The presents are unwrapped, the boxes played with, the paper scattered and all that packaging rehomed to the bin. The last of the chocolate coins were eaten (I’m sure I’ve digested at least my bodyweight, most of it when the kiddies were asleep) and any family-sized chocolate boxes that aren’t completely empty, now only contain the ones that nobody likes. My fridge is empty, save for milk and a few good cheeses left over from New Year. It’s surprising how long you can try to feed a family on dry stuff and cheese when you hate shopping as much as I do.
The tree –
(Yes. I bought a tree. It wasn’t intentional: it was nine o’clock on a Friday night, the Tiddler was crying and we were completely out of milk. Even UHT and left-over formula. Toddler said, ‘Make him stop, Mummy’ and I said, ‘Get dressed. We’re going to the late supermarket.’
Anyway, there was a lovely man selling Christmas trees outside the supermarket, who didn’t blink twice to see a three year-old and a bare-footed Toddler out so late in their pyjamas. Toddler pointed at the biggest tree and said, ‘we’ll have to get a big house to put that one in, won’t we, Mummy?’
‘I don’t think we’ll buy one that size, love.’
Toddler looked suddenly excited and I realised that I’d just consented to a Christmas tree. It struck me that if we bought one then, I wouldn’t have to think of anywhere to take them in the morning because they’d be so excited about decorating it.
‘Twenty quid for a tree? Oh go on then.’
Then I thought about the horrors of searching for half-bricks to stablise buckets, so I paid a tenner for a stand as well.
Yeah, I know. Duped. And I nearly forgot the bloody milk.
Anyway, to all my friends who posted pictures on Facebook of trees their three-year-olds had decorated, you’ve been rumbled. I know exactly what a tree decorated by a three-year-old (with the assistance of an eighteen-month-old) looks like. Still; they loved it.
A rare consolation of January: soon I will be able to walk into my local cafe again without my Cortisol soaring. Why is it that people get trees, cover them in lights and shiny things that appeal to children, leave them in a corner and then spend all their time tut-tutting from behind the counter as I try to place my order –
‘A coffee please. What do we look with, Toddler? Our EYES!’
‘OK. You can touch one. Gently.
‘I don’t know, do I. Whichever one of those means a normal coffee. With milk in. NO! That’s NOT gently!
‘No! Don’t pull it ooooooff!’)
Anyway, what was I saying? The tree keeps getting put off until tomorrow. I keep thinking about all the Thankyou Letters I am going to write. (I love writing thankyou letters. They are important to me and I savour them. Often until the summer….)
Anyway. Welcome to ‘after Christmas,’ that long fabled time in your life when you were going to get round to doing all sorts of things. I already told you that it’s a rubbish time of year for resolutions, so instead let’s talk about the Box Game from Hogmanay.
Take a big open box and a circle of people. Each person has to bend over and pick the box up… in their mouths. Without using their hands. Or knees. Even to touch the floor.
When everyone’s done this, you tear a strip of cardboard from all sides of the box, making a moderately lower box. Repeat.
One by one, the players cannot do it and drop out.
Now then: I admit to choosing this game because I am good at it. I have played it before, with GirlGuiding types (all adult, after a few drinks, a lot of them ten years younger than me). One by one people dropped out and I felt more and more smug, bending lower and lower. There were just three of us left when the box was reduced to a flat peice of card on the floor. Three of us succeeded and we were pronnounced joint winners. It was worth it, even if my legs ached one hell of a lot once I’d sobered up next morning.
Well, it turns out that the box game isn’t nearly so glorifying when a) you have had 2 children since then, b) your friends are not a random distribution of people who happen to be girlguiders, but climbers / walkers / rowers / cyclists and that sort of thing. In particular, if c) one of them is Emma ( https://lizziebulleyment.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/what-you-want-it-to/ ) and another of them is Gareth ( https://lizziebulleyment.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/competition/ )
Turns out, there are some rules I didn’t know about. After everyone has picked up the flat bit of card from the floor with their mouths, you can continue to increase the difficulty by standing on increasing numbers of Alpine journals to do this….
Anyway, it made me think quite hard about my flexibility, which has decreased markedly over recent years and particularly since I started running.
Apparently you’re supposed to do something called stretching – who knew?
So it turns out I’ve got a New Years Resolution after all.
(NB the Box Game picture is stolen it from another WordPress blogger, https://keiradownunder.wordpress.com/2013/06/page/2/ which explains why the people are mostly wearing shorts, where as I had changed into my PJ bottoms in case my jeans were to blame (they were not). This is the only relevant photo you get if you google ‘box game, drinking, bend over pick box up in mouth’ but a few pictures later you get one of Mary Berry and Paul whats-is-name. Explain that.