18 sleeps: ‘When I Was Little’

7 Dec

Back on track: I asked @Nellbelleandme to write a piece for our Christmas ‘Blog Advent’. With 18 sleeps to go, I hop you enjoy this lovely account, whilst she creates some magical memories for her children, drawing upon her own experiences:  

I love Christmas. I love the magic of it, the fact that for a few weeks out the year, you a get out of jail free card, that lets you put life on hold, submerging yourself in roaring fires, Angels with tinsel, chocolate boxes and Bailey’s from noon. Life has a fireside glow about it and I don’t, for the life of me, understand why everyone doesn’t decorate from the 1st of December and spend the whole countdown to the 25th, in a mild hysteria, like me. As everything it seems, can be traced back to childhood experiences, I assume this excitement comes from being an only child, where Christmas was spent, in an only child haze of delirium and presents, the focus of everyone’s attention, where love and excitement seeped into every grain of the house.


So when I got completely over excited and created three children, the one thing I worried about (amongst all the millions of other tiny worries that having children bring) was that they wouldn’t ever have the individual, focussed love, that I had had, as an only child. And more importantly, that they wouldn’t ever be able to create memories like mine, of a magical wondrous Christmas. A silly worry as it turned out, because one of the most astonishing things about having more than one child, is that the love you felt for your first, can be replicated over and over. Love isn’t a finite cake, which you have to halve and then quarter, until you only have a crumb left for the last child. It is an infinite picnic hamper of ever refilling Waitrose organic produce (with really expensive wine and a damn nice set of Liberty cutlery), which God himself packs for you.

Still, with Christmas approaching, the old worry returned and it occurred to me that it would be lovely to spend a little time with my oldest, 9 year old Nell, and so we decided to go to London for the day. Nell is the one that turned my 2 dimensional world into a 3 dimensional Technicolor boom. She is the one who reminds me that hurricane third child has a party, that a permission slip need to be returned for son – whom no woman will ever be good enough for – and who walks through life with a quiet empathy, that means it would be all too easy to miss she was even there. So I felt totally justified in sneaking her off school for the day and to go and see the Christmas Lights! Just me and her – girls together -like me and my mum.


Anyone on Twitter last Friday, will be able to testify to the state of barely containable excitement that emanated from us both, as we took the train to London.  First off we hit St Paul’s. This was not just because it was the reason I had given to the school for kidnapping her, but also because I wanted her to see the Occupying London Stock Exchange tents. It was lovely and peaceful and even the old drunk trailing behind us saying how children belonged to us all (‘BACK OFF THE 9 YEAR OLD’), didn’t spoil it. 

Then to Covent Garden – on the way I loudly pointed out Earls Court on the map as ‘the place where daddy and me made you’ which, in hindsight, neither she nor the packed tube, really wanted to hear about – where we got her best friend a key ring and her, a pair of Very Grown up Boots. There were no hot roasted chestnuts, like I remember as a child, but there was Hamleys when we got to Oxford Circus, which Nell walked around with her mouth wide open. Then we had lunch at Trafalgar Square, sun jumping off the clear water as I regaled her with stories from younger times, when as a drunk new MET employee, I fell into the water on a rather wild and wet night out, and had travelled home, soppy but happy on the late night bus through a sparkling London.


We went into as many shops as we could squeeze in, each filled to the brim with decorations and lights and presents and toys, until we collapsed in a heap on the train back. We had a truly wonderful day. It was amazing to spend that time, at the beginning of Christmas, with my best little friend and we both decided there and then, to make it a, (girl’s) family Christmas tradition (to which hurricane third child will be invited when she is less of a hurricane). So even though I still worry that I had far too many children to give them each the individual attention I had, I like to think I manage to give them each a little bit of magic along the way, though this is of course nothing, compared to the amount of brilliant Christmas magic they all give me back all year long!

And just in case you all feel sorry for Hurricane Third Child for not going…. she got shoes brought back as a present!


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