I've achieved a measure of Christmas spirit at last! I've finished the last bit of work, told my clients I'm having a break till New Year and I actually baked the Christmas cake yesterday despite the sweltering heat!
We always go and cut our tree on the Saturday before Christmas, so that everybody can be there. The week before, we stroll up to the top of our property, where there are innumerable self-seeded pine trees - alien invaders that it is our positive duty to clear - and we choose the prettiest small one to be our tree.
Yesterday we waited till the end of the day, when the heat was beginning to fade and inspected our short-list of trees. The thing about looking at a tree outside under the sky is that it always looks too small. Our house has high ceilings, but even so one year, the monster tree we'd lugged down the hill had to have a couple of feet trimmed from the base before we could stand it upright. This year we had to vote three trees and the adults managed to sway the kids towards the smaller one, that was a nice shape and a whole lot easier to carry. They were a bit concerned that it would be too small and not have enough room for all the decorations, but lo and behold, when we got it into the house, relieved to be carrying a lightweight rather than a back-breaking monster log, it was the perfect size!
Then comes the traditional sense-of-humour-failing struggle with the Christmas tree lights. It is always supposed to be the Dad who has steam pouring forth from his ears, as one bulb blows the whole string, but in our family it is me. I climb the ladder, keeping the kids in check in their eagerness to pile on tinsel and decorations, get the lights perfectly balanced, yell for extension cables and adapters to test them out. This time they worked fine, looked great and I let the children loose on the tree, while I cooked a belated supper. After supper I couldn't resist fiddling - I put the star on top of the tree and noticed that the bulb behind the star, which ought to highlight it, wasn't working. No problem, I thought, I'll simply change it with another one lower down that doesn't show so much. I promptly managed to tear the bulb wires loose from their socket and the whole string was rendered useless. AAARGH! I couldn't leave things alone till morning. I had to get it right that night, a half dressed tree is too a depressing a sight, so I spent an hour fiddling with bulbs, looking at all the spare strings of lights to find the same type of bulb as a replacement. Nope. This was the only string with that particular shape of bulb. There was no alternative. The children now long gone to bed, I tore off all their carefully arranged tinsel, took down the lights and started again. There was a certain grim enjoyment of all this, at last I got the tree to myself and once the lights were sorted I spent the rest of the evening, half watching Shall We Dance, but mostly re-arranging tinsel and baubles to my satisfaction.
I'm now sitting at the computer once more, this time printing off endless blank calendar pages, for the child sweat shop/elf calendar production team, who have decided that this year's presents are going to be drawn rather than sewn. Present making is a last minute business this year - whereas we usually start making things for Christmas in November and I have plenty of time to help sew, untangle knots and thread needles, this year I've been leaving the children to their own devices, while I try to be a WAHM.
Middle daughter has set to drawing with speed and a light touch and has made two and a half calendars of twelve drawings each, is working on a picture book with plans to make her brother and sister something too.
Youngest battles, with her abilities not quite meeting her high expectations of herself, but is persevering and has nearly finished one calendar. Our son is painstaking with his pictures but tires after one or two and dives back into his latest book He has decreed that this one calendar is for posting off to his name-parent (godmother), so has nothing to give the family here. I've dragooned him into agreeing to make lemon curd for the rest of his presents, as I can't see him producing anything more than a card before Christmas and we have two aunts, a grandmother and an uncle besides our little family to provide for.
I also need to make marzipan for the cake, start on making stripey jellies, wrap presents besides feeding us today and keeping the house clean ..so what on earth am I doing blogging now, when everyone else is too busy doing their own Christmas preparation to read it!
Happy Christmas to all my blog friends - have a lovely family time and may 2008 bring you all good things, peace and happiness!