The run up to Christmas was a hectic one in Mudville, starting with the putting up of the decorations on the 1st of December and culminating with the youngest Mudlets finding all manner of surprises left by Santa under the tree. A broken hearted and poorly Eldest Mudlet came across for the day, stayed the night but went home Boxing Day to languish in the comfort of her own bed, taking with her the warm hug I had knitted for her. But as much as the build up to Christmas Day was busy and filled with the pent up excitement of the younger girls, all too soon it was over and we found ourselves ambling along to New Years with an exhausted and flu ridden Mud taking to his bed for the best part of two days.
As I said at the very start of this post, the 1st of December found me putting up the non tree based decorations. Mud was away at head office and with both the younger Mudlets safely ensconced in school, I had the house to myself. Busily I dusted and hoovered before carefully unwrapping the ornaments and streamers, ohing and ahing at every rediscovered find, deciding on just the right place for each item. Santa took up residence in his habitual spot beside his sleigh which was soon filled with the little sleigh gifts Mud likes to buy for the girls to open on the run up to Christmas: 1 for each of the younger Mudlets on December 1st, each Saturday in December leading up to Christmas and then one final one each for Christmas Eve. Lego and chocolate advent calendars were already displayed on the hearth with the contents of the first windows already released by the eager recipients first thing that morning. By the close of school that day all but the streamers were up but they were in place by the time Mud arrived home later that night.
December 6th saw me dressed in Victorian finery for the Victorian Market outside the local church, helping man the stalls for the school PTA. It was a wonderfully atmospheric event, with stalls set up among the trees and along the sweeping drive leading up to the church. One of the village woman had made all the costumes and I loved mine which happened to go beautifully with a lovely cashmere shawl that Eldest Mudlet had brought me back from Portugal in September. The turn out for the market was superb and the event really set the mood for the run up to Christmas.
On December 12th, we decided it was time to go get our tree and so we all piled into Annie and headed off to the little independent nursery from which we had purchased our trees for the last few years. It’s as far from us in one direction as the major chain garden centre is in the other direction and we like to support local business where ever possible. We were therefore dreadfully sad to arrive at our destination, only to be greeted with a large notice hammered to the gate thanking people for their custom over the years but stating the nursery was now closed which left us no option other than to head over to the large garden centre in town to choose a tree. Once home, the tree was popped into its’ stand, given a large drink of water, released from its’ net and left to relax back into shape ready for decorating by the Mudlets ….. and when I say decorated by the Mudlets, with the exception of light and tinsel placement which is always done by an adult, that’s exactly what I mean. Box by box, bauble by bauble, the girls carefully placed each tree decoration taking care to ensure that the different elements were well spread over the the whole tree – I taught them well. The finished result was really rather beautiful and they were justifiably proud of their efforts. The angel was the last item to take up residence and amidst much giggling and smiles, Mud lifted Little Mudlet up, as it was her turn to do the honours.
The following days brought with them a myriad of school events both during the day and at night, including the first Secondary school event for Middle Mudlet which took the form of an absolutely stunning Christmas Concert. Mud and I were blown away by the sheer scale of talent on display, as orchestras, bands, groups and various choirs, all off which were made up entirely from the student body, performed a wide range of music and the whole event was organised by the sixth form as part of their studies. Middle Mudlet has just taken up guitar and we look forward to hearing her perform in future concerts.
For the first time since moving here some 13 or so years ago, the front door to Mudville was decorated with a Christmas Wreath. A friend has been making them for a couple of years now and overhearing a conversation I was having with said friend about her wreaths, Mud suggested we do a swap: my home made chutney and sweet chilli dipping sauce for one of her creations. My friend readily agreed and a few days later I took delivery of this beautiful wreath and handed over a pot of each chutney and a dipping sauce. Having already exchanged dipping sauce for apples from a friends orchard and given some chilli pods to a villager whose own crop had failed but who wanted to make some apple chilli jelly, a jar of which I recieved in due course, I’ve been feeling quite traditional this year.
Christingle service, Christmas plays, a whole school trip to the pantomime (I got to go on the trip to – oh yes I did!), Christmas dinner day at school, all made the last few days of term speed past and before we knew it we were on the count down to the big day. The next week was a whirlwind of shopping, wrapping, finishing off knitted gifts and Mud and the Mudlets took over my beautiful Christmas table and turned it into a work shop for Airfix model building.
Christmas Eve day was spent by the Mudlets tracking Santa via NORAD, whilst Mud continued to build an Airfix jet plane and I made Ginger Bread cottages using my silicon mould, Chelsea Buns and a large number of jam and lemon curd tarts for the Mudlets. As per tradition, the Mudlets each received a pair of new PJs for Christmas Eve, into which they changed before going into the back garden to sprinkle food around for the reindeer. With the girls finally tucked up in bed, it only remained for ribbons and bows to be attached to the already wrapped gifts and for these to then be placed around the tree.
With the village clock chiming midnight, Christmas Day arrived and Mud and I took ourselves off to bed, in the sure and certain knowledge that at about 7am, two excited girls would be up and about, desperate to get downstairs and see if Santa had been.