Every new year I have a vague kind of notion that THIS will be the year I make some serious changes! This will be the year I somehow alter my entire mindset on the stroke of midnight, January 1st and suddenly become a model example of healthy eating, a fitness fanatic, an early riser and a lover of all that is yummy-mummy positivity. However, the reality is that come January the 1st, the following pattern emerges: Continue reading
Monthly Archives: December 2012
Christmas is something of a bitter-sweet experience when you’ve lost someone you love. Every year, the excitement that builds is periodically marred with a stab-in-the-gut feeling that a loved one isn’t here to share it. This year more so, as some regular readers will know that after loosing Mum 2 years ago, my Aunty – her little sister – also passed away this October. We were very close.
I love Christmas. I always have. But it can be hard when it feels like fate is determined to make it as hard as possible for you. Last year, Grace threw the tantrums from hell all day and the presents all got put away. This year, on top of the loss of my Aunty, an old friend of mine passed away. That’s a whole other blog post – but it was such sad news.
And yet I still love Christmas. (Mr Water birth Please and I even got married on 20th Dec, making it an even more evocative time. All the people I loved gathered together on our special day, dancing till the early hours amongst the fairy lights and mulled wine. Good times. Powerful memories.)
I decided to write this post after visiting the tree where Mum’s ashes are scattered. I go every time I visit my home town, but this time seemed different. I lay down the card and holly wreath we’d brought along and it hit me like a tidal wave: how utterly awful it was to be placing a card on the muddy ground. To be stood in the freezing cold talking to a tree – hoping somehow, somewhere she’ll hear my words. I pictured how Christmas used to be, just a few short years ago: arriving to a warm house, a huge hug and a sherry.
I cried my eyes out.
But things change and life goes on. Grace’s excitement is infectious and makes me even more resolute to have a nice family Christmas.
With this in mind, I’d like to reach a virtual hand out to everyone who’ll be missing someone special this Christmas. The support from people on-line never ceases to amaze me, and this is my humble little way of trying to give something back by sharing some of the things I do that get me through. Maybe they’ll help someone somewhere.
- Light a candle. It does not have to have any religious significance. It can be treated more as a symbolic or meditative act. To create a light and spend a moment thinking of someone special can be a lovely act of remembrance.
- Remember that it’s ok to cry. Tears are not are sign that you aren’t coping; they are a sign that you are healing.
- Toast absent friends over Christmas dinner.
- Make a card. Write how you feel in it. Whether you leave it at a place of remembrance or display it in your own home, it can help to put your feelings into words.
- Donate to an appropriate charity. I have donated to the Hospice that cared for Mum, and got all my cards and some presents from Breast Cancer Care on behalf of my Aunty.
- If you’re reading this and are not bereaved yourself, but have a friend who is, please don’t be afraid to reach out to then at this time of year. I received a text least year saying “Must be a strange time for you – but I hope you have a lovely Christmas and raise a glass to your Mum. She’s with you I’m sure.” I can’t tell you how nice it was to have someone acknowledge how I was feeling.
- A photo bauble:
- Be gentle with yourself. Sometimes, even those we love the most run out of things to say. Don’t expect them to psychically know when you’re struggling. Be strong enough to ask for help, or even a hug.
I wish all of you a Very Merry Christmas – and those of you carrying some sadness – all my love and blessings at this time of year. I hope you enjoy it . . . I’m going to do my damndest!
Please feel free to share some comments about what gets you through this time of year.
Ho ho ho mo fo.
Did I tell you about last Christmas? It was a complete feckin disaster. Gibby was two, and I’d got ridiculously over excited. This would be the first Christmas she wasn’t a baby. The first Christmas I’d properly get to see that little face light up at the sight of her presents on Christmas morning. We’d all sit around in knitted festive jumpers and paper hats (it helps if you visualise this scene with a slightly 80’s-stylee soft focus edge to it, and perhaps a bit of a In Dulci Jubilo in the background) and we’d hug and kiss with delight as our little girl tore open the shiny paper and squealed with glee at the gifts Santa had brought.
The reality was that she woke up in a complete nark, screaming her head off . . . and didn’t stop. All day. Every present was unceremoniously bashed away with screams of “NoNoNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” and if we started to open a gift for her, to get the ball rolling, she went ballistic. She refused even one mouthful of Christmas dinner. She wouldn’t play with anything, she hit, kicked and screamed, and all the presents were put away – still wrapped.
Mummy had a very long tearful walk with the dogs. Daddy started early on the Christmas sherry.
So this year, I have mixed feeling about the approaching big day. I’m hoping we won’t have a repeat of last year – she’s that bit older, and she seems to understand the whole Christmas process a lot more. . . but you never know.
So, I’m guessing I’m not the only parent worrying about Christmas meltdowns, and I thought I’d share my thoughts and plans to try to minimise tantrum potential and the stress in can cause.
SO – Presenting the Water Birth Please Top Ten Tips for Tantrums at Christmas:
- Expect the worst! GOSH I’m such a cheery little Christmas fairy aren’t I? But what I’m getting at is this: if you expect tantrums and arguments, it won’t seem quite so awful if they happen. We want Christmas to be so perfect and it rarely is, so if you mentally run through a few worst-case scenarios – anything better can only be a bonus.
- Have planned activities on the run up to Christmas day. Wrap up and go to the park. Get the glitter and crafts out. Make Christmas biscuits.Even be charitable and visit a nursing home or donate some food/blankets to an animal shelter. boredom is a tantrums best friend!
- Should a tantrum occur, try your best to shrug it off and stay cool. One of the worst things I could hear as a child was “You’re spoiling Christmas.” Don’t let it – You’re the adult. You decide what ruins it or not.
- Make your little one Mummy/Daddy’s Christmas Day Elf/Fairy helper. Give them a special hat to wear and designated jobs to help out on Christmas day, however small. Gibby will be donning her Christmas Elf Helper Hat to help Mummy tidy away wrapping paper, set the table, and feed the cats.
- Defuse the situation. If you feel tension rising – try to stop it in its tracks. Call a time out on present opening. Phone or skype a relative. Have a sing-song and a dance to a music channel. Have a wind down with a Christmas film. Distraction is a powerful tool when a tantrum’s coming on.
- Of course there’ll be lots of stuff going on, but where possible, we’ll be keep things consistent. Bath time/bedtime in particular.
- Sit as a family and make a poster of Christmas rules. Decorate it together and read them together as often as you can. Put it up somewhere prominent and show it off to any visitors so your little one will feel a bit of pride about it. (Try and make them Do’s, not Dont’s, i.e – “share our presents, go to bed on time, kind hands and kinds words, help Mum tidy” rather than “Don’t make a mess, no late nights, no shouting” etc.
- PRAISE good behaviour. Even when it doesn’t seem much. If they’re sitting quietly, tell them how pleased it makes you.
- Lead by example. I read somewhere once that what we say and do becomes our children’s inner voice. Remembering this has saved me from exploding more than a few times. Leave the room and count to ten if need be.
- Keep calm and carry on. It may be printed on every mug/cushion/tea-towel and door mat in the country, but never were these words more apt than at this time of year.
If all else fails I have a VERY large bottle of Bailies! Merry Christmas!
What would your top tips be for handling a Christmas meltdown?
Gibby and I have baked today. I’ll give you a minute to recover from the shock . . .
. . . ok? Good. It’s what we’re doing for a hand-made gift this year. I should start by saying if you don’t already know, that I f-ing HATE cooking/baking/domestic things in general. But getting messing with Gibby and giving a gift with a bit of thought behind it – now that’s something that does appeal. That’s why these biscuits are perfect. DEAD easy to make, fun to decorate, and they absolutely taste like Christmas. Honestly they do! I wouldn’t win the British Bake Off or anything, but they’re flippin tasty (and presentation plays a big part too).
I’ve no idea where I got this recipe as I’ve had it a while now on a scrap of paper in the back of a cook book. It may have been my Mums I think. Anyhoo – you will need:
- 110g butter (room temperature)
- 150g caster sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 220g plain flour
- 1 x teaspoon all spice or nutmeg
- 1 x teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Icing sugar and edible glitter or sprinkly things for decoration
And here’s what you do
- Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees (fan assisted).
- Grease a baking sheet or line with baking paper.
- Beat together butter, sugar and then egg yolks.
- Slowly add the flour (with the spices mixed into it) till you get a nice dough – you may not need it all.
- Roll out on a floured surface to about half a cm , and cut into appropriate Christmas shapes with cutters.
- Bake for 10-15 mins depending on size (till they’re light golden brown at the edges).
- When cool, mix water to a few spoons of icing sugar drop by drop, till you get a nice mixture: runny enough for you and your little one to drizzle over the biscuits.
- Go bonkers with the edible glitter and sprinkles.
Told you it was easy. You can even just decorate with a sprinkle of icing sugar through a sieve if you’re really short of time or inclination. I let Gibby do the decorating herself. As a result, they do not look pristine or picture perfect. They look like a toddler made them, but I think that’s all part of the charm!
When they’re fully set, we put them in a clean kilner jar, with some ribbon, glittery paper on the top, and wee baubles so they look extra pretty. Aw – who wouldn’t love to receive this? Especially with a nice bottle of mulled wine!
Good work my little Nigibbler 🙂