Christmas is a magical time of year and even more so when your children are still young. This used to be one of the most heart-warming and fulfilling times for me when my girls were little. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it now but just a little of the magic has dwindled now my kids are 17 and 23.
When they were little and excited about Santa’s arrival we used to share the food preparation on Christmas Eve and I found that always helped the time to go a little faster, but it was once they were in bed that the real fun could begin. The sprouts etc. would already have been prepared, along with the rest of the veg, and the turkey would be upside down on its breast, covered in foil and ticking away in a low oven, (I always find this makes for a nice moist breast as the juices run down into it during the cooking period.)
When it came to making Christmas special for my kids I carefully budgeted all year round to try and get most of the things they wanted and I still find myself doing this now. I still buy my ‘special’ family Christmas cards between Christmas and the New Year when they are generally reduced to half price and I store them with the Christmas tree (when I take it down,) so that I won’t forget where they are next year! I buy non-perishables all year round when I see them at the right price and store them in a box under the bed so they don’t get in the way.
I used to give them an Argos catalogue to look through and get them to make a list of all the things they wanted, but always make it clear that they would receive some of the things, and not all of them. In that way they would still get a surprise and I would know that I wasn’t wasting money on things they didn’t want or need. Money was tight and the kids understood that and appreciated what they did have.
But the real magic came into being when they had gone to bed. I used a tin of talcum powder and a hand-drawn template to sprinkle ‘reindeer’ footprints on the carpet, leading from the patio doors and over to the Christmas tree. Santa would have a bite of his mince pie, (I never did like sweet mince!) and Rudolf would have had a bite from his carrot. Santa only ever had milk in our house and the kids thought that was so he wouldn’t get drunk on too much sherry! (The truth of the matter was that my ex-husband was alcoholic and so I wouldn’t have any drinks in the house).
And the one magic thing which Santa did which always mesmerised the children? He could peel a Satsuma in one go and would leave the peel on the plate along with a thank you letter for the goodies, (I’m pretty adept at altering my handwriting.) The kids were always thrilled with that and it’s amazing what a special time you can make for them without spending too much money. After all, it’s the being together that’s important, more than anything which money can buy.