Christmas happened some time back and I am just surfacing from both the rest and the surge of busyness that followed all of the rest. We moved slowly over the festive period. Relieved to have reached the end of term. We listened to music. We enjoyed parties at good friends houses that were suitable for adults and kids and stayed up late drinking good wine and prosecco. We ate good food. We played games, uno and ludo and cluedo were our favourites. We made lots of coffee, fresh percolated coffee. We stayed in pyjamas all day long. We savoured the smell of homemade cookies and filled the old biscuit tin with cookie after cookie. We had long naps in the middle of the day. We took off for rainy walks and drives in our old car. We had our moments, both good and bad. We drank in us four.
I'm never sure about this season, all the expectation, all of the spending, all of the chaos and family entanglements. Never sure. But this year, despite some stomach wrenching disappointment with family and said entanglements, this year I really enjoyed the christmas holidays. This year I felt like a grown up, able to make choices without any obligations, able to do as I please and it was a good feeling. As we headed into the holiday season, our family of four kept reminding one another, 'let's be patient and kind'. That was the best thing we could have done, of course we weren't always patient and kind but we gently reminded one another to be so and those words became actions.
We like spending time in the city as a family and we did so over the christmas period. I think I will always have happy memories of time spent in the city with these boys of mine. Like the afternoon that we headed into the centre and we each took one boy and split up so that they could buy a gift for one another. It was busy and buzzy. It got dark early and we had a fairly long walk back to the car which we'd parked in Digbeth, during this walk back that youngest boy of mine 'tiggered' his way through busy streets and puddles and sidewalks and curbs, jumping and kicking and splashing and thrashing and causing my hubby's wrists to ache. Of course, that ball of fire promptly fell asleep seconds after getting into his carseat. I even managed to transfer him from the car onto the sofa just like the old days. He slept there for a long time and I thought, 'hey, it's the holidays, let Tigger sleep!' That night, full to the brim with rest, Tigger couldn't sleep and so hubby and I played Ludo with him till stupid o'clock. I didn't really mind, plus I especially loved the way he made fake fart noises with his armpit every time he rolled a six on the dice.
There were happy moments like on christmas day, when the youngest boy disppeared and I found him tucked up in bed, with a bowl of tortilla chips, reading an adventure time comic and loving life. It's the little things, always the little things. Like watching my husband most evenings, in the corner of our living room working on a drawing. When you live in a small house with children that have turned into giants overnight, you need a corner. I admire his discipline and dedication and ability to turn off everything else that is happening around 'his corner'. I love watching the boys watching their dad and knowing that this image of him will be one they keep with them always. Peeking through the crack in the door of the boys bedroom and seeing my boys curled up together on their top bunk. Then hearing my eldest boy reading Winnie the Poo to his little brother and feeling my lip quivering remembering when that big boy of mine was under two and covered in chicken pox and the only thing that would soothe him was watching Winnie the Poo, which we watched over and over and over again for a few days.
The were moments too when the boys spoke words that will stay with me forever. Like when that youngest of mine told me 'Mum, keep this soft bit forever' whilst nestling into my wobbly belly and I could have cried rivers to swim in with that gesture of acceptance. Or when my ten year old sat alongside me whilst strumming his guitar and said 'I don't know what happens but when I play music, I just see a story' and continued talking with the sparkliest of eyes and I could just see all of the romance and angst and heartache and heartbreak ahead.
Sometimes there's just happiness in the simplest of things, for instance that morning when I made cookies for a friend and there was the perfect amount of cookie dough left over to make a heart shaped cookie muffin for my hubby's breakfast. Also, when you decide at 10pm on Christmas Eve that you want something handmade to go in the children's stockings because you realise you don't really have 'little presents' to go in because you decided not to buy for the sake of buying and you figure that satsumas won't be adequate. So, milk and and white chocolate cookies it is, even if you don't have parchment paper to make it look pretty. You fill their stockings with handmade cookies and the next day they give you smiles and hugs of genuine gratitude and fill their bellies with something you made with love, something that you hoped they would understand as perfectly as they seem to. For these simple pleasures, I am grateful.
Life isn't without the odd bruise, but words spoken from the heart and memories made together make up for those falls and the cries that come mostly from disappointment. We took joy in staying indoors and saving our pennies, we embraced the pouring rain and the fresh air, we valued family and laughter and we remembered that it's all about balance. It's all in knowing how to stay warm without getting burned.