Thorntons Christmas Hero

At last! We’ve opened the first doors on advent calendars, there neighbours windows are twinkling with the first hint of colourful Christmas tree lights (ours yet to be extracted from the attic despite much pleading) and we’ve adorned our family Christmas jumpers for the first time at our inaugural trip to Winter Wonderland in our beautiful capital city – I can finally talk Christmas without fearing I’ll peak too early.

And this Christmas I’m taking part in the Thorntons Christmas Hero competition. I know how blessed I am to be surrounded by such a wonderful family and amazing friends, and in my view, everyone I know is a Christmas Hero in their own way. Those who tirelessly devote their own time to helping out at local charities ensuring those children less fortunate than their own receive the same Christmas magic from Santa that every child should. Those who put their families ahead of themselves, working hard at two or more jobs to give those much coveted gifts that will make their children beam on Christmas morning. Those who despite illness, despite personal struggles give themselves to embracing all that Christmas is about and share love, peace and goodwill to all.

Like many families this Christmas family super and all in our extended family will be missing someone special. My husbands Gran, or Old Nana as the little princess and little monster called her, passed away this year after a short illness. Her quick witted charm, her overwhelming love for all of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, her focus on family, her love of a cheeky tipple and a strawberry tart, and her favourite chocolate at Christmas (and all year round!) leaves a space in our hearts this Christmas that no one can fill. And for one other special person, this Christmas won’t be the same without Gran, our Aunt T. Aunt T and Gran were pretty inseparable, knowing one another better than anybody else. In the same way as mothers care unconditionally for their children, so too did Aunt T care for her mum without question. The details are irrelevant and actually difficult to write, and there are no words that can sum up how different Christmas will be this year for Aunt T, but there’s no doubt it will be one where old traditions are replaced by reflections, musings and memories of Christmases gone by where Gran brought sparkle just by her mere presence (never mind her incredibly rude and wicked humor!)

So, Aunt T, this year has been incredibly difficult, and your our Christmas Hero…even if you did blub like a big softie when we shared that news with you! Enjoy your Thorntons Chocolates, and have one for Gran, with a cheeky vodka and irn bru just as she would have of course!

What? No chocolate?!

Last advent LPP and LMB had Hello Kitty and Winnie the Pooh themed advent calendars respectively. Neither calendar had any real leaning towards being Christmassy in design or sentiment other than a sparse sprinkling of holly on Hello Kitty’s bow and a snowy covering on the hundred acre wood. They clearly did all they had to from a child’s perspective, pharmacy that is provide chocolate before PJs were off and faces were washed and, gasp, breakfast was had. Last year, LPP had completely understood the concept of opening one door per day, counting all the way down to Christmas day, and being the keen bean that she is, it was also a welcome number practising and counting exercise for her too. Little Monster Blue on the other hand was arguably still a little bit too young to grasp the concept of opening a particular window each day, and only one at a time. He very much subscribed to the view, if there is chocolate in one, there’s chocolate in them all, why wait til tomorrow for you can have today? We had many a morning meltdown over opening only one window, and you can imagine the morning (Day 14 as I recall) when it was a fridge magnet instead of chocolate behind the window.

So this year, I decided a return to tradition was in order. No character themed advent calendars, but good old traditional ones, with proper Christmas scenes and nothing more than a Christmas themed picture behind the daily windows. The same kind as my sister and I had growing up. Off we trotted a few weekends ago with the specific task of buying advent calendars in mind. LPP selected a beautifully depicted nativity scene, commercially sparkling with glitter nonetheless, but containing all the requisite parts of a true Christmas scene. LMB opted for a traditional Santa scene, a proper drawing, less cartoony than the heavily characterised ones with and more artistic sketching, surrounded by traditional toys and festive offerings.

This morning there was much excitement as the official opening of day one on the advent calendars commenced. LPP explained the inner workings to her little brother, “you open 1 today, there’ll be a picture, 2 tomorrow, there’ll be a picture, 3 the next day, there’ll be a picture, 4 the next day, there’ll be a picture”….and so forth through to 24.  Really.  By this time LMB had tuned out as despite being so ickle something in his memory reserves was clearly taking him back to similar activities of the year previous where the chocolate had been an integral part of this process. He was itching to pop open window number 1 and uncover its contents. With a little bit of help, and a lot of patience, we prised open the well hidden number 1 window to reveal an advent wreath topped with candles. ‘Yay, a birthday cake!’ he exclaimed. Hhmm.

LPP went next, and revealed beneath window number 1, a trumpet. A Christmas trumpet she tells me. But a trumpet all the same.

It was over in seconds and didn’t quite have the excitement I recall when at that same age my sister and I would wonder for hours what might be behind the next window. The calendars were propped back up on the table and breakfast was had, only for LPP to holler through a short while later when the pair of them had been tasked with getting shoes and jackets on….” Mummmmmy, he’s opened 18, 23 and 21.”

Thanks goodness for that Peppa Pig caramel centred chocolate filled calendar with the faux Christmas scene I’ve got hidden in the cupboard.  I think I’ll scoff the lot tonight!

Jingle Bells in July

At my last count, nurse there were another five months to go until the big guy in the red suit would be taking that dangerously tight  squeeze down our chimney, cialis yet in the past few weeks the Christmas references have been in greater abundance than the number of old drunk Aunties round the dinner table on the 25th December (or is that just my family?)

We overhauled Little Princess Pinks bookcase recently as it was quite literally bursting at the seams. Naturally Little Monster Blue inherited a huge proportion of the books that were deigned far too babyish by the 4 going on 14 year old. One such book was The Nativity. I’m not sure there is an average age by which a child outgrows The Nativity story, but given most seem to have written off Santa Claus by the time they reach 8, perhaps one of the oldest tales in the world does have a shelf life. As this version of The Nativity was an Usbourne touchy feely, I allowed it to be placed on the shelf in LMBs bedroom. And there I expected it to stay until the 1st December at least. But not so.

LMB is just getting to that stage where he likes to choose the three books we read each bedtime,’Baby Zoo’, ‘That’s not my Monkey’ and ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’ have been on his short list for some time now. But that all changed with the arrival of new books on the block, The Nativity coming out tops. For the last week and a half.

At first I tried to discourage him, suggesting ‘The Tiger who came to Tea’ was much more exciting, and even had a tiger who drank all the water in the taps in it,  but that didn’t hold the same appeal as a lady in a blue dress on a donkey. So, The Nativity it was. More for my own sanitythan anything else, I tried to tell the story with minimal Christmas references, which is pretty hard when you’re faced with an angel, three wise men and the baby Jesus himself. I tried to focus just on the animals in the story, and at one point deviated to sing Old MacDonald had a farm (predominantly with sheep and a donkey). Then I tried the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star route when we got to the page where the three wise men followed the star to Bethlehem. But nothing could detract from the fact that we were reading The Nativity. In July.

At the same time we made the discovery of The Nativity book, so too did we find ‘Mr Men – Mr Christmas Saves the Day’.  A fun story about Mr Christmas being drafted in to help the real Father Christmas who was way behind on the Christmas preparations due to playing too much golf and drinking too much beer (okay, I made that last bit up, but in the story he had being playing too much golf – probably a discussion point in many a household.) It’s a colourful, brightly illustrated board book,and great for little hands to turn the pages, oh and just perfect for little fingers pressing the ever so slightly annoying musical button which plays Jingle Bells. Over and over.

Then as if entering a bizarre parallel universe I logged on to my PC to get my daily fix of mini-blogging – i.e. Facebook – only to find that on the 25th July (officially smack bang in the middle of summer)  one of my friends was wishing everyone a Merry Christmas…you know who you are Mrs W – being Down Under is no excuse!  Further facebook updates have followed with friends having bought presents already to hide in the wardrobe / under the bed / in a safe place only to forget where they are and have to go and buy replacements when they can’t be found (probably just me again on that one – we’re still missing a Teletubby from 2006…)

Finally, to top it all off, I opened the free local newspaper which pops through the letter box every Friday, to be faced with a centre page double spread of Christmas Party Night adverts and sample Christmas Lunch Menus. The pages were decorated with the dark green holly and deep red berry colours of Christmas, there were flutterings of little fake snowdrops making their way down the pages, a shot of a wonderfully lit Christmas tree, stacked high with ornate decorations and packed underneath with shiny foil wrapped presents tied in great big bows. The Christmas menus couldn’t have been any more traditional – turkey with all the trimmings, brussell sprouts with chestnuts, roast potatoes oozing in goose fat, and Christmas Pudding with brandy ice-cream.  There were cheesy pictures of couples snogging under huge bunches of mistletoe, hazy photos of little children sitting at the feet of Father Christmas, looking at him with awe and wonder in their eyes.  I mean come on. It’s July. There’s five months to go…….

Hhhhmmmm, though a brandy and a mince pie might just go down a treat right now….

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