my ears.

I will take this opportunity to wish you all the best for 2017 ahead of the traditional end/start of year post that will appear next on this website, and trust that it will be kind to you.

Peace and Love