Can I please stop gift wrapping yet? I'm developing Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.
This is what happens when you're child is born two days before Christmas and she has nine (yes nine) pre-school teachers to buy for. Parents all over whinge about low teacher to student ratios and how it affects education, but it makes life a lot easier at the end of the year, I can tell you. Well I can't actually because I wouldn't know about that, but I will next year. Three teachers in Kindergarten, four tops.
OK so it's actually a 'me' thing I'm a gift-a-holic. But our girl's been attending a fabulous pre-school and the teachers and carers, after three years, have become like family. This being Lucie's final year, I wanted to make a special effort.
As I did with our elderly ex-neighbor who recently lost her husband (she's a tough one because she's diabetic so no boxed chocolates or bottle of wine shortcuts to be made there). Also our other ex-neighbors had a baby since we all moved, so I just picked up a little something for junior. I do seem to be neglecting our current neighbors - but I say hello I wave...Oh and then there's my domestic support team; our lovely dog walker and Lucie's ex-day care carer, who is now our baby/dog/ house-sitter.
So as I do every year, I've gone and bought more presents for teachers,carers and ex-neighbors than family. I've run myself ragged, zapping through Christmas traffic like a deranged formula one driver, swearing cursing, honking, taking corners on two wheels. But it's like everyone between home and the mall is driving like they're either channeling Fangio on taking a truck load of Prozac. I fall into the former category of course.
One morning after school run I got stuck in the mall car park of all places. So I went up all the ramps to the roof, drove like a mad woman across the roof-top of the entire complex came down another ramp,only to have to take another ticket go into another section of the car park so I could try to get out at an unblocked exit. Getting out of car-parks takes longer than your shopping this time of year. STAY AWAY FROM THE MALL.
Night before last I stayed up decorating the living room and putting out birthday presents. Tonight I'm wrapping Santa's presents, while chomping my way through a pile of apples left out for the reindeer, (with Santa's milk as a chaser). The daddy person has volunteered to tackle the tub of chocolate mouse - uh huh.. I never want to see another apple as long as I live, and I'm hoping like hell we don't get another ant infestation from the apple core's I've scattered around the hearth.
My parents did Christmas so well, and it was about giving as well as getting. I'm following tradition in that we will all give each other presents which have built up under the Christmas tree over the last few weeks. Tonight Santa's bringing three presents for Lucie, previously requested in her 'letter to Santa' which was actually an email. (so much easier for Santa, I'm sure he has an elf or two monitoring his Gmail). This all involves a bit of secrecy, making sure there is no trace at all to be found of the separate and very different garish wrapping paper and glittery ribbons and special gift tags.
Santa also has to bring presents for Buddy. For the sake of you non-doggie people I'll explain that one;
(1) Lucie is of the opinion that Buddy, being a very good dog, would definitely be on Santa's 'nice' list. So getting a present would be a given if Santa is (a) real and (b)all he's cracked up to be.
(2) It's part of the Christmas morning fun, Lucie thinks it's hilarious when Bud unwraps his own presents and does a lap of honor with each one.
(3) Buddy understands the concept of presents, he understands NOT getting presents when everyone else does (especially Lucie). And I don't want to hurt his feelings because he's a sweetheart.
OK so you non-doggie people won't get those last two. Sorry, but if you could live with his 'my feelings are hurt' face then you're made of tougher stuff than us. Even my mum sends him presents.
So as the wrapping paper runs low I sigh. Either relief or exhaustion, take your pick.
Every year December goes by in a blurr - a mad rush to the finish line. But with that comes the moments that somehow make all the rushing stressing and hair-pulling well and truly worth it...
When Lucie was piling those bloody apples onto her Bunnykins plate for the reindeer, and putting down a tub of her precious chocolate mousse and some milk for Santa in her favorite pink mug, her little body was quite literally quivering with excitement. The pure joy in her smile was just exquisite.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS YOU LOT
PS: I'm gonna go and make my husband eat some apples.
PPS: We are flying out tomorrow afternoon for France - yep off to the in-laws again - and I haven't packed my case yet. The dog, hands on his paws, is showing me his most thoroughly depressed face, meanwhile I am in packing-denial.
Below is a less than exquisite demonstration of the difficulties one can encounter attempting to open a wine bottle without the benefit of opposable thumbs.
OK, just kidding - it's a chew toy - Buddy's Christmas present from our dog-walker the lovely and equally energetic; Ingrid.