A Perfect Family Christmas.

We had a lovely quiet, calm, family Christmas and I really enjoyed it. It’s one of the least stressful Christmas times I’ve ever had, I think. Not because we have any of the stereotypical family arguments at this time, but just because there are normally so many things to organise and places to be, things to do. This year, everything just fell into place somehow and even the Christmas dinner almost seemed to cook itself with no hassles.

On Thursday (23rd) Nel and I were due to drive to Chester to collect mum but with the weather having been so bad we were trying to decide whether to call it off. In the end I made the decision to drive, with the proviso that if the roads seemed too dangerous, I’d turn back. Happily, the A69, M6 and M56 were all completely clear and smooth running and the only difficulty we encountered was that it was so cold that the screen wash didn’t defrost until 3 hours into the journey despite the addition of neat winter screen wash then near boiling water! Since the salt sprayed up from the road was so thick, I had to stop at every services to clean the windows – but then they iced over almost immediately. In the end, I was using neat de-icer to clean them which was slightly better, though the lack of clear vision did cause me to drive pretty slowly so that it took much longer to do the journey than usual. Happily, the return trip was trouble free since I could now wash the windscreen and so Mum was with us for Christmas. I was so pleased as I’d have been devastated if it had been otherwise. Billy had titivated his den so that it was a warm and welcoming bedroom for her – and he’d even bought flowers and arranged them on her bedside table, which earned him Brownie points with both wife and M-I-L 🙂

On Christmas Eve we had a wander into Hexham, and had a coffee break in Café Nero for which Nel joined us after her dog-walking. We cooked the two turkey crowns, the gammon joint, as well as a goulash for dinner that evening. I also made the stuffing for Christmas dinner, using the homegrown sage harvested earlier in the year. During the week or so before Christmas, the whole family had been asking me when they could start the Christmas food and drink and I’d replied “When Mum/Granny is here” (you’ve never seen a family so keen for her to arrive! 😉 ) We therefore started on the goodies that evening 🙂

On Christmas morning, Mum and I were up first and had breakfast, showered and dressed before anyone else appeared. Raji was next, having got up early to wrap his presents 😉 Eventually, by about 10.30, everyone was up and we were ready to open all our presents – and there were lots of them despite promises to keep it all low key this year. We all did very well, and for Billy and I the theme was books. I now have loads of unread books which is treasure beyond compare – I love the anticipation almost as much as the read. 🙂 The cats all enjoyed the paper as well as their stocking which Nel had bought for them – she had bought one for her hamsters too so the pets all got to enjoy the day as well. After we’d tidied up, I told everyone they could do as they pleased until dinner and that I wanted them to present themselves at 12.55 ready for a 1pm dinner and they were to be prepared to have a fun, festive, family meal. And they did. The “children” don’t normally like to eat with us but they know how much Christmas dinner means and we had a really lovely time with everyone relaxed, laughing, and clearing their plates. After the Queen’s Speech, Mum insisted on washing up and Raji dried, and then Mum, Nel and I played Cluedo which was fun. Next, the Wii, which we’d bought last Christmas,came out and the men and Nel demonstrated Bowling, Golf and Boxing for mum. Still full after dinner, we all just nibbled as we wanted rather than having a proper tea, and I had a play with the present mum had given us as a family – a wooden Sudoku board. I’ve never been able to do Sudoku and just not got the knack, but I started dabbling and Raji gave me some pointers and that was it – HOOKED! All over Christmas I was playing with it and it’s now permanently placed on the chest in the living room ready to be played. In the evening, Nel and Mum watched Coronation Street and the day drew to a pleasantly chilled close.

On Boxing Day Stephen, Billy and I went to our Newcastle v City football match, Mum and Nel had a girls’ day together and Raji went to work.

On Bank Holiday Monday, we girls all went to the Metrocentre and though it was busy, it wasn’t as bad as I had feared. We found a parking spot without too much trouble, and we managed to get round the shops we wanted as well as being able to have lunch in our favourite coffee shop. We all bought something in the sales and were pleased with our bargains – Nel definitely came out tops though and seemed to get a lot for her money 🙂 She and I then trekked over to Pets at Home to get some hamster bits she wanted, leaving mum in the car, and then we drove home. We had roast beef for dinner, but just as I was dishing up, there was a power cut! It’s a good job I like candles and have some strategically placed battery operated LED lights for just such eventualities because the power was out for two hours! (It was a widespread one too, affecting a large part of Hexham, and my only guess is that some snow and ice may have thawed and flooded something causing the outage.) So we ate by candlelight, mum packed by candlelight, and just as we settled down to amuse ourselves (by candelight) for the evening, with a saucepan of water boiling on the (gas) hob for a cuppa – the power returned 🙂

Mum and I left after breakfast on Tuesday to go to the City v Villa match and then on to her house where I was staying for the night. Lee had been house and cat sitting which was a last minute arrangement and one that suited both he and mum admirably, and Rocky was pleased to have his Mummy back and enjoyed lots of fuss. We had an easy egg and chips dinner, a few drinks, and then an early night. I must have fallen asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow as I woke up in exactly the same position as I landed on going to bed 🙂

On the Wednesday, we mooched round her nearest shops and had lunch in Pizza Hut (where we were very dissatisfied with the service, though the food was perfect) and then I had a very smooth drive home in the afternoon.

I really loved having mum stay with us (her first visit to us for a couple of years, what with our various other commitments and her hip operation) and everyone else had too – even the pussy cats who were quick to spot a cat lover! (Zeb was particularly taken with mum’s lap whenever she was trying to read her newspaper, which was funny.) Everyone had entered into the spirit to give me a perfect family Christmas with those I love most in this world, and Billy in particular had done a lot to help make it happen.

2010 was not an easy year, but it did have a perfect Christmas to round it off 🙂

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