Christmas Take 1: The Perfect Family Time
The party to end all parties awaits us. All day I have cooked and baked as the children dart in and out from the farm asking "Is it time yet?" They have made great friends with all our guests, many of whom return year after year to share in the magic of Christmas at Coombe Mill. Camp fires, bikes, mud and more, as they play games together and pile into each other's houses for the days leading upto Christmas. Finally at 4.30pm we all go to the local Church for a wonderful family Christingle service. Seeing the active participation of the children in a packed out old village Church with their Christingle oranges and glow sticks makes me want to cry with joy. After, it's mince pies, mulled wine and Father Christmas in the street. We say our Merry Christmas wishes, the children collect presents from Santa and we all head back to Coombe Mill for Farmer Nick's amazing firework display.
The children take advantage of the usually restricted fizzy drinks and pile out together to the play barn leaving the adults to enjoy a drink and chat in the house. The atmosphere was buzzing, the children full of anticipation for the evening and their parents enjoyed a relaxed night off. I think I had cooked enough to feed the five thousand!
We even had a little Santa lucky dip before the children left
When the last of our friends left, the milk, mince pie and carrot were assembled for our secret visitor, stockings set out and children fell exhausted but happily into bed. I then set about the party clear up and stocking filling! Satisfied with the result I fell into bed myself without so much as a 'tweet'!
Never enough sleep, but my weary self is still excited at the sight and sound of our children racing into the bedroom to declare that Father Christmas has cast his magic
"Mummy, Daddy, hurry, we need to open our presents; he has been, come and see....."
Grabbing my dressing gown and insisting on a cup of tea first, we all gather in the kitchen to watch the minutes of pleasure as they rip through from one parcel to the next.
As if this wasn't enough, while everyone dressed, Daddy prepared their main present from us. Oh the excitement as everyone wanted a turn.
Surprise Christmas Quad Bike!
All this before the 10am Christmas Feed Run! Daddy turns into Farmer Nick in Santa costume and it's all aboard for a festive farm ride to greet the animals. Look out for Felix in just a T-shirt.
As we ate our Christmas brunch marveling at the mild weather a plan emerged. Why not go to the beach for a surf? It was all hands on deck with dinner preparations, turkey on low in the oven, wet suits, boards, children, Uncle Mark and Grandma (or Yia Yia as she is known to our kids) all in the car with Christmas music along the way! I can honestly say it was one of my hightlights of the day. I love the beach, and to make it in the sea on Christmas day was such a thrill.
Arriving home to pop on the vegetables, have a hot shower followed by Christmas drinks, Christmas Roast and yes more presents just felt like a the perfect end to an amazing action packed day.
Christmas: Take Two
OK so I may have left out a few bits and pieces along the way........
The little mishaps!
Anyone who claims the perfect day, I am afraid I just don't believe it! Here are our little mishaps which I omitted from my fairy-tail Christmas:
Christmas Eve, mishap 1
I love entertaining and really enjoyed our Christmas party, however I was tired by the time it came to clearing up and putting out stockings. One o'clock and the realization that Alistair's Ski wear was definitely in Guy's Christmas pile made me question everything. It actually took me till 3am to open and rewrap everything to ensure the correct presents were in the correct places, somehow lots had become muddled (note to self to use different Santa paper per child next year!)
Christmas Morning - Mishap 2
7.30am as my weary body staggers downstairs for the grand present opening, we have Theo in tears. His presents have been replaced by a bag of coal thanks to his thoughtful older brother! Being parents it didn't take us long to unravel the culprit and have the presents returned but.....
Christmas morning Mishap 3
In the great present steeling fiasco Guy's main present ended up in Theo's pile! In years gone by we could have fudged things over, but at 9 years old and already sceptical, that was the end of believing in Father Christmas for Theo. To relay the conversation:
Me "Theo, sorry sweetheart, that's Guy's present you are opening" as I see the camera emerging
Theo "It's in my pile!"
Me "Sorry Theo that one IS for Guy, they must have become muddled when Felix took yours as a joke; a simple mistake"
Theo " How do YOU know?"
Theo storms off upstairs leaving the rest of his stocking unopened!
Yia Yia and I make a start on Christmas dinner preparations while Daddy has a quiet word with Theo and we all agree that we can patch over things by Theo helping Daddy bring out the Quad surprise. The idea being that he would see it first, tests it out before the others and the disappointment of earlier be diminished. The plan works, an excited Theo rushes into the house to call his siblings and they all dash out for a turn. 9.50am and the electric blows in the house. No fridge, freezer, cooker etc, etc. I try the fuse box but it all instantly trips out again. Reluctant to admit defeat, but aware the feed run is only 10 minutes away I call Nick in to help. Finally we identify the overfilled kettle as the problem and restore power to the rest of the kitchen just as .....
There is an almighty thud from outside. We all dash out only to discover Guy and Jed in a heap on the lawn and the quad bike a right off! So relieved it was the bike not the boys written off, I really couldn't be cross! We were all a little shocked and stunned, those who still hadn't had a turn were angry with those who wrote it off and all this as the guests assembled happily for the feed run admiring the wreckage. There was nothing else for it but to put it all down to experience, thank our stars we were not on our way to A and E, and carry on with the day as Daddy turned into Farmer Nick!
I am pleased to say that was the end of the mishaps, and the rest of the day really was magical, but it did require a degree in keeping cool, calm and collected to manage the first few hours. It is a Christmas we will dine out on for years to come with some real high and low moments. The quad bike goes to the garage tomorrow; if it is recoverable there will be some strict usage rules imposed!
If you are thinking of a Christmas at Coombe Mill, don't worry, there will be plenty of tractor rides and Christmas fun but absolutely NO quad biking for your children!