As an adult, Christmas seems to have lost a bit of its special magic for me. Yes, in recent years this may be because I’ve been hungover on Christmas Day, but mostly the excitement of receiving presents has been overtaken by the stress of buying for others and just general life/work etc, getting in the way.
This year, I was a bit more excited, as when you have kids that festive magic is supposed to come rushing back. This was the J’s first Christmas and I was looking forward to it, even though she’s only 10 months old and wouldn’t understand what it was all about. We didn’t go crazy with presents as we knew our families would spoil her rotten. I had picked out a beautiful dressing gown with her name embroidered on it as her main present. Then we had a stocking from Father Christmas with some silly little presents.
So I was all ready for the big day and got my last few presents wrapped on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. Normally I’m much more organised, but this year I somehow got lumped with buying all the presents for both mine and Grump’s family (he normally does his own family, but leaves it until Xmas eve in a mad panic). Apparently the job of ‘mother’ now extends to present buyer as I supposedly have more free time to do this, even though Grump broke up from school on the 13th of December.
Every Christmas Eve for the past 15-odd years we have gone out for a curry and drinks with our friends (hence the earlier comment about being hungover on Xmas day). We went out last year when I was pregnant (minus the booze for me), but this year we thought we would dial it down a notch and get a takeaway. We invited a couple of friends over and enjoyed a nice balti and a few glasses of Prosecco. The J had gone to bed at her usual time of 7pm and all was calm. Until she woke up. It must have been about 10:30pm, when we were just thinking about going to bed. This was the beginning of the night of coldmageddon.
That night was a battle of wills; she just wouldn’t go to sleep and we lost the will to live as each hour ticked past. We tried every single trick in our arsenal of parenting knowledge – from bringing her in our bed (too exciting) to taking her for a drive in the car (she fell asleep, but woke when we transferred her to the cot) – and nothing worked. She was so bunged up with a cold and kept choking on phlegm; bless her, she was obviously feeling really grotty. Nothing we could do would get her go to sleep. The only light relief was when I took her downstairs to watch TV and gave Grump a break (we’d decided to do shifts by this point). We sat snuggled on the sofa and watched We’re Going on a Bear Hunt together. The clock struck midnight and I wished my poorly little girl Happy Christmas.
I think around 3am she finally fell asleep in her cot and we got a couple of hours’ kip; then she was up at 5.30am. It is certainly hard to summon any enthusiasm for Christmas festivities when you are that exhausted. Needless to say, there is something quite lovely about watching your child open presents. It turns out giving can be better than receiving. We ended up having a lovely Christmas – thank god both sets of parents live just down the road and we didn’t have a long drive anywhere. I don’t think we would have made it.
If you told me before I got pregnant that the first Christmas with my new baby would be spent awake half the night with a snotty, crying baby attached to me and then sucking bogeys out of her nose with a strange plastic contraption the next morning, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Coldmageddon lasted three nights and could have ruined our Christmas. Instead, we made the best of a bad situation and tried to find joy in the special little things that the festive season brings. We also ate A LOT of food and drank coffee/tea by the bucket load. It wasn’t how I imagined our first Christmas, but at least I’m prepared for future Christmases with an excited older child who doesn’t want to go to sleep.
P.S. Father Christmas is in my bad books. He totally disregarded two of the main points of my Christmas list regarding sleep and illness. I thought we had a deal Santa?