I mean, I barely know where to start. When I was younger, I was never a big fan of Christmas; being indoors for several days whilst all the shops were shut and the weather was shit, and the heating was turned up too high was never my favourite time of year.
Now I have my own children, something has softened, slightly. I am less Grinchy, and the thought of having a magical family Christmas is tantalising. I just need to find the right fragranced candle, the most delicious mince pie recipe, and – this year – the perfect real tree. We have never had a real tree before. We were either childless and a bit “meh” about Christmas, or we had a newborn and everything was covered in vomit and poo, or we had a toddler (at least two Christmases where the bottom half of the Christmas tree remained steadfastly undecorated owing to toddler-related tree violence).
I have never had a real tree. So this year, I decided we would. TheBloke (TM) told me it was a terrible idea and it would drop needles everywhere. “It’ll be fine,” I assured him, imagining a handful of needles which would swiftly be dealt with with a quick hoover around. And off to IKEA I poddled to buy my very first Christmas tree. It was very exciting. I chose a super-bushy one and a stand that holds water, and drove home, massively smug. I even put it up myself, after letting it stand in the garage for a day to acclimatise. (I have no idea how standing it in an outdoor garage is supposed to acclimatise it to a home with central heating, but I read the guide online, so there we go.)
We made the appropriate trunk incisions… but a day later, the needles started dropping. Not one or two, or even ten or twenty, but basically enough to carpet a small room, like a downstairs cloakroom quite luxuriantly. I mean, the living room smelled beautifully foresty, but only because the carpet was literally like a forest floor. We hadn’t even decorated the bastard yet.
Today I got to shout at the children, “DON’T TOUCH THE TREE,” thus killing any joy in their excited little faces as they attempted to decorate it. After gingerly placing decorations, each one causing a new waterfall of needles, later I got to spend two hours trying to sort out network settings on the super-clever-Alexa-controlled-Christmas-tree-lights that don’t bastarding work on a 5G network, and caused sufficient interference on the 2.4G network that I had to reset the router. Twice. Every time the Christmas tree lights turn on, more needles drop on the floor. I wake up in the night worrying about it. The chances of it being any more than a tall stick by next Thursday are incredibly slim.
As if this weren’t stressful enough, in the meantime, YoungestGirl is still steadfastly refusing to potty train. She is sort of potty trained for wees, so long as we remind her to go to the toilet every 45 minutes or so. But she will only poo on the toilet if she is wearing a pull-up.
Readers, last week in desperation, I found myself with a pair of scissors, cutting a hole in her pull-up so she could still keep it on, but the poo could fall through. I mean, it bloody worked, but it’s not an experience I want to repeat. The little monkey basically holds her poo for Saturdays and Sundays when she’s home with us, releases a poonami in her pull-up at nursery on Mondays and Tuesdays, and holds onto it again on Wednesdays and Thursdays when she’s home with me, before a final weekend clear-out at nursery on Friday. You’re not telling me that girl doesn’t have bowel control.
To add insult to (literal) injury, on Friday I was helping her get ready for the walk to school. She makes a fuss about going to nursery every day, even though I know she has a lovely time when she’s there. I think she just enjoys having a moan. I was helping her get her mittens on, and my hand slipped slightly and knocked her in the face, not massively hard, but hard enough to make her jump and upset her (given she was already on the edge as it was a nursery day). She then cried all the way to nursery, snivelling loudly, “I’m crying because Mummy hit me in the face.” I had to tell the nursery staff about it, and then spent the rest of the day worrying that I’d get a Social Services referral.
Then I found out that the cat has acne. I wish I was making this shit up.
In an attempt to bring some festive joy back to the house, I asked EldestGirl if she would like to write a list of things she would like to do over the Christmas period. She made a lovely list, of really thoughtful things like “Christmas movie with hot chocolate”, “Visit Santa’s Grotto” and “Make Christmas pudding with Mummy” but her last item was a bit of a surprise. We might put that one on the back-burner.