Xmas: it’s a wrap

28 December, 2012

Earth Mother flew off to Bali this Xmas, so for the first time in years, I realised it was me cooking the big lunch.  I did a Sainsburys run on the 20th and bought the frozen veggie stuff I can’t get elsewhere.  Upon entering, I realised my error, the check-out queues were 3 miles long, so I grabbed the little bits I needed and promised myself I’d finish the rest in Tesco Express (which I did –  empty of people and full of food).  My hot tip for getting out of the supermarket quickly at Xmas is, simply drag your bulging trolley towards the 10 items or less queue and divide your load up into individual baskets on the conveyor belt.  There are no supermarket laws about how many baskets you can pay for in this line – so long as each one stays within the 10 item limit.  Simple.  (Expect to be attacked by the person queuing behind you when you get to the car park though).

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Some supermarkets provide covered parking, ideal for rainy winter days.

This year, Mr Ex and I worked it so that he had the kids from 10 till 2pm on Xmas day and I had them basically the rest of the holiday.  This meant that after they’d woken up, opened all their presents, gone mad on chocolate, they disappeared.  So, my friend Sri, my mum and I all went for a lie down, just in case we were doing-too-much.  Then I got up and started cooking without anyone hassling me about who’s had more chocolate off the tree, or whose go it was on the Scalectrix.  Yep, Mum and Sri played really nicely after a little nap.

So it turned out to be a good one.  The kids loved their presents.  Afforded with some clever charity shopping, a bit of ebay and a generous refund from Southern Electricity -who I’d overpaid by several hundred pounds. Ah, isn’t it funny how those “estimated” bills work out so well in their favour?  Sami got a sledge which he slept with (hey, he’s only ten).  Amba got a second hand ipod which cost £20 and she sang her heart out, like living a day in the X-factor auditions. Asha got micro-scalectrix, which they all loved.  They built an epic series of ramps by using the various remote controls, boxes and general stuff lying around the living room together.  UF and Kat, who’d blown in from New York, were taught a lesson in speed that they won’t forget in a hurry.

If we were a typical American TV family I would be expecting that either, Mr Ex and I would finally realise that we can’t live without each other and be reconciling.  Or, the kids would realise that their step mom had their best interests at heart all along and we’d all spend Xmas lovingly together.  Happily for me, neither of these scenarios came true, but I did have a little miracle of my own.  Mr Ex, bought me a present from the children this year.  Shocking but true; having ignored me for some time, bringing them home on days like my birthday and Mother’s Day without even a folder bit of paper with “Mummy” on it, I was certainly awe-struck to hear this generous news.  Wide-eyed, Amba confided that he’d spent “seven pounds” on me this year, so I’d better get him something amazing in return.  (She also mentioned that he had specified “no liquorice”, fussy eh?).  So our haul of riches for him began with a very expensive packet of Guiness crisps (£2.87), Sami chose these.  Amba got him a set of chutneys from Cargo (half price but I didn’t tell her, £3) and Asha chose him an ex-library book (20p) about South African freedom fighters which he’d really like (because he fantasises that he was one, even though he was posh white boy in a Surrey boarding school at the time).  I also suggested that the kids get their Stepmum and her kids presents; they mentioned this to Mr Ex, who told them I should buy them myself, so I did.

There were two reasons for this.  Firstly, because they go to her house every Friday, which I really do appreciate.  (It’s technically called “their” house, but we all know he only has lodger’s rights).  Secondly, she’s been, what I can only describe as,  a “fairytale stepmother” to them recently.  I thought I’d tackle the problem with a bit of lurve (for now anyway).  The kids discussed it and chose her some organic chocolates.  Nice.

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Initially, the kids loved visiting their stepmother’s house.

I received a box of fresh macaroons which had sat under the warm Xmas tree for a couple of days.  Amba recommended the sooner I ate them the better.   We had our annual traditions  such as showing up at the village carol service embarrassingly late on Xmas eve, and playing “losing-the-money-Sakti-has-sent-us” on Xmas day. This year, Sakti excelled herself, we didn’t located it until 27th, thus setting a new family record; a perfect end to an Olympian year.

The other great present was a “Now, That’s What I (don’t) Call Music” cd which Mr Ex bought the kids.  Unfortunately, by Boxing Day someone had removed the power cable from the cd player (and hidden it in the kitchen), so the kids spent a few days, sitting in my car playing it at top volume, sharing their festive joy with our retired neighbours.

After Xmas I asked them if Mrs Ex had liked their present.  Unbelievably, they shook their innocent little heads at me.

“No?”, I cried.

“No”, they replied, “She didn’t.”

I looked down at my three angels, so, so, brave – even when faced with so much rejection.

“Y’see, she hates chocolate and we didn’t want to get her anything she liked.  So it was perfect.” They eagerly explained.

Their little faces beamed up at me, bright with Xmas spirit.

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