Hello and welcome back after Christmas (didn't that time fly?). Before we move into the New Year I wanted to share some of our Christmas time with you. Here's what we got up to:
On Christmas Eve, we went to the Crib service at our local church. For the first time in a few years the weather was calm enough for this to take place outdoors again. I love it when it's outside and the little ones get to carry the figures into the actual "stable". Our local Nativity Scene will always be precious to me.
The service was lovely and we saw lots of local friends. As the service continued, the sun began to set, creating a beautiful backdrop.
We sang Christmas Carols and really felt in the Christmas Spirit.
Tragically, a local girl, Tia, had only been buried a few days earlier. Tia and her family were all in our thoughts throughout the service, then near the end the sky turned pink to match the pink balloons tied onto the arch in memory of this special girl.
I join the whole town in sending love to the family during this painful time.
We came home to a Christmas tea put on by the boys Dave and Danny. We enjoyed this and I made myself a "vegan baileys" using Kahula and chocolate milk. Bailey's is the only thing I worried I would miss during my first Christmas as a vegan but this coffee liqueur saved the day!
We then mixed up our reindeer food ready to sprinkle it outdoors. I later read that the RSPCA were asking people to not sprinkle it outdoors this year. Our mixture only contained oats and bird seeds so if any birds or animals accidentally ate some of the reindeer scraps then they would have been fine. Please remember to not add any glitter or edible glitter as it's not good for reindeer or wildlife.
We sprinkled our wildlife friendly "Reindeer Food" into the garden to help the reindeer find their way and to give them a little extra energy snack.
The kids had a Lush "Father Christmas Bath Bomb" in their bedtime bath (I still miss Lush Christmas Eve bath bombs!).
Next we put out the drink for Santa, a mince pie and a carrot for Rudolph. I say "we" but the kids did this all by themselves just like the reindeer food. Therefore instead of our Christmas plate, Santa was given his mince pie on a chipped side plate (sorry Santa!). Danny also decided that he'd like a Babycham instead of sherry. Caitlyn wrote the "Welcome to our house" and "Thank you" sign on our heart chalk board. Not long after this photo Rebecca rubbed it off and wrote her own sign saying, "Merry Christmas! Mince Pie here \/). Caitlyn wasn't happy but we resolved the issue by all kids writing their own card out to Santa in the end! So it wasn't "Pinterest Perfect" whatever that is but Santa loved his treat and this mum loved watching her growing kids "owning" their own Christmas traditions in this house.
We woke up Christmas morning and discovered that the magic had happened- he had been! Even though I'm a grown up, it still amazes me how it all comes together.
I love the kids reactions!
There was a flurry of unwrapping and parents ready with the orange bag for the rubbish. The kids couldn't wait to give us their cards and little surprises they'd made for us too.
I'm going to write a whole post about the present in the photo above, which was a present for Izzy but ended up being for me!
After opening our presents, we went to Nanny's house. First, we went to the cemetery to lay flowers (and a real mini Christmas tree) on Dad's grave. He will always be foremost in our thoughts, especially at Christmas, but he was such a kind, lovely man, we know he would want us to eat well, have a drink and enjoy the special day. It will always hurt that he never got the chance to see his Grandchildren though and he'll always be remembered and greatly missed.
Back to mums and there were more presents to give and receive (thank you all!) and my favourite part of the day- Christmas Dinner! Now as a one time vegetarian and now vegan some people find it odd that it's my favourite part of the day. While I will never eat turkey, I love the extended family sitting together, the crackers, bad jokes, Christmas hats, the obligatory family photo, Christmas cheers and bubbly, posh drinks for the kids and all the delicious food- Duchess potatoes, roast potatoes and fresh stuffing are some of my favourites but suffice to say I had a plate full and extras (than you so much Mum for feeding us all, and especially for making me vegan options this year).
There's always a little surprise at the end of Christmas dinner. At one point we used to all give each other little gifts such as jewellery. This year the kids all had mini crackers with a gift in and the adults had scratch cards. We won a few pound between us all!
Cerys' giant Ferrero Rocher inspired me to bookmark a recipe to make my own vegan ferrero rochers in the New Year.
Then we went over to Great Granny and Grampy's to see more family. There were more presents to give and receive (there is a theme here!). Above, Danny models one of Dave's presents (I'm not sure Dave will get it back if I'm honest!).
We saw Mr and Mrs Christmas, aka Phil and Suzanne, John, Andy, Granny and Grampy and of course Great Granny and Grampy. Their neighbours also pop in for half an hour every year. It's the only time I ever see them but seeing them every Christmas has become one of our traditions now!
The room was full of toys but as always the best "toys" were "the hatch" and also Great Grampy's chair! Here they're pretending to sleep on it.
A flat out Izzy on the foot stool!
We enjoyed a delicious Christmas tea. In the best kind of coincidence, Andy and I became vegan more or less at the same time which is perfect both morale and sharing food wise! We then went back to Nanny's where we stay over Christmas. Sometimes we walk but this year Andy gave us a lift (thank you!).
Back at Nanny's, it was clear that someone had missed us- Toby dog! He had to keep one paw on Danny and also cuddle Rebecca as he wanted cuddles from everyone at once.
Then he went around everyone else for cuddles so nobody felt left out.
When Danny went to bed, Izzy called me down to see him sleeping as he "looked cute", then I found her sleeping on the settee with Daddy also looking cute.
Boxing Day was all about playing with our presents or eating them in the case of my dairy free chocolates from Granny and Grampy- divine!
We, the "Evans sisters" recreated our "Boxing Day" photo from a few years back. Our shandy was swapped for Baileys and Jo and I had to swap sides (due to her stroke) but we achieved it!
...and more computer games (the Wii).
Our favourite "board game" this Christmas has to be Tipping Point - it was brilliant fun and Danny made the best host.
I love these candid shots of us playing the game.
I wondered who had taken them and then found this cousin selfie and the photographers!
If I could bottle that smile and laugh, I would. Danny, like many people with CHD, finds winter such a tiring time of year so smiles are extra precious.
More happy cousins, in matching PJ's...
...with matching tongues out!
Those Christmas evenings cuddling and chilling in the living room, lots of people all comfortable and happy together- I love it!
We're back over at Nanny's tomorrow for New Year's Eve and then back to reality next week with work and school (eek).
Thank goodness a New Year is always an exciting time, full of promise to help us through those early morning winter get ups!
I'd like to thank all my family for helping us to have a happy, peaceful Christmas, full of love (and food!) but especially the "matriarch's of Christmas" everywhere. In our family it's Mum (Nanny) and Granny (Great Granny), we all know how hard you work to make Christmas perfect and all really do appreciate it.
Did you have a lovely Christmas/break? What makes Christmas for you?