Thanks so much for all your Christmas messages and cards – I loved reading through them, and hope that, for all of you, this last week has been exactly what you wanted. I hope too that for those of you like Liz, little Alfie, Mary, Susan, Helen and Alpa, your health improved so that you were able to enjoy at least some of the festivities.
Christmas seemed to start earlier in our household this year as we bought and decorated the tree on the 7th December. We found this great place last year, and so went back again, but decided this year, in our wisdom, to buy a more traditional spruce…
I have to say it's made the room smell fabulously festive, but I think my fears about the needle drop were compounded within a couple of days, but as long as no-one touches it or sneezes anywhere near it, we may just make it through until New Year's Day.
As I was working on the night of our QVC Christmas party, Colin very kindly arranged for us to have our own 'works do', and booked a special Christmas riverboat evening on the Thames to Windsor. What made it even more exciting for me was the Michael Buble tribute act (pictured above) who sang his way through ALL my favourite melodies and was word and note-perfect! We had a great time, and were still dancing as they moored the boat!
That weekend Lucy and Simon came to see us with Henry and George, and we made Christmas biscuits and a chocolate cake (which actually looked more like the clays you throw for a pigeon shoot..!), but they enjoyed themselves and so did Lucy and I :)
I saw Lucy the following week, on her last day of term, when I drove to her school, and spent the morning with her tutor group making these Christmas oranges. Lucy makes one for me most years, as I did for my mum before that, and, for some of the children, it was the first time some of them had actually made something to give as a present…I know their mum's will have loved them
Having just been promoted to second in English, although she's only been at the school for four months, I was incredibly proud to be there with Lucy and to meet not just the children but the headteacher too. Good times :)
Again, sticking with tradition, Colin and I headed off to Newbury on the 22nd December to see 'Jack and the Beanstalk' – a panto in which our Danny was appearing as Simple Simon. He's my neice Verity's boyfriend, and so as many of us as could cram in the car bowled up to see him and had a ball :) There were only six people making up the entire cast, but they were brilliant, and kept the 200 strong audience fully entertained.
What was particularly nice was that they had a left an open area in front of the stage so that the children could leap around and dance and join in when they wanted to, and they did! I loved the audience participation too, and it took me back to the early 90s when my mum and I and my three went to see The Chuckle Brothers in panto. Laugh? I nearly embarrassed myself! Thank heavens for pelvic floor exercises!
Like so many families, once the children get older and move away there's always a logistical battle over Christmas to work out who is where and when, but this year we got too see ALL Colin's and my children (except Lucy) on Christmas Eve, and they stayed overnight so we had breakfast together on Christmas morning.
Colin had devised some hilarious games, including Bush Tucker trials, which the kids loved, and even I joined in with! So much laughter and hilarity my stomach hurt, and the visual memory of Pass the Orange will stay with me forever…
Sam, Jack and his girlfriend Hana stayed for Christmas lunch, and this year we'd ordered a boned, rolled and stuffed turkey from the local butcher, which was delicious. I served all the usual things with it, but caused Sam some consternation when he saw all the giblets…"You mean we're going to be eating turkey neck gravy?!"… which indeed we did, and yes, he loved it Sadly I didn't get Jack in the photo, but here are Lucy and Sam.
I was spoiled rotten with gifts this year, including a beautiful dress, cashmere jumper, jewellery and books from Colin, and amongst the things the children bought me were theatre tickets, a new iPad cover and a static cycle stand so I can ride my bike indoors without moving!
I got a fig tree from mum and a lovely antique wooden chest from Jenny, plus so many other things it would be rude to write them all down! What also cheered me was how well-received the presents I bought were. I got mum the Centigrade feather and down coat in plum, and she LOVES it, and I gave Jenny the Diamonique watch I had designed and she was almost tearful
The antique Dansette record player I had found for Colin has been playing our old 45s for most of the last week, so that was definitely a winner I hope that you were also spoiled and I look forward to hearing about your Christmases too.
I'll write again with the rest of the holiday news after New Year, but I just wanted to let you know that I am back into hospital on the 8th January to have further surgery. This is to hopefully resolve the uncomfortable problems I have with my tummy and finally rectify the implant issue on the left.
As it was our busiest time at work prior to Christmas I wanted to wait until the New Year before I took time off again. It seems trite to be even writing about this when we lost so many friends and colleagues to various forms of cancer this year…four in total, and, with the exception of one wonderful man who fought for 10 years, we were all diagnosed within six months of each other…
This Christmas it's been hard not to think of the families, wives, husbands and children who have all had to cope without the people they loved…and for me not to feel lucky yet sad at the same time.
I know too from reading your comments on this blog, that many of you have struggled this year and lost those you love, suffered ill health, and had to cope with family issues. I hope so very much that 2014 will a better year for you all.
Stay strong, spend as much time as possible with those who make you happy, and always let those around you know you love them Thank you for everything you've given to me this year in terms of love and support, and I look forward to hearing from you when you have a moment.
With my love, Ali xx