Ahhh, can you smell it in the air? The aroma of freshly cut pine trees, the cinnamon spices of mulled wine, the rich creamy eggnog, chestnuts roasting on an open fire and the honey-glazed ham roasting slowly in the oven. No? Exactly. It’s November. The reason why I don’t desire Christmas to hurry this year or indeed every year is because I have yet to buy a single present. It doesn’t seem two minutes ago since I was making a sarcastic comment about it being July when my friends were sending me messages asking if I wanted to book the kids onto the ‘Santa Train’. And now, my children will not be riding on Santa’s Train and Christmas is suddenly upon us…(it’s not, it’s November.)
I often refuse to acknowledge Christmas until our pupils leave at lunch time on the last Friday before Santa arrives. However, after a week filled with endless vomiting and soaring temperatures, when my friend (you all know her as JC) text to see if we wanted to go and watch the Christmas lights being turned on in our local village, I said ‘yes’. Well, first of all I made a sarcastic comment about it being November, but then threw my vomit covered favourite jogging bottoms in the wash, applied foundation, mascara and even eyeliner and agreed to meet her outside Morrisons.
So here is our guide (as JC always has a hand in making these situations funny) to enjoying a festive light switch on this
1. Wrap up warm.
I layered the girl up so that she would be nice and toasty as the temperature dropped suddenly over night. She had her new coat on, gloves, hat, scarf and UGGs. She was good to go. Me? I threw on my jeans, leather boots a white T-Shirt and a leather jacket. I searched around the house for a pair of gloves and found one single leather one. (I think I accidently put the other in the washing machine a while back…) Grabbing my girl’s Peppa and George hand warmers out of the playroom, I too was good to go. Unfortunately, Peppa and George were not going to suffice. The cold hit me like a slap in the face – I was not going to last the afternoon. Worried that we were going to be kicked out of Morrisons for loitering, I dragged the girl deeper into the warmth in order to buy a pair of gloves. £1.50 later and I was the proud owner of some gloves; I could feel my fingers again and was ready to meet JC. When she arrived, she too was gloveless and her jeans were ripped to pieces – in a follower of fashion kind of way – not in a she needed a new pair of jeans kind of way. We continued to hang around in the doorway of the supermarket until the sounds of our children begging to go on the rides outside became a little too much to bear.
2. Find the nearest stall that sells alcohol.
Admittedly, this sounds quite bad, but there was a reason for us seeking out alcohol before allowing our children to go on any rides or seeing the Christmas light being turned on. We were freezing. The alcohol was mulled wine and the mulled wine was hot. Boiling in fact. We watched it come to the boil on an outside stove. Using the plastic glasses as her gloves, JC was visibly shaking and I feared that my alcohol would end up on the pavement wasted and steaming – pun totally intended. By this time, our children were making their way through the crowds and heading for the rides. So, I downed my drink, burnt the top layer from the roof of my mouth, enjoyed a brief warm and fuzzy feeling in my stomach and braced myself for the artic winds to wrap themselves around me as I stood and watched our children on the tea cups and the chair swings. JC, on the other hand, held onto her drink for dear life until every ounce of warmth had vanished from it. Realising that it was now just basically red wine – a drink she hates – she threw it away.
3. Allow your children to go on the rides.
After all, that is what you are there for isn’t it? Oh no. It’s not, it’s the lights. Since when did the Christmas light turn on become an all day event? There were festive stalls, craft fairs, face painting, three caged reindeer and extortionately priced kids’ rides lined up one after the other. The first up was the tea cups.
‘Two pound each please,’ the man said.
‘Do you mean two pound per cup?’ I questioned.
I reluctantly handed over the cash and less than five minutes later the ride was over.
I took note of the fact that not only were the rides situated outside a ’24hr cash’ cash point, but they also blocked the path to the nearest local pub. The pub that we had already agreed to have a swift half of lager in before the big Christmas light switch on. Was this some evil genius plan that the ride owners had hatched earlier in the day? Did they realise that in order to endure the day, the grown ups would need alcohol and yet to reach the alcohol, the they would have to pay £2 for every ride along the way?
4. Promise your children that they can go on more rides later and go to the pub.
We could not endure the cold any longer and the pub was in view.
‘Can we go on more rides?’
‘Yes, of course. Let’s just go warm up for a little bit.’
My girl pointed to the seats outside the pub.
‘Are we going to this cafe to warm up?’
‘Yes darling. The cafe’
Now this pub isn’t your local family friendly Harvester with a children’s play area, balloons and ice creams. No, this is the village pub. One that adults go to in the afternoon to enjoy a pint and watch sport on the big screen. After ordering a drink, we found a seat near the big screen that was showing football. Once seated, we awaited the dirty looks that were sure the come from the regular clientele. I did, however, notice some other parents in the corner dethawing with a pint. Then the bar manager approached us.
‘Do you want some cartoons on?’
That was not the question I expected.
‘Look, Scooby Doo is on. I watched that when I was a lad.’
A cheer came from the kids, a moan from the bar and we drunk our beers ignoring any judgement that was being passed.
5. Allow your children one more ride, but then change your mind at the last minute due to the artic gale that has just sliced its way through your ears.
Yes, the time came to leave the ‘cafe’ and the children were once again enticed by the rides.
‘Mummy, can I go on another ride?’
I had lost the feeling in my fingers already.
‘No darling,’ I looked up and spotted our local ‘Original Factory Shop. ‘I need a new washing up bowl, let’s go in here for a minute.’
She refused and she kicked and screamed. Picking her up, I took her into the shop where she continued to scream. Worrying that the customers may think I had accosted her from the chair swings, I put her down and said rather loudly:
‘Hold Mummy’s hand.’
She ran off and headed for the door. Customers eyed me suspiciously.
Thankfully, JC entered behind us with her two children and my girl settled and giggled when she saw her friends. We browsed the aisles for a few minutes, warmed up and made a plan about waiting around for the Christmas lights. As we were leaving the shop, I spotted another friend and said ‘hello.’ From the corner of my eye, I noticed JC hot on heels of her daughter who had just accidently stolen a stuffed Santa from the store.
6. Call it a day and go home.
The firework display and fireworks began at 5pm. At 4.05, we were cold, skint and close to being arrested for stealing Santa. We decided to call it a day. Maybe it was karma for trying to be festive in November, maybe it was the frozen snot icicles dangling from the ends of our children’s noses, but we weren’t going to see the Christmas lights being turned on after all. However, no one seemed to mind because we had had fun and seen our friends.
7. Upon your return home, log onto Facebook.
Seeing as the Christmas light turn on was a local event, many of my ‘Facebook Friends’ were there also and had taken pictures. I gathered up my children, logged into my account and we cooed in wonder at pictures of the festive lights and the fireworks that were lighting up the sky around Morrisons, The Original Factory Shop and the 24 hour cash machine!