Parenting

When Christmas Comes Early

Christmas List
Written by Kirstie Pelling

We’re having an extra Christmas at the beginning of December….

No, we’re not one of those families who love Christmas so much we want to put our decorations up as soon as the kids have finished trick or treating. We’re not even mad about the food and have been known to feast on cheese on toast on the big day itself. “Bah humbug” is in my top ten list of phrases for this time of year and please don’t start me on presents. Let’s just say my mother does enough shopping for all of us.

We’re having an extra Christmas at the beginning of December because my sister in law has doesn’t want to miss it….

My sister in law loves Christmas. She’s the opposite of me. She pegs her cards onto a pretty little washing line while mine sit clogging up the kitchen table, until they’re moved into a pile on the stairs. She fills her home with baubles lit by candle light while we row about blown fairy lights and who put away the tree stand last year. She likes brussels sprouts. Really she does.

Christmas Santa

It’s not all ‘Bah Humbug’ in our house. We do get in the spirit….

We’re having an extra Christmas at the beginning of December because my sister in law doesn’t want to miss it because she’ll be breathing in Himalayan air while the rest of us are sucking up Maltesers off the armrest of the sofa…

Yes, I’m jealous; and no I can’t accidentally slip into her rucksack. The depressing news is that while she’ll be hiking in the Himalayas when Santa comes, we’ll be gazing across the beautiful but rather more prosiac sands of Morecambe Bay. Just us and my mother in law. But because she loves Christmas, we’re ‘doing Christmas’ before she goes. She’s hired a youth hostel in the lakes, worked out a list of responsibilities and shopping, and timetabled bonfires, party games, presents, Christmas dinner and a visit to Holker Hall for carols around the tree. We’re also going to fit in a few birthdays, blowing out candles and cutting cakes for uncles, aunties and nieces who’ll be celebrating the real thing in the Himalayas.

Morecambe Bay Sunset

I love Morecambe Bay but it’s not the Himalayas

We’re having an extra Christmas at the beginning of December because my sister in law doesn’t want to miss it because she’ll be breathing in the Himalayan air while the rest of us are sucking up Maltesers off the armrest of the sofa because our travels with our kids may have started a sibling rivalry that’s getting out of hand…

The thing is it’s our own fault, as I found out recently while out for a walk with Stuart, his brother, sister and their respective broods. Stuart’s brother was very keen to take his new baby out on the fells. While I was trying to deal with a random question about how the person who first invented the clock knew what the time was in order to set it, Stuart’s brother confessed he feels huge pressure to live up to our adventures.

“We’re hoping to follow up our Travelodge tour of the Wales with an extended winter trip to Portugal,” he told us, after grilling me about how far we wandered during our childrens’ early years.

“I know what you mean,” said his sister. “We had to bike up the Atlas mountains in Morocco with our first in a trailer, before he reached his first birthday.”

“It’s not a competition!” said Stuart

“Oh, but it is,” they replied.

Himalayan Trails

Who wouldn’t be jealous about trekking in the Himalayas? Image Credit: Himalayan Trails

We’re having an extra Christmas at the beginning of December because my sister in law doesn’t want to miss it because she’ll be breathing in the Himalayan air while the rest of us are sucking up Maltesers off the armrest of the sofa because our travels with our kids may have started a sibling rivalry that’s now getting out of hand because we didn’t want to stay at home to ‘do’ Christmas when our kids were very little…

It appears we unwittingly started this competition when we took our two toddlers off cycling in New Zealand seven long years ago. Was it an accident that we departed in November and spent Christmas soaking in the hot tub of a Finnish family who’d settled in Timaru and rented their house out as a homestay?

No it was not. Back then we wanted to get out of a conventional Christmas with all the accompanying presents, decorations, reindeers, sprouts, cards and arguments. And we thought we could get away with it. And we did.

Finnish Christmas

Did we start all this with our Finnish Christmas in New Zealand?

We’re having Christmas at the beginning of December because my sister in law has moved the date because she’ll be breathing in the Himalayan air while the rest of us are sucking up Maltesers off the armrest of the sofa because our travels with our kids may have started a sibling rivalry that’s getting out of hand because we didn’t want to stay at home to ‘do’ Christmas when our kids were very little.. And now it’s pay back time.

Two Christmases. Bah humbug.

Are you a Christmas kind of person?  

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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