Saturday, December 03, 2005

Fa la la la la, la la la la....

IT IS officially December now and so my self-imposed ban on talking about all things related to Santa, tinsel and glittery baubles has been reluctantly lifted.

I now have to come out of full denial mode and realise that Christmas is a mere hop, skip and holly bush away and I'd better start getting my arse into the festive swing of things.
I'll admit, I have a big plus factor on my side this year. With the wee man approaching the two-year-old mark he has an increasing understanding of the magic of Christmas.
He screams "Sadda" at the top of his lungs should he see an image of the man decked in red, and will listen along quite nicely to my tuneless renditions of "Away in a Manger"- but even his excitement has not lifted me out of the Autumnal doldrums.
You see, this year is different to any year before as the Allan clan en masse are leaving behind the twinkling lights of the Foyle Bridge and magic of midnight Mass at the Long Tower for a weekend of festive frolics at the hands of the in-laws.
Those who read this column will know that there are two universal truths in my life. The first is that I love my mammy and daddy and will spend as much time as any 29-year-old married woman legally can in their company.
The second is that time spent with my in-laws, all lovely in their own right, fills me with a certain sense of dread and foreboding. You see, much as they can offer the sun, moon and plum pudding, it is just not the same as Christmas, Derry style.
This will be the first year I wake up in a bed that is not my own on the big morning. I imagine it will be that wee bit more dramatic than the first time I actually spent Christmas away from my mammy and daddy's house. I bawled into my pillow for several hours on Christmas Eve as himself tried to console me with Quality Street and wine. I only truly came around when we arrived at my mum's the next day, cracked open the wine and started singing Christmas carols.
But this year we are moving up a gear in my battle to become a proper grown up and that involves making my husband's Christmas wish come true by spending it with his family- for the first time in four years of marriage.
My sister-in-law, a lovely woman called Lynn, lives in a gorgeous and very picturesque village in deepest, darkest Cheshire. Her house is the kind of house that makes our wee terrace look like a shack in a South African shanty town.

Her spare room is a gorgeous sumptuous creations decorated in creams and chocolate browns and we will even have our own en-suite complete with power shower. If we want to be extra decadent, there is an adjoining room where the wee man can sleep to give us some peace and quiet.
I'm assured the day will be lovely. A cooked breakfast will be followed by a leisurely drive to my father-in-law's new house (which is apparantly in the middle of a forest by a fancy!) and a play around the garden with the wee man and my niece and nephew before dinner, a leisurely gossip and some wine. (The one benefit of my inability to pass a driving test being that himself will be the designated driver for the day).
We'll drive back to the picturesque village some time later and on Boxing Day the family will converge again for board games, a bit of craic and loads of fattening food (I'm resisting the urge to mention wine again given that I've already mentioned a stupid amount of times).
I should be in seventh heaven about the whole thing, especially as the tickets are courtesy of a freebie from Easyjet, but instead I'm in a right royal grump.
I suppose like many a good Derry woman I'm still attached to my mammy by some invisible umbilical chord and if I'm honest, I'm also incredibly selfish. I can't help but wonder if Christmas will have the same magic when it is not in my own surroundings, watching the lights twinkle on my own tree and listening to John Denver and the Muppets with my daddy.
I suppose the only cure is to catch that Christmas fever. I may have to force myself up to Foyleside for a bit of retail therapy, or force himself to pull the tree from the attic and set to work (This year's theme- whatever the wee man can't pull down/ eat/ stuff up his nose).
I'll sit down and talk to my mammy and daddy about how we can have a second Christmas day when we get back from our travels (Twice the presents, wooohooo!) and I will try to remind myself that the most important thing about the day is that I get to spend it with himself and the wee man.
I suppose it is part of growing up and maturing that sometimes you have to realise that Christmas is not so much about the day itself but about who you spend it with. And if I'm honest, I'm kind of looking forward to playing in the forest and walking down the lanes of the picturesque village.
In fact, there is a wee pub right in the heart of the town which serves lovely soup and rolls and welcome manic toddlers with open could all work out after all.

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