Parenting Planning

So, here it is Merry Christmas….

Christmas Gift
Written by Kirstie Pelling

So here it is Merry Christmas…

Christmas and New Year. 17 days without school. Surely the perfect moment to skip off to the sunshine or a ski slope. And with all those recession busting special offers, accessible at the click of a mouse, it’s never been easier to get away. Unless you are us…. somehow our plans aren’t quite coming together.

Christmas Holker Hall

Merry Christmas. But what will Santa bring?

The world is due to end before Christmas

Some say the world is going to end before Christmas. And I had planned to take advantage of it; to fly to Mexico to report on it from the steps of a Mayan pyramid on the last day of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar. But then I realised we couldn’t really afford the flights to the Yucatan. How stupid is that? We can’t afford to enjoy ourselves as the world ends because we’ve got a mortgage to pay.

Yucatan Dreams

I had to let go of my Yucatan dream

So I kind of resigned myself to waiting for the world to end (or not) at home, in front of a nice warm fire. That was until the rains came.

Aren’t floods an omen?

While we were out at the village carol service last week, something came down the chimney. We all knew it was too early for Santa. And it wasn’t a reindeer; it was rain dear. Buckets of it.  On our return the sound of silent night was replaced by the sound of squelching feet on carpet as moist my Christmas cake.

Needing to dry out we decided a short haul Christmas mini break in the sun was called for. Where better then The Algarve? Portugal’s finances seem to mirror ours and you can get there for the price of a fat free (tax free) coffee in Starbucks, if you’re gutsy enough to drink in there.  But only if you don’t take any bags. Cheap as chips suddenly became expensive as caviar when I factored in five of us and a heap of presents. It kind of ruled out Portugal, even with just three bags, an Ebookers discount code and the euros left over from last summer.

Never mind, walking is cheap

Still there’s always The Lakes. On our doorstep and criss crossed with walking routes. Imagine that; no travel costs at all. So we decide to walk The Cumbria Way,  staying in hostels to keep the costs down. But that was before Cameron’s visit to casualty. He’s a whizz on his crutches now but you can’t expect a child to hobble across the hills on two of them can you?

Lake District View to Buttermere

The beautiful Lake District, looking down to Buttermere. Not too easy on crutches.

Then I discover a competition offering to send four travel bloggers to Germany and set my sights on Berlin. It is late on Sunday night and an hour before the closing deadline when I compose and send our entry.

Are we feeling lucky?

“What? We’re going to sleep in coffins and hang around the graves of The Grimm brothers?” says Stuart when I ask him to review our entry after pressing send.

“They wrote lovely fairy tales.”

“About children in cages and nice sweet grandma being gobbled by a wolf?”

This is a stand out entry

It is only when all the entries are published I realise how much our entry stands out. For all the wrong reasons. While we plan to settle down for the night in coffins, everyone else plans to go off shopping, visit a spa or have fun on a zip wire.

“No-one is going to vote to put a mother of three in a coffin,” says Stuart pointedly.

I do. And I make him too.

As I click, like and vote I realise I have just unthinkingly entered us into a public beauty pageant. As the ugly ones. With all the vote begging and online humiliation of potentially being last. And the prospect of hourly checking of a silly little number that tells me I am not the most popular girl in the playground. Unless I beg some more.

After two days and two rounds of begging we make a pact to let it lie and focus on staying at home for Christmas. Christmas at home can be nice can’t it? Even with rotten windows, a broken down car and a damp carpet.

Christmas Gift

Life is full of unexpected gifts, isn’t it?

Christmas at home then

I think the kids sense my need for escapism. But it is my need not theirs. They love Christmas at home. To them the house looks like a grotto, the fridge is full and Mum and Dad aren’t blogging. But I know they want to make me happy.

They make me Christmas cards. Hannah’s has a home-made £5 note in it. There’s a good career there. While Cameron gives me a card containing a strange code.

“What is it?” I ask. “The numberplate of a new car?”

“No, I got it off the internet, from MyVoucherCodes, to get money off a holiday” he explains.

Tiny Tim throws his crutches down in front of me to give me a hug and I realise I am already the most popular girl in the playground. I don’t need to go to Berlin to search for a fairytale ending. And I’m pretty sure I’ll sleep more soundly in a bed. And wake up in the morning.

Joy at Christmas

Disclosure Note:We received a financial contribution towards the costs of hosting this post. The experience, content, view and opinions are, as ever, entirely our own.


About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.


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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...


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