The last week of the school term is a strange one. It should be all fun and excitement as the Christmas holidays approach but after a long Autumn term we find ourselves struggling to fight off the coughs and colds that threaten to ruin the big day itself if we don’t slow down now. The mornings are darker and getting out the door for the school run is even more of a battle than the rest of the year when my herding skills would impress even the Nativity Shepherds. I know I must be tired because normally I can rant for England if the boys aren’t moving fast enough but today my heart was not in it. They were a few minutes late, but they weren’t the only ones, as I, and several other sheepish parents who hadn’t factored in enough time to de-ice their cars, rocked up after the proverbial bell had gone. Actually there are no bells at the boys’ school and today I realise how very grateful I am for that.
John and Teddy have both finished the infant school so there will be no nativity for them this year but tomorrow, if Alex is well enough, he will give us his interpretation of the frankincense third of the Magi; though I suspect what he understands is that he is carrying jelly tots for the plastic baby Jesus, who he is hoping will be good natured enough to overlook the fact that he plans to eat them en route.
Our tree went up a week ago, an annual tradition that exists very differently in my mind to it’s real life counterpart. Before we start I always have high hopes: There will be Michael Bublé playing in the background, mulled wine warming on the hob and lots of laughing as we all have fun hanging the decorations on the tree, which by the way, is always a real tree in my idealised version. Reality started off pretty well; we found the Michael Bublé tracks on the iPod in the kitchen where they have been since last Christmas, excellent. From there though, things took a slight dip. Nick, being the practical man he is, talked me out of a real tree – there was a perfectly good artificial one in the loft and given that I’ve made him go up there dozens of times lately, he wasn’t likely to forget it. As he explained, we can get all the Christmas stuff out of the loft, save the cost of a real one for next year and then after Christmas chuck out all but the very nicest things, as storage will be limited. So we compromise on the artificial tree.
I haven’t been organised enough to sort out mulled wine in advance so a bottle of room temperature Rioja will have to do. Fruit wise, there is only a couple of mouldy strawberries and a bruised satsuma so I give them a miss, after a couple of glasses it won’t make any difference anyway. Next I wanted laughter and fun but what I got was a few festively enhanced expletives as we realised we hadn’t tried to put up the tree for years and it is a right faff pulling all the branches into shape, trying to find the colour coded sections so that it goes up in the right order. Despite trying to engage the kids in helping with the task, they lose interest long before it is finished and go back to arguing over the Playstation. Meanwhile Michael is in the background telling us how it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas and, as Nick curses at the number of broken bulbs in the tree lights, the kids wrestle on the floor over the only nunchuck that still works and I head out to the kitchen in search of another bottle, I have to agree.