Well the Christmas feeling has being ramping up in the Chiswick Mum household. I wrote recently about how I was trying to reclaim my Christmas mojo and how faking it 'til you make it was the way to go.
Since then I have been surrounding myself in some of the trappings and frippery of Christmas, and it has begun to work its magic.
I've been to see a Christmas Show (Father Christmas at the Lyric – which I reviewed last week), and dug out our favourite Christmas picture books (because you're never too old for a picture book).
Plus I've been to see the real Father Christmas at Harrods (or 'Arrods as we lovingly like to call it). Now I know some people think it's overboard to see Father Christmas at Harrods, but the experience is just so magical. Sometimes as a grown up you find yourself – shhhhh – DOUBTING whether there's a real Father Christmas.
When Father Christmas gets out his big book, and asks my son about the things that have happened to him this year – things that ONLY SANTA CLAUS would know… then it fills me with enough Christmas spirit to sustain me throughout advent.
Of course there's the obligatory photo session with Father Christmas, with the photos on sale outside at Ithink around £17 for four largeish ones.
“I'm not buying the photo,” I hissed to Chiswick Daddy as we came away.
“But this might be the last year Chiswick Boy, you know… believes….”
Yep. Chiswick Daddy bought the photos. And actually I was secretly pleased.
On one of the shots Father Christmas had asked Chiswick Daddy and I to join them.
“That's right, Chiswick Boy – you snuggle into mummy. And Daddy, you snuggle into her on the other side. And I'm here. And there's mummy, surrounded by love…”, Father Christmas had said.
Must have had something in my eye… got a bit dewy.
Outside looking in
The other traditional thing to do on the annual Harrods trip, is look at the window display, which features cute mice in various stages of Christmas preparation, in cute domestic scenes.
If I'm honest, I don't think the Harrods window display was quite as magical as last year – but then you can't have everything. It seemed to be a bit more handbaggy and a bit less reindeer-y than I remembered from last year. But that may be just a reflection of how my Christmas Spirit levels are a bit lower this year.
Apart from this bit of the window display of course. Look: that's Chiswick Boy, bopping away and creating a mirror image made of streams of light, while onlookers, er, look on…
On the outside looking in, we saw ice skaters…
And we saw piles of gobstoppers…
I'm not sure why I didn't get any photos of the cute mice scenes.
The main event: the Christmas concert
Of course nothing is as magical as going to your child's Christmas concert, and this year was truly a tear-welling experience. (I seem to be doing a lot of tear-welling this Advent.)
Listening to 350 kids singing a French carol in gorgeous harmonies, with no word sheets, was a real testament to the importance they place on music at school. And I don't think I was the only parent in that church with a damp eye.
It wasn't just French carols of course – but I won't give a blow by blow account of the concert here. I wonder if Christmas concerts are a bit like holiday photos… they're only interesting if they're your own?
But I will say that the Christmas concert was a bitter sweet experience for me because I'm aware that they are something fleeting – that we only have a few more years left of nativities and costumes and singing.
Chiswick Daddy tells me that my glass is half full ('you haven't even got a glass,' he sometimes sighs). After all, Chiswick Boy is only just gone eight. He's only just gone up to the juniors. But I still feel that I need to really cherish each of these concerts and hold them away in a precious place in my heart.
Children bring magic
The Christmas spirt is an odd and elusive thing. Christmas is so exciting and magical when you're young, and then there come the jaded years. The years where nothing seems quite as Christmassy as it did when you were little. When you've run out of ideas for gifts for the people you love. And Christmas day is a bit anticlimatic.
Which is the point at which our son – luckily – came along for us, and brought all the magic back with him.
Some of our new Christmassy traditions I've shamelessly pilfered from mumsnet, where I get really excited about the Christmas forums and people swapping their tips.
One of the things we've done for the last three years is the Christmas Elf. Elfie arrives every 1 December and does something mischevious every night, so that Chiswick Boy leaps every morning to search for him.
Last night Elfie did this (above) – rode into the living room in the Playmobil camper van and started doing a jigsaw. (The night before, Elfie brought a girlfriend back from the North Pole which is why there's two of them.)
One of the Christmassy things I've been enjoying is the advent posts by fellow London mum and blogger Helen Chandler. Helen has been blogging something she is grateful about for each day of advent.
I really like Helen's authenticity and these daily reminders to be grateful for the little and big things that make up our lives.
So there you have the little things above that have been making me feel Christmassy. I'd be fibbing if I said I felt 100% endowed with the Christmas spirit. It does still feel that something is missing. Maybe it will ramp up more when Chiswick Boy finishes school tomorrow and I have the next three weeks off with him.
We've still got orange pomanders to make, and lots of Christmas films we haven't watched yet. And I haven't wrapped a single present yet (although we're not doing many adult presents this year – it's mainly for Chiswick Boy.)
What is it that makes Christmas Christmassy for you?
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