My *favourite lyric from a Christmas carol (other than every lyric in Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas), is in the chorus of Little Saint Nick, by the Beach Boys, when Brian Wilson sings in the most matter of fact tone (over and over), "Christmas comes this time each year." Because you know what, he's right. Christmas does come this time each year. I know that some people like to act surprised every December, but we all know it is coming. Here it is again. In England, December is our fourth month of Christmas, the grand finale, if you will. The Christmas parties and activities have begun, and our schedule is jam packed until the new year. We've been preparing since September, **Crimbo is a marathon, not a sprint. Only the strongest can make it to Christmas Day without a full nervous breakdown. I might make it, but I am teetering.
Today we brought our boys to visit Santa's Grotto. A grotto, is a small picturesque cave, especially an artificial one in a park or garden, and something that I had never heard of until I moved to the UK. We booked our tickets ahead online, and had our golden ticket with the boys names on it, scheduled to meet with Santa Claus at 11:00 am. We parked our car in the first spot we could find and sprint walked 3 blocks in the icy air to arrive at Santa's Grotto right on time. We then waited in a queue until nearly noon. This was all too much for Mr. K, who decided to wake up at 2:30 am this morning and not go back to sleep (he never goes back to sleep). Have you ever taken an autistic ADHD child to wait in a crowded shop on 3 hours of sleep? I do not recommend it. I just let him lay on the floor at one point, and all the posh ladies of Cheltenham who were shopping for sparkly heels and other things that I have no use for (cannot afford), had to step around him, as naturally, Santa's Grotto is right next to Ladies shoes and designer purses. There were apparently gold coins hidden in the artificial snow for children to find as they waited, but I did not see any coins being found. Basically it was children in Christmas jumpers tearing apart the display. Santa was lovely, very sweet in talking to the boys and listening, they each left with a small wrapped gift, a smile on their face, and magic in their eyes. I left with the most expensive and worst Santa picture yet. I don't think that my partner was disappointed, because he likes to predict, out loud, that something is gong to be horrible, right when we arrive. It's a delightful habit of his. So, he was probably just pleased that he was right.
After the Santa's Grotto experience, we ventured out to Cheltenham's German Market and ate the most amazing food. I had a full pork roast dinner; roast pork, potatoes- pronounced poTAHtos, brussel sprouts, beans, carrots, and gravy, wrapped in a large Yorkshire pudding. OHMYGOODNESS. It was so delicious, I almost cried. We also enjoyed Bratwurst on buns with fresh doughnuts dipped in cinnamon sugar for dessert- pronounced PUDDING. There were some tears as we waited for food. My partner suggested we head to McDonald's, as it is reliably the kids favourite, and we are classy parents. Mr. L cried and cried for, "food that you eat when you are walking," which took us a while to figure out- street food. He was extremely pleased with his humungous bratwurst, he ate the sausage very quickly then threw half his bun to the nearby pigeons after we told him not to, much to the delight of Mr. K. We reminded the boys that they had just told Santa that they were good boys this year. No one seemed overly concerned about all the lying.
Christmas is in full swing. We have gone to the Panto, it was fantastic. Tonight we brave a Christmas Party with our kids (if you are the praying type, you may pray for us), grandparents will be en route before we know it, we have had a Christmas Fayre, where I was not intimidated by the tombola (thanks Clare). We have visited two Christmas Markets. We are still looking forward to more parties and concerts, and most of all FOOD. This is the year that my partner and I have Cheese Advent Calendars, and that is all that really matters. Cards and packages are mailed, gifts are wrapped, house is decorated. I asked Santa for adequate sleep this year. Hopefully he can make that happen for me. I believe in Christmas miracles.
I put earplugs in my ears to be able to write this in silence. We have the loudest 4 year olds in the world, I'm certain of this. My partner came to see what I was doing, as there was scream fighting right outside the door to my room and I was not intervening. Mr. K is thankfully napping, although we probably won't be thankful when he doesn't sleep at all tonight. I am thinking of wearing my earplugs full time for the rest of the holidays, so if you see me, please lightly touch my shoulder if you would like my attention. Or just leave me alone. Either is fine.
*I would be remiss to not mention that I have another favourite Christmas lyric, thanks to the Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl. If you sing along at the top of your lungs, you will feel amazing. It's an instant cure for whatever ails you...
"You're a bum You're a punk You're an old slut on junk Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed You scumbag, you maggot You cheap lousy faggot Happy Christmas your arse I pray God it's our last."
God bless us, everyone. Happy Christmas!
**Crimbo- what my friend Alex calls Christmas. I try to be like her as much as possible.