It didn’t help that Mud had to work on Annies electrics again that day and it was freezing outside, so he wasn’t the happiest member of the family at that time and a trip into the equally freezing cold attic hadn’t done much to improve his mood. However, he has always maintained that tradition is important and putting the decorations up on the first day of December is a tradition that he started that first Christmas in the cottage 11 years ago and all three Mudlets were expecting the decorations to go up that day …. no ifs, no buts, no maybes!
There followed a two hour period of dusting and vacuuming before I began to put the various ornaments and tinsel garlands about the place.
The youngest Mudlets had been eager to get downstairs and open the first window in their chocolate advent calendars but they were surprised and delighted to discover that we had also bought each of them a Lego Advent Calendar this year: Lego Friends for Little Mudlet and Lego City for Middle Mudlet. Now they were hopping with excitement as they watched me put the Santa and sleigh into position, with the little green reindeer and its’ singing and dancing companions. As far as the Mudlets are concerned, the sleigh is the focal point of this first stage of decorating the house, as another Mudville (name for the Mud household courtesy of Chuck from America) tradition is the Mudlets opening a small gift each weekend in December leading up to Christmas plus the 1st and Christmas Eve if these don’t fall on a weekend.
“Right go outside and play swing ball for 10 minutes,” I told the girls.
Middle and Little Mudlet grumbled about being too cold but eventually got to their feet and trundled away to get their warm gear on. Eldest Mudlet sat where she was having decided that I was only talking to her sisters. I soon corrected her on this point with a :
With the disgusted look she got up but opted to go to the local shop with Mud instead of outside to play with the younger girls ….. I’m guessing she hasn’t yet fully recovered from her traumatic experiences with Swing ball back in the summer and figured that at least she could sit in the car and not get cold.
With all three girls safely out of the way, I began to fill the sleigh with the gifts Mud had carefully selected for them all. This years sleigh was a little extra special but more about that in a moment. I had chosen a different design of label for each girl and had numbered the gifts 1-5 so they would know which one was to be opened when.
With the sleigh filled I called the girls back in and by that time Mud was back from the shop – filling the sleigh takes time you know. It has to be arranged properly and look beautiful and is readjusted each time a gift is removed.
The younger Mudlets squealed with delight when they saw that not only was the sleigh full but there were even gifts surrounding it.
Little Mudlet was first to cotton onto the fact that her gifts had the holographic silver star labels and began to lift them carefully until she found her ‘No 1’ gift. Mud, Eldest Mudlet and I watched the proceedings with a smile on our faces and then Middle Mudlet found a present with a holographic blue present label and lifted it to see what number it was.
“Oh this is your number 4 present,” she said to Eldest Mudlet who immediately responded with:
“What? Are there gifts for me?” before wading in almost bulldozing her sisters aside in her eagerness to find her first present.
And this was the little extra special thing about this years sleigh …. Mud had bought little gifts for all three girls and not just the younger ones. Last year Eldest Mudelt had received a present from the sleigh on Christmas Eve but this was the first year she was to receive gifts for each weekend. Mud had felt that it would be nice a nice surprise for her, as this year is obviously a little tougher for her and he thought, as she would be spending a few weekends with us over December, this would help cheer her up.
“A car!” she announced in delight as she and her sisters unwrapped their first gift to reveal a Matchbox car each.
“Well all year you’ve been saying you need to get a car, so I got you one,” was Muds’ cheeky response and Eldest Mudlet beamed, thrilled to bits with her car and as impatient and excited as her sisters, to find out what else was waiting for her in the sleigh.