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Dec 30 / Caro

Festive Fun

One of the things I had intended to do on Christmas Eve, had we not been watching flood water rise, was a big catch-up blog post. December sort of ran away with me, between working hard, attending Christmas activities and get-togethers, shopping, writing cards and wrapping gifts, there was little time for blogging. I suppose you could say I was busy living life but not recording it. Whilst I know that is what is really important, I also really wanted to record some of the festive highlights of the season, as much for myself and Thomas to look back on in years to come as anything else. This post is very photo heavy, with some of the pictures are not of great quality, and it’s been written as a bit of a stream of consciousness, as my primary aim is to get these memories down for us!

Our festivities started at the end of November with the local Christmas lights switch on. Thomas became ridiculously excited throughout the day after being told we would be seeing fireworks. This is despite the fact that, to our knowledge, he has never seen fireworks before. We opted not to take him to any local displays around November 5th as they all seemed very late and very expensive, especially given the high likelihood of a freak out. The Christmas Lights Switch on by contrast was early, local and free. He asked all day when it would time for the fireworks. He also enjoyed the music on the stage set up in the high street, dancing along to everyone in the vicinity’s amusement! When the fireworks finally started he could hardly contain himself, and couldn’t have been further from freaking out!

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The next big Christmas activity was the Santa Special on a local heritage railway. For a train obsessed toddler, a ride on a rap steam train is heaven, and we figured he would have a great time even if there was a meltdown when it came to meeting the man in red. Thomas surprised again, however, by not only sitting happily on Father Christmas’s knee, but chatting about how he wanted a “big present” and posing for photos too! The gift we got from this experience was good quality (not plastic tat) and the mulled cider and mince pies were much appreciated by us too!

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C;utching his beloved wooden Thomas train, of course!

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Pointing because a helpful elf is waving his present to get him to look at the camera!

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This also coincided with the first day of advent, which meant introducing Thomas to our wooden advent calendar. Ian and I got this one the year we got married, after looking for a similar one for a few years. Most of the wooden advent calendars I found contained empty boxes to be filled yourself. We didn’t fancy filling our own calendar for ourselves, so we wanted one with wooden trinkets inside to be hung up. This one depicts a front room scene and each box contains little wooden shape to hang on the scene. Now that we have Thomas, I’m especially grateful for this calendar, as there is no way I wanted to start a precedent of chocolate every day during advent! He loves the calendar, and asks to play with it everyday. He’s enjoyed spotting the numbers and opening the door to see what is inside, He can even hang the shapes up by himself!

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The following weekend was Christmas Tree time. We always have a real tree. Partly because that is always what I have done. I love the shape and the look of a real tree, not to mention the smell. I think I’d get bored of the same artificial tree year after year, not to mention having to find space in the loft to store it. We went on a family expedition to pick the perfect tree (for which read we took it in turns to chase Thomas around in between the trees whilst also trying to choose one!). Ian and I got it in to the stand and the lights on it whilst Thomas had a rare nap. Once he was awake we all “derrickated” it together. Another tradition that Ian and I have is to watch Home Alone whilst decorating the tree, and surprisingly Thomas loved this too!

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Later on that weekend, Thomas had his very first experience of bowling at a family-friendly work party. He had an absolute blast. he wanted to pick all the balls up himself, and did escape to start running down the lane once, but once we got the hang of setting up the ramp he was brilliant at pushing the ball down and even scored a strike! Definitely an activity we will be repeating some time soon.

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The next week saw his Christmas sing along at nursery, and I was absolutely riddled with guilt that I couldn’t make it. It didn’t help that I’d found him in tears at nursery pick up the previous day for the first time EVER because the mummy of the other Thomas in his room has arrived for pick up before me. When they had said “Thomas’s mummy is here” he thought they meant me, and was very upset that I wasn’t there. I had a particularly rubbish day at work too, and would much rather have been singing “Father Christmas, Father Christmas. He got stuck. He got stuck.” But apparently Thomas had a great day, sang at the top of his voice (which I can believe as we heard him “practicing” at home”) and chatted happily to other parents, even monopolising another child’s dad to draw trains for him!!

We made up for missing the sing along with a full family day out to London the following day, and Thomas’s first ever theatre trip. This really deserves a post of its own, but we went to the production of “Twas The Night Before Christmas” at the Unicorn Theatre (the dedicated children’s theatre) in London. It was aimed at children aged 2-5 and was perfect for Thomas who sat completely engaged throughout the 60 minute one man show. We also enjoyed lunch at Pizza Express, who now thoughtfully give children stickers with their menus, and a walk along the river. Thomas was so excited at the number of double decker buses that he got to see as we walked along Tooley Street that he was literally jumping for joy every time one passed. It made my heart ache just a little bit.

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The telephone boxes in Hay’s Galleria were a huge hit!

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“I want to go in Daddy!”

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That weekend also saw Thomas’s music class Christmas party, which gave him another opportunity for plenty of singing and shaking his bells, and eased my conscience a bit more about missing the nursery party. On the Sunday we took a trip to local National Trust venue – Igtham Mote – which had been dressed for Christmas. Thomas adores Christmas Trees, pointing them out wherever we go, so to see so many in one house was a big treat. Unsurprisingly he homed in pretty quickly on the model train beneath one of them!

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This very 1970s Christmas tree made me feel nostalgic for the Christmas trees of my family during my childhood!

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Some guys were playing Billiards in the Billiard room and very kindly let Thomas “help” as he was very insistent that he wanted to play!

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My parents have many photos of me playing in this same dog kennel as a child.

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The ice house was very fascinating.

The final weekend before Christmas was taken up with visiting family and it was unfortunately at this point that illness, teething and not sleeping hit. But I think we made December pretty special for our two year old and I’m glad, even if the only way he will remember it is through these photos!

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4 Comments

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  1. Carie / Dec 30 2013

    The steam train trip looks amazing! I’m not surprised Thomas loved it – I think I’d be pretty keen on that too!

    • Caro / Dec 31 2013

      It was great. A ride on a steam train with festive snacks and drinks, balloon modelling etc, then seeing Father Christmas in his grotto. We’re so lucky to have this so local and I think it was far better for all of us than visiting Father Christmas in a shopping centre! I have a feeling it may become a family tradition… At least until Thomas isn’t quite so obsessed by trains, anyway!

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