A thud as two little bare feet hit the floor next door, the flump of a bunny and a blanket being pulled along for company, a pitter patter, and around the corner of the doorframe came a little face radiating excitement.
“Is it Christmas!!!!?” said Kitty.
And it was. And with Elma and Pip awake and fed we all piled downstairs to see whether Father Christmas had eaten both the mince pie (Elma’s choice) and the ‘spicy biscuit’ (ginger biscuits lovingly made by Kitty), and whether Rudolf had enjoyed the carrot (yes, yes and yes).
We sat in the glow of the tree and watched while the girls explored their stockings and helped Pip to his, and then opened up our own little collection of lovely bits and bobs; a new tape measure, more washi tape and some of my favourite dairy free chocolate in mine, and washi tape (are you sensing a theme here), chocolate sprouts and most impressively a Lego batman that shines light out of his feet when you press his tummy (which I keep finding behind the curtains accompanied by one or both of my daughters).
We ate breakfast as a gorgeously bright winter sun appeared over the hedge and flooded the lounge with light, and then we rushed around to get dressed and headed off down the hill to church. There were carols and a dear friend to share singing the ‘twidly bits’ with, a church family drawn even closer in joy and celebration and even more impressively a small Pip who actually stayed awake for the service, bestowing beaming smiles on all and sundry, quite to the surprise of many friends who usually only see the top of his sleeping head tucked up in the sling.
And then home to finish up the roast turkey, with all the usual trimmings plus yorkshire puddings, to pour the champagne, to try to persuade Elma not to eat all of her stocking chocolate just before lunch, and to settle down into a day of being just the five of us in our very first Christmas as a five.
Pip was I suspect largely unaware that this was any more special than any other day; he paid polite attention to his presents being unwrapped but I rather suspect that for him the highlights were his sisters’ giggles, cuddles and tickles from his Daddy, and when things got a bit too much, the safety of the sling, and snuggling down on Mummy for a little nap. But the girls, oh they just couldn’t contain their excitement, and there was one little pile that seemed to call to them more than all the others.
A little pile of flat wide slightly squishy parcels, wrapped in Frozen paper. We started there:
Two dressing up dresses, the one thing that Kitty had asked for from every Father Christmas she encountered, and her face says it all. I don’t think there’s been a day since that she hasn’t worn it, and Elma is just as excited by her Anna dress (not least because it has a cape!).
But what was that. Two more flat squishy parcels, smaller, but a very similar shape ….
…well if the girls are going to dress up as Anna and Elsa then why shouldn’t Dully and Monkey too!
It’s possibly my favourite memory of this Christmas, my little girls and their teddies, all dressed up and hopping with excitement.
And there was more to come. New stories, building blocks, fairy ribbon wands to twirl in giant circles, and all sorts of pots, pans and a very gorgeous kettle for the play kitchen.
We went slowly, knowing that we weren’t in any sort of rush, and wanting to savour and enjoy each present as it came, and it was truly lovely to see how happy each little treasure made them. It meant that we still had a little unwrapping to do on Boxing Day, but that’s no bad thing, and for the most part we managed to avoid any full scale meltdowns, though Kitty started to flag towards the end of the day and teeter on the edge for a while. I think in years to come we might slow down even more.
I know it’s really cheesy to say that my favourite part of Christmas is finally getting to give my family their presents but it’s true. I love trying to think of new and interesting things for people, and then when I’ve got them, I’m just itching to share the secret. It’s not to say that I don’t adore the things I was given; I have a reading pile a foot high and when I unwrapped the family’s present to me I may have sighed in happiness, hugged it, petted it and just sat there adoring it for a little while (it’s a Kitchen Aid mixer, something I’ve longed for but didn’t think was within the realms of possibility); but I was so looking forward to seeing the girls’ faces when they unwrapped their dresses, and by the time we got to giving H his present I may have been found just sitting giggling in the corner. He’s been talking about visiting Paris and the Musee d’Orsay for a while and while it’s out of the question for the five of us at the moment, and a family trip wouldn’t have much time for sketching anyway, there was nothing to say that he couldn’t go by himself. So we got him a Eurostar ticket, got in touch with his boss and secretly booked him a couple of days of work, and wrapped up his passport; it was brilliant. I’ve also promised to lend him my big camera for the day, so we can expect a lot of slightly out of focus photos of Paris sometime in the Spring.
And so the day passed in happy contentment; as have the days since. We’re in that gorgeous lull at the end of the year, where it feels like there might be time to read or think or plan for the year ahead, but only if we really want to. A time to fill our days with family and just be happy.