It was 7.10 Christmas morning when we all trundled downstairs to see what Santa had left under the tree. All things considered, we got off lightly and even then it was Mud getting up which started the day and not Little Mudlet which, considering the state of hyper excitement she has been in this last week, was the first surprise of the day.
Downstairs, a respectable pile of presents surrounded the lower section of the tree. The girls eagerly grabbed their stockings in which half a dozen smaller gifts had been placed and began emptying them whilst Mud and I went through the essential morning routine of coffee (both of us), cigarette (Mud).
With coffee mug in hand, the camera ready and the stocking contents thoroughly investigated, the girls began the serious task of present opening. We have a method for present opening in Mudville: smaller gifts are opened first and the main gifts are left until last. Except this year, things were a little bit different.
Both girls had asked for Lego for Christmas – no surprise there then – with the Friends Lego Heartlake Shopping Mall top of Little Mudlets list, whilst the Parisian Restaurant Modular building claimed the number one spot for Middle Mudlet. Actually when I say top of their lists I actually mean joint top because both girls had also included a Lego train as an alternative to their other choice and as luck would have it, they both wanted different trains with Middle Mudlet preferring the High Speed Passenger train whilst her younger sister had specified the Cargo train.
Unbelievably, we had managed to find the Mall and both trains at significantly discounted prices back in October and then decided to throw the Cafe into the mix as well. However, Mud realised that the track supplied with the trains wasn’t sufficient to produce a practical and/or useable layout, especially for the High Speed Passenger train. So we also purchased some extra packs of track and these were wrapped up as supplementary presents. Of course, this then changed the way in which the presents could be opened, as the smaller and cheaper packs of track could not be opened before the train sets themselves. So part way through the process the girls found themselves opening a major present and their reactions were priceless.
The Cafe and the Mall were the last of the gifts to be opened to a thrilled and delighted response by the recipients.
With the presents unwrapped and gift paper in bin bags, each girl started to build: Little Mudlet opted to build her train first and Middle Mudlet started on her cafe. I deliberately used the word ‘started’ in reference to the Cafe because it is a complex and time consuming build for a 10 year old but by 4.30pm and after some 7.5 hours of build time (starting at 8.30am and deducting half an hour for lunch), Middle Mudlet had completed the ground floor and had started on the first floor with no help at all from Mud or I. At this point she decided to take a break from the Cafe build and turned her attention to her other presents. As for Little Mudlet, she managed to build the Cargo train and goods yard with only a very small amount of help from Mud (mainly involving tricky sticker placements) and her completed build is now in situ around the base of the tree and has already had a good amount of run time.
Sadly, due to work, other commitments and circumstances, Eldest Mudlet wasn’t able to join us for Christmas this year which has caused me much sadness and heartache but, as is often the way, this may well have been a blessing in disguise for her because by 10am it had become apparent that Mud wasn’t very well at all. This wasn’t an entirely unexpected development, as a colleague with whom he has been working closely in the last week or two had been off work with a flu virus. I can always tell when Mud is feeling truly dreadful because he makes hardly any fuss at all.
As he shivered and shook on the sofa, feeling frozen to the bone even though he was fully dressed and huddled under his thick dressing gown, with a fire roaring away in the log burner, the Mudlets and I were in t-shirts. Painful bones and joints have drastically reduced the number of cigarettes smoked and coffees drunk today and I don’t believe he has checked his emails and messages at all which is unheard off, due to the pain in his fingers. Christmas dinner, traditionally his domain, was cooked by me but only the girls and I sat down to it as Mud continued to suffer on the sofa.
My suggestions to take himself up to bed were met with refusal as he wanted to watch the girls play with their Christmas gifts and didn’t want to spend the day alone upstairs but finally, at 7.00pm he could stand it no longer and made his way upstairs. I devoutly hope he feels much better in the morning.
In the meantime, Little Mudlet and I watched Arthur Christmas with Middle Mudlet working away on building her Lego train, as she figured this would take much less time than the rest of the Cafe build. Now I find myself enjoying peace and quiet with everyone else tucked up in bed. I’m going to pour myself a large Baileys over a mountain of ice shortly and find something easy to watch on the goggle box, or I might bury my nose in the new book I got for Christmas. Either way I will certainly be sending up a silent but heartfelt prayer that the rest of us escape the virus that is plaguing Mud and that he makes a speedy recovery.
So it only remains to wish you all a very Merry Christmas – I hope it was a good one.