Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Blog 54 (13) I had forgotten...

Blog 54 (13) I had forgotten…

No I have not forgotten about you my dear, loyal readers…even though it has been so long since my last blog…what I have forgotten is the excruciating pain that losing a parent causes…without any hints or warnings my father passed away…gone…forever…without a last goodbye or kiss… just suddenly one day in February...this dreadful shock doesn’t seem to leave me…the sadness that after all these years he was alone at what must have been a frightening time for him will linger with me…yes I had truly forgotten the actual physical pain… the sadness…the lying awake at night and the crying until the early morning…I had forgotten about the need to weep silently in the shower and pretend to the outside world that I am okay; that yes this is life and that yes we will recover but it has been such a long time ago that I lost my mother and my 'big sister' that I think I had become complacent…almost as if we would never be touched with such deep sadness again…it has brought me sharply back into the real world and the fragility of our lives…here today…gone tomorrow… I had forgotten how hard it is to face each new day knowing that I will never see his smile or hear his voice again…I had forgotten how much it hurts to lose a link with loved ones and now he is gone the final link with my mother and all his memories are gone too...

Do not judge me for writing a blog… I just needed to do something in these dark, tear filled days of regret and guilt that I had taken my eye off my father whilst dealing with plumbers, leaks and floods; absent kitchen fitters…you name it we are still stuck in the middle of such a bomb site once again…and whilst I was self-absorbed in wedding preparations and all things petty to do with the house…I didn’t notice if there were any signs that my father would just simply die one morning whilst I was out shopping for a hat… I wasn’t there for him like I had been so many times before over the years…and no matter what people say to me this hurts…this is hard…this is quite basically… shite…

I know from experience that one day I will be able to talk freely again about him, one day I will be able to laugh at all the funny times we had…but for now...for today here is a little piece I had written a while ago…not for my blog…just something I was writing…

In all fairy tales…there’s a beautiful young princess and a handsome young prince and they fall in love at the first sight of each other from across the ballroom…in the early 50’s it was fashionable to go to the local Church hall once a week for a dance and a non-alcoholic drink. Where the young ladies would sit around the edge of the dance floor talking about the latest fashion whilst trying to eye up the competition as well as the talent and the young men would exhaust all conversations about football in an effort to appear aloof, making them more desirable [in their eyes at least!]

Picture night in December 1950 as the music played on in one of these church halls two dashing young Irishmen entered, suntanned, dressed in silk shirts and soft cashmere suits handmade by a Jewish tailor in New York. Both had just alighted their Merchant Navy ship in Liverpool and were on route to stay over with a friend. The pulse of the music and the draw of the young ladies had been too much to ignore and so they had popped in on the off chance of an evening’s light entertainment. Spotted by a group of the young ladies one of the Irish sailors decided to home in on the positive vibes he was picking up and so with a smile, a slick back of his quiff, a slight swagger in his stance, he made his way across the dance floor to the group, with every intention of asking the extremely attractive dark haired girl if she would like to dance.

One of the other young ladies spotted him; she was dressed in her old familiar blouse and skirt, nipped in at the waist with a belt and a small brooch on the lacy collar. She was uncomfortable, being reluctant to attend the Christmas dance and had really only come to keep her friend company instead of staying in the comfort of her own home and listening to the radio with her brothers. She looked up and smiled briefly, noticing his gaze was on her friend and that her friend was freshening up her lip stick in preparation. Great! She was now going to be the wall flower again whilst her friend was whisked around the dance floor by this extremely handsome young man with bright, piercing blue eyes…

However, having seen the preening in advance of his invitation to dance, the young man was pompous enough to ignore the dark haired beauty and ask her timid looking friend instead:

“Hello, would you like to dance?”

“Er, don’t you mean my friend?”

“No, I’m asking you to dance.”

“Oh, I can’t dance.”

“I’ll teach you.”

He took her hands and led her to the dance floor, placing his arm around her waist and pulling her to him: he knew then that this was the girl he would marry.She knew that this was the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with...

If you haven’t already guessed…the Irish Sailor is my dad and the timid wall flower is my mum. Oh, and the dark haired beauty is my godmother…

Rest in peace dad…reunited with the only woman you ever truly loved…xox

Blog 54 (13)


Thursday, 31 January 2013

Blog 54 [12] It has been some time...

Blog 54 [12] It has been some time...

Where have I been and what have I been doing I hear you ask…it has been some time since I have had the opportunity to sit in peace and quiet and write! I have had a very hectic month with lots of things going on and then also having suffered from the dreaded virus that most families have been suffering! Literally I have not been able to completely clear myself of the awful headache, earache, sore throat, tiredness, sore joints…you name it I’ve had the symptoms! So on the days when I was feeling a little better I’ve been organising my kitchen cupboards, sorting through all the old crockery and cutlery and filling the charity bags; where does it all come from? I progressed to clearing the junk in the study that the central heating engineers had pulled out of the loft in order to remove the now defunct water tanks…the ‘Bridezilla’ is now sporting some beautiful ‘vintage’ dresses and a wonderful silk lined jacket that I haven’t seen or been able to wear for 18 years! Yes can you believe it’s been that long since the loft was completely cleared? Although there still are a few boxes untouched and of course Christmas is now packed away up there! So now the study is almost cleared of junk…it would have been completely clear had I been able to stand on the very top of the ladders; I never go in the loft but as the ‘Hubby’ has been so stressed lately with the state of the kitchen I thought I’d be helpful…ah well these things happen…I stood the ladders in the same spot as he does…I stood on the little platform thing at the top so as to reach the loft door…he makes it seem so easy as he pushes the lid and turns it and hands it to me…I pushed the lid…missed it as it turned reached forward to grab it and felt the ladders sway…split second decision: grab the loft lid which is far heavier when you’re standing on ladders and fall over the bannister or let the lid fall over the bannisters and save myself…I lived to tell the tale and so far the ‘Hubby’ hasn’t noticed the chunk out of the wall or the fact that the light fitting is looking loose…I may have grabbed it at some point in my distress…
I’ve also been glossing paintwork and stripping the bathroom of the old tiles and dado rail in preparation for the new shower…which of course is no where near being started as the plumber we wanted has retired; the second plumber is recovering from an illness and the shopkeeper where we bought everything from simply smiled with no understanding of my ‘wifezilla’ glare when he announced they are all booked up but can start in May…he was totally unmoved by my outburst;
“What? I have 4 bridesmaids, a bridezilla and myself to get ready…with one teeny tiny ensuite…?” Well it’s not his problem…so you can guess this isn’t going to go smoothly either… a bit like my kitchen fitter being away for a week; ah the bliss to be away from all the hassle…!
The reason why I’m now sitting for the first time in peace and quiet is because the poor little ‘Cutie-pie’…yes I’m reverting to his original nick-name for today…is now poorly in bed with the same head cold, or is it flu? He’s most disappointed that this week off has caused him to lose the 100% Attendance award but quite frankly he was too poorly to get out of bed on Saturday morning last weekend and so he has remained holed up in bed with lots of medicine, fluids, fluffed up pillows, snuggly pyjs, Vicks vapour rub and the all important…remote control for the T.V! Although to be fair his eyes were streaming so much at the beginning of the week that it’s only today he’s sitting up in bed with the telly on…and of course me at his beck and call! Here’s modern technology for you…as he has had no voice due to the worst sore throat of his young life he has resorted to texting me today from his bedroom!
“Pls cn u bring water…
Pls cn I hve ice-cm…
Pls cn I hve soup for dins…” But the best of all his messages has to be…
“I love u loads mummy xx” He must be ill he hasn’t called me that for years!

So first of all Happy New Year to you all…even though we are at the end of January now! I do hope you all have had a lovely Christmas celebration and that your January has been a good month despite the weather; my Christmas actually turned out a lot better than expected despite the kitchen not being finished completely. Yes, disappointing as it is the cupboard doors STILL have the wrong hinges, the plinths STILL need to be cut and drilled and fixed and the drier STILL can only be used with the cupboard door open…mmm supposed to be integrated appliances but it’s not quite turned out like that! Two days before Christmas Eve the new flooring arrived in the conservatory but we had to let it settle before we moved the furniture back in and of course this meant that right up to Christmas Eve we were still painting the walls and washing the blinds and windows free of the dust. The furniture was finally moved back in-situ but my tradition of setting the Christmas table ready on a Christmas Eve had to be abandoned…I simply ran out of time! By the time the fitter had left and I had swept and cleared boxes in an attempt to have cutlery and crockery ready for the big day and finally managed to set my tree and living room ready for Santa’s visit it was very late at night indeed…and as luck would have it just as we had filled the stockings and laid the presents out for the morning the middle set of lights on the tree fused! Yes finally I had a finished Christmas tree but it had a dark middle…typical! I realised that I am more of a perfectionist than I thought I was and the fact that the house was not exactly how I like it at Christmas was almost enough to throw me over the edge! BUT…we had a magnificent Rangemaster stove in which we set the turkey at 5.00am on Christmas morning to cook slowly…and it warmed the kitchen, taking the chill off the new larger room. The ‘Hubby’ and I both stood and stared at this wonderful addition to our home and both admitted to being in love with it! It is beautiful and I have dreamed of this cooker for years. The sheer delight of the ‘Hubby’ roasting potatoes, steaming vegetables, baking cakes and pastries has been the best Christmas present I could ever have wished for…he is a really happy ‘Hubby’ in the kitchen now and the fact that it’s not finished didn’t spoil our special day!
Both the boys loved their presents and I have to admit I felt a pang of sadness in that I hadn’t been in toy shops like I have over the years…part of them growing up I know but Christmas doesn’t feel like Christmas without a trip to ToysRus…I will just have to shelve that feeling until a new generation is born…then I can splurge! The surprise presents I had bought during our trip to Liverpool were a huge hit…the look on both their faces when they opened a gauntlet [for ages 17 and up...!] like the one from their favourite Play Station 3 game actually made me warm and happy inside; just like when they were little and they’d open the remote control car or Lego construction set that they had talked about but had not expected to get! Thing is now, have I set myself the impossible task of finding something next year that they know nothing about? With all the fuss and problems leading up to Christmas I was worried that their day would be spoiled but do you know what? We had one of the best Christmas days we have had in years; just super chilled and cosy! Due to the problems with the kitchen and the fact that we had no idea what the house would be like for Christmas we arranged for the mother-in-law to spend the day with her eldest son and his family and my youngest brother came home from Wales to spend it with my father. With both sets of parents cared for we had a somewhat different kind of Christmas! The day started with the turkey going in the oven at 5.00am and then we slept until the boys woke up at around 7am’ish! Suddenly the house exploded into lights, music, wrapping paper and they bounced onto our beds shaking the Christmas bells that has been a Christmas tradition all their lives! As we didn’t have any driving to do we enjoyed Buck’s Fizz, a continental breakfast and stayed in our pyjamas for the morning! I invested in some brilliant funny Christmas jumpers…the ‘Hubby’ was Santa, the ‘Intelligent-one’ was Rudolph, the ‘Intelligent-Cutie-pie’ was the Snowman and I was a Christmas tree! I had also treated the ‘Bridezilla’ and her young man to silly Christmas jumpers too and they wore them when meeting friends for a Christmas day drink! We have had turkey dinners, turkey sandwiches, turkey curry and turkey soup…yes we did have a rather large turkey from our local farm and it was so tasty…the first meal cooked in our new oven! Mmm it makes me hungry just remembering it. Somehow all the weeks of heartache disappeared and we enjoyed some quality time as a family. Over the Christmas period we have read new books, listened to new CDs, watched old Christmas movies, had lazy lie-ins, pyjama days, brunches, walks, bike rides and pure peace. We had our usual quiet New Year’s Eve with the boys and the countdown on the T.V. to the chimes of Big Ben. I have looked with sadness over the passing year as well as happy memories and I have NOT made any resolutions this year. I’m having a change. Instead of making silly resolutions that I cannot stick to and then feel a failure for breaking them I decided that this year I will take each month as it comes and see what happens! Without set targets as a guidance I am completely free of restraints…will I survive?
We have completely re-charged our batteries so to say in preparation for the busy year ahead…and what a year this will be!
First of all the plumber has to come back due to a leak in the conservatory…the fitter is building a new doorway…we have to organise a new shower to be fitted and a new floor is needed to replace the gaping hole where the bath used to be…but most important of all…
2013 is the year of the Weddings!
‘Bridezilla’ will be walking down the aisle sooner than you think…it seems a million miles away now when she was first engaged and talking about her plans; now she has a house, a wedding planned and a beautiful dress waiting for her final fitting!
My beautiful god-daughter is getting married and I have had a wonderful shopping trip with her mother, my longest standing friend…48 years to be exact! We had a great day in the Trafford Shopping Centre SALES! Where I bought the full outfit; dress, shoes, bag and hat!
Also my gorgeous young cousin gets married and we are having a wee break across the water to my favourite place, Bangor Co. Down. I also bought my outfit for her wedding during my shopping trip!
2013 will see the ‘Intelligent-Cutie-pie’ make his subject choices that will affect his whole career as a computer-programmer and he will be preparing for his exams! He will also be visiting Belgium for his History trip and visit the trenches of the First World War.
Perhaps the biggest change of all in 2013 will be the day the ‘Intelligent-one’ leaves my nest and goes to University…oh dear me…the water works are starting again…yes my first born will be fleeing the nest…
but first he has the dreaded A-level exams and even more importantly 2013 is the year he becomes an official adult at the tender young age of 18…!
…Let the celebrations get started…he is having a supper night with some of his friends…no pass the parcel or pin the tail; it’s a whole different kind of celebration now! They’re having beers, pizza, barbecued spare ribs [courtesy of the ‘Hubby’ and his new cooking facility!] the house will be ringing with the sound of the PS3 games…both consoles set up with both TVs and all the lads bring their own controls…they speak a different language to us…everything is wireless nowadays!

…So, now then where did I hide the balloons? Where are the candles? Has anyone seen the cake stand…? I’ll keep you posted…!
Happy New Year!

Blog 54[12]

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Blog54[11]...Bah Humbug...

Blog 54 [11]…bah humbug…BUT…Merry Christmas too!

 ‘Twas  the day before Christmas Eve…when all through the house…not a creature was stirring…not even a… workman…and everywhere was covered in inches of dust…’

At the time of writing this I am sitting in the back bedroom which, you may remember, we converted into a study after the ‘Bridezilla’ moved out…I have had to squeeze through the piles of boxes and junk from the kitchen and am sitting curled up in the cold with a candle on the desk…the sky outside is grey and the cold is sticking to the window…I am surrounded by boxes, rolled up carpets, pieces of pipes and my favourite Christmas decorations waiting to be used… yes you have guessed it; the kitchen is still not finished and there is a problem with the heating hence the coldness of this little room; and the candle? No not for light or warmth just a little reminder that it is nearly Christmas! It smells lovely and I can close my eyes and pretend that my kitchen is finished and that my tree is decorated and lit and that all the presents are bought and wrapped and all the food shopping is done and …and…and…and then I open my eyes to realisation and POW! Back down to earth!

At the end of my last blog I did say that I would be back in the week beginning the 10th December…well here we are … except that it is nearly the week beginning the 24th December! The last few weeks have been so hectic and this week has been a total nightmare and the time has run away with me. I have not had a moments peace…and I have found myself most days holed up in the garage [converted to the family room…] doing little jobs like writing cards, ironing, de-cluttering drawers…anything so that I am able to see the vans drive up for deliveries of fixtures and fittings or workmen…you see the doorbell doesn’t work and if they don’t get a quick response then they’re off and that’s another day gone! The fact that I say I’ll be in all day doesn’t seem to register yet it works the other way round when they say they’ll be here I wait…and wait… the worst part is deciding when to go to the loo because if I stick a note on the door like “Be back in 10” or “knock loudly I’m upstairs and I’m deaf…” am I inviting burglars to have a go?

I had thought that when workmen say ‘It’ll be ready for Christmas…’ then they mean like now…you know…with a few days to spare but I’m feeling that it’s only me that talks about it being Christmas now and that the real Christmas for workers is actually up to midnight on Christmas Eve!! I felt that we had had all the back luck we were going to have at the start of this project with floods and things and that now things would begin to run smoothly …I know I’m in cloud cuckoo land as my mother would say! As I said previously the heating engineers had major problems just as my kitchen was due to arrive and they had another contract to work on so they had to leave me to honour that commitment…commendable I know but I wish they’d stayed! So there was heating in the house, but  a few of the radiators were cool, and of course there was a huge hole in the bathroom floor as well as there being no heating in the conservatory…which now has become damp and mouldy due to this lack of heating… plus now there are pools of water from leaking pipes; the ‘Hubby’ has had to cut sponges up to pad round the leaks in an effort to stem the flow! I’ll tell you how cold it had got in there bearing in mind this is to be our main dining room after the kitchen is finished, I emptied the old fridge freezer in preparation for the new one and there were a few frozen meals that we could defrost for our evening meal…2 weeks later they are still defrosting! Well there are lots of changes but every job creates a new problem…for example the new cooker, dishwasher, washer, drier and fridge freezer arrived before the old ones were collected and the man buying them was delayed which meant all the appliances were standing in the kitchen along with boxes of new cupboards! The workmen measuring a stencil for the worktop had just completed the stencil which had to remain without so much as a midge’s wing of movement so that they could mark the walls and the gas man arrived to connect the cooker. Of course the cooker needed a wider gas pipe so that meant that the connection had to be altered and the fitter was called away for an emergency leaving total chaos for a few days…and of course the new pipes chiselled into my newly plastered, newly painted walls had to be re-plastered and are drying so I still have the painting to do…but there is the light at the end of the tunnel: the cupboards are hinged with the wrong hinges but at least they are fixed to the walls, the cooker is now connected, the worktops are now fitted and so this week the tiler has set about tiling the walls and then he had the floor to tile ready for the next stage: ah bliss I hear you say ah well…

He needed some wood to wedge the bottom tiles and so he sent ME in search of it so he could get started…

I thought that you just walk into the wood shop and say ‘I’d like 3 metres of the thin stuff please…’

Ha! No you don’t…you go to the store in the back of beyond where all the tradesmen go and are so busy that you get in their way…and park in their spot…and bump your car against an abandoned pile of wood because these men are watching and it makes you nervous: then you traipse around looking gormless at the huge sheets of wood: all different types for internal, external, thick, thicker, thinner; you choose a sheet and then a young man cuts it to the size you want…what? I only wanted a couple of strips…in panic I drove to the ‘Hubby’s’ place of work and asked him how do I get the right wood…he is so, so patient…he came with me and talked about 2 be 2 and 3 be 3…and heaven’s knows what and then he called the tiler…for goodness sake I never thought of that!

I have gained a lot of experience over the past few weeks: for example the language of workmen…or should I say the vocabulary; tea 1 without means: 1 tea with 1 sugar and no milk; coffee 2, 1 with 2 and 1 none : translates into; 2 coffees 1 with 2 sugars and 1 with no sugar and finally tea 1 leave it: means 1 tea with 1 sugar and leave the bag in! I’ve also visited the tile trading place where they saw so much of me over a few days that I’m sure they were going to invite me to their Christmas do… [old joke I know!]I had to get some more adhesive…then swop a length of plastic edging for 2 lengths of a square edged edging, then another box of tiles, then return an extra bag of grey grouting for a bag of black, then ask about a different edging…they were always very polite and remembered me so I didn’t have to keep getting the post code right in order to use the trademan’s discount card!

Each night I have been washing up in the ensuite…yes I even stuck the plates under the shower at one point…I have shifted boxes and tried to damp dust around the house to keep the dust down…does it work? Not sure as you can still write your name or other familiar words in it…thank you boys!

After what seems like months with no sink and no washing machine…no water some days…they are now plumbed in and are working round the clock to clear the back log of bedding and towels etc…I know I could have gone to a launderette but when? I have had to stay in the house in case any workmen show up!

Here’s another gripe: why when it’s so cold do they leave the doors open? Icy blasts blow through these open doors and chill me through to the bone whilst they are cosy in the kitchen! I know, I know I’m ungrateful but I now realise that I am not made to cope with all the tools and bits of drills and screws and sawdust and mucky footprints everywhere and I certainly will never be doing this again…that is of course AFTER we have mended the bathroom!

So let’s turn my thoughts to nicer things…ah yes Christmas…I have watched with envy as friends and family have posted beautiful pictures of Christmas trees and other decorations on Facebook. I have envied friends who have had the chance to meet up for coffee, cakes, mince pies and a chat…whilst I watched my very slow transformation! But I have had a break so it’s not all doom and gloom. I went on a coach trip with the ‘Bridezilla’ and some cousins to Birmingham on a shopping trip. This has been planned for 12 months: all that time ago I had thought that by the time we go I will have had my kitchen fitted, my shopping will have been done and I will be able to relax and buy a few extra treats! Ha! Well anyway, we stopped for a few hours in a beautiful little place called Lichfield which had lovely shops and the ‘Bridezilla’ and I visited the Cathedral where an orchestra was practicing for Christmas services; the music was stunning and we felt like we were in a film whereby the heroine walks in slow motion to haunting music; we were walking silently through this magnificent building with our own theme tune! [I didn’t look up, being mindful of the episode in the Durham Cathedral!] The markets were buzzing with Christmas cheer and I bought sugar mice for the Christmas stockings from an ‘old fashioned sweet shop’. [Actually it was set out exactly how I remember sweet shops as a child! How old am I?] We arrived at the hotel with enough time to shower and change ready for a wonderful roast turkey dinner; 3 courses, plenty wine, a few games of cards and lots of giggles later the ‘Bridezilla’ and I retired to our hotel bedroom…where she claimed the double bed! Ah well I didn’t mind it was a little treat away for her too…except that the single bed I was in was very narrow and as I turned over to snuggle down I felt myself slipping over the edge and landed in a heap against the wall! The room was very dark and she laughed at me when I got up to open the curtains a little to let some light in: so that I could see that there was no one hiding in the corner. Then she had to come and check the window for me because I couldn’t get it to lock…what if someone climbed in? Then I stumbled about in the dark trying to be quiet, to get to the bathroom…I stumped my knee against the chair, fell against the wall and as I put my hands out I felt the TV and realised I was walking in the wrong direction…good job she’d locked the window or I’d have ended up on the balcony! Next morning, after a wonderful full English breakfast, we arrived in Birmingham where we shopped until we dropped…literally! Ah the smells of sugared almonds, pretzels, doughnuts, sausages…mmm the mulled wines [two huge mugs actually…!] the hot chocolate…the chill on our cheeks and the music in the air…it was fabulous! The Christmas markets were lit up, the stores were buzzing, the buildings were fantastic: huge 3 and 4 storey shops, all linked with one another! I need to go again just to see the parts we missed!

I have to say that the ‘Bridezilla’ has inherited a bit of my ‘dizziness’; we had arranged to meet up with my cousin and her two daughters for a drink at 1.30pm. Suddenly she announced that we were going to be late and practically dragged me to the other end of the market….by which time of course the mulled wines had worked their magic and I needed the Ladies toilet. In desperation I texted my cousin to apologise for being late as we were in the large bookshop on the third floor in a queue for the loo...why are there only ever one or at the most two toilets for ladies and why are they so far away? Do the men designing these buildings not understand how a lady’s bladder works? Worse still if she has a few children in tow! Then my cousin texted back to say we were supposed to be meeting at 1.30 and did we still want to meet? Oh no! We were so late and they would have wasted time waiting for us! Eventually we emerged just as they were approaching the shop…thing is it turned out that it was only 12.30 as the ‘Bridezilla’ had mis-read her watch! Good excuse though for another mulled wine before setting off again!

The day flew by and I felt all the problems that we had had dissolve away as I enjoyed the excitement of Christmas…my all time favourite part of the year!

My mother always made it magical; as little ones we would come downstairs early in the morning and find the tree decorated and lit up with presents set out in special piles. The fire would be taking the chill off the room and the smell of the turkey cooking and fresh fruit filled the air. My mother taught us how to write our letters to Father Christmas neatly so that he could read what we would like! We sat watching her mix the cake ingredients and we took turns to scrape the bowl or lick the spoon. She let us help decorate the Christmas chocolate log and we made Christmas cards with glitter and pictures. As we got older we wanted to decorate the house with tinsel and paper chains and balloons but we could only put the tree up after the ‘Big-sister’ had had her birthday on the 10th of December. Then of course in our early twenties Christmas was a time for party dresses, new hairstyles and nights out. I think I inherited my mother’s gene for trying to make Christmas brilliant for everyone and I will spend a long time choosing presents, hiding them and then wrapping them whilst listening to Christmas records! I get as much excitement out of giving as I do out of getting!

At college as First Year students at the end of the Christmas term, we were instructed that we were to go bed at 9.00pm and not to leave our rooms until we were called for the next morning. Feeling a bit apprehensive about what the older students were going to do to us, we did actually stay in our rooms…early the next morning we were woken up by the sound of bells ringing and Christmas music blasting out and as I left my room I was amazed at the sight of the Christmas decorations strewn around the corridor, on the doors and a lovely Christmas tree: we were treated to a special breakfast and then a pantomime! It was like being a child all over again, the surprise and that magical feeling! As a teacher I have loved being a part of the Christmas preparation and keeping the magic alive for little ones. In one school the children would all go into the school hall for a carol concert with the head teacher and then the rest of the staff would decorate the corridors in a traditional fashion with paper chains, snowmen, winter scenes painted on the windows and the children would emerge to these wonderful sights and find Santa sitting in the reception area with a little present for them all. Seeing children’s faces light up with the excitement made the effort worthwhile. I have tried to keep the magic of Christmas going for my own children. I introduced different things over the years which have become our traditions: Santas’ elves decorate the tree after we have put the lights on and sat the fairy at the top; a little present is left under the tree for each of them which is usually a chocolate selection box and a Christmas movie and it has been wonderful watching them as little ones to walk into the room on the first morning that the tree is ready and see their excitement; we all have new pyjamas for Christmas Eve and the boys have special Christmas bedding for that night too! We have stockings that we open on our bed first and then I go downstairs and switch the tree lights on and the fire and Bing Crosby Christmas classics playing in the background! The boys never know what they are getting…as they have got older they have printed me their ‘wish’ list of ideas and they have a set budget that they stick to…the best shopping experience for me has been when they have found items on the internet; printed off a list with pictures and information including prices and where to order them from and handed it to me! That Christmas I literally ordered everything on line and wrapped them as they arrived! This year has been slightly harder as I have been unable to pop out as often as I would like but eventually I have their gifts…including a surprise present which is a great tradition because each year I buy them something that they have not asked about on their list but may have passed comment on during the year! The fact that they ‘know’ how Santa works hasn’t as yet diminished their excitement. [When I told the ‘Intelligent-Cutie-pie about Father Christmas and how dad and I were the ones filling the stockings his face crumpled, his eyes filled with tears and he looked me straight in the face and said; “So you’ve lied to me all these years…?” I think I was more upset!]

So here we are…nearly Christmas and I have so much more to do my mind has been so full of the building work I’ve had little room left in my brain for anything else but I think I’ve got it all covered…

the workmen have clocked off now for the Christmas holidays and I have an unfinished but workable kitchen…the set of lights around the middle of the tree have fused…but at least it's still standing...there is dust everywhere…I have some wrapping still to do…I have a mountain of shopping left to do…even some cards still need posting! But we will have a great time just being together, relaxing, the 'Hubby' and I always have a new book each to curl up with a glass of something tasty and afew chocolates, we will be eating at a table instead of resting plates on our knees…we will watch Christmas T.V, play games, enjoy the company of our families and look forward to a very important new year…2013 is the year the ‘Bridezilla’ will be getting married…it’s the year the ‘Intelligent-one’ will go to University…it is the year that the ‘Intelligent Cutie-pie’ will choose his GCSE subjects and hopefully it will be the year the kitchen is finished!

So all that is left for me to say tonight is that I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday…

…stay safe and happy…

…and don’t eat too much turkey…

…OMG TURKEY…did I order it…?

Seasons Greetings to you all especially my regular readers in:

United Kingdom, United States, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Iraq, Italy, Russia, Latvia, Norway, China, United Arab Emirates, France, Ukraine and Canada.

See you in 2013!

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