I've just had the sort of Christmas that seems to be considered a myth by most people these days. A few lovely days spent with family - no rows to speak of, lots of nice food and drink, some telly and some playing of board games, and presents which made people happy in both the giving and the receiving. Brilliant.
I arrived early on Saturday evening to find the house all beautifully decorated and we had a nice quiet night in. Alma popped round from next door for a chat and a coffee and mince pie, and we had lovely lamb with ratatouille for dinner and watched Strictly Ballroom on video.
Sunday (Christmas Eve) was a lazy day. Got up late to find my mum had been baking mince pies and pottered round the house, watched a bit of random telly and had hot pork pies with mushy peas and mint sauce for lunch, and I finished knitting Emily's Christmas present - a rather enormous scarf in a lovely dusky pink (Rowan Little Big Wool). Then we went out to the cinema and watched Deja Vu, which was pretty good, had a quick pint at the pub next door, and bought pizza on the way home and ate it watching Chicken Run on the telly. We got to bed fairly late, and I had to leave santa a note with his little Christmas tipple "Dear Santa, Sorry I can't find any sherry. Hope you like whisky. Love, The Blairs". Mike texted on his way home from the pub so I rang him back and sort-of walked him the 3.5 miles home, which was nice.
Christmas Day was a bit odd, because there were just the three of us in the morning. Normally we'd get up and open presents first thing, but we decided to wait for John and Emily, who joined us around 1:30. Em was obviously dead chuffed with her scarf, and so was my mum with the framed print I'd given her of one of the photos from her birthday week away this summer. Everyone else had done really well too - I've got some lovely perfume from Em and a pair of le Creuset saucepans from mum and dad. Mum had the most gorgeous cake plate to match the rest of her teaset and dad had lots and bits of people for his flying lessons - a chart of the UK and some gadgets for calculating directions and so on.
It was just the 5 of us for lunch which was like old times, and it was 4:30 by the time we finished absolutely stuffed. Everything was lovely as usual, even the sprouts :). It does help if you like that sort of meal, and it seems we all do. In the afternoon we broke out the new board game I got my parents - Absolute Balderdash. Each go there's a new word or law or movie plot etc to make up, and you have to try and guess which is the right one, earning points to move around the board. It takes a while but it's really good fun. Sadly in the evening it seemed we wanted to watch telly just in the gap between 8pm and 11pm when there were no films on - so we broke out What's Eating Gilbert Grape which is as good as ever. And then finished the day with just a little cheese and crackers and a slice of cake for supper before bed. It was a really nice day.
And so was Boxing Day, although it was all change. Em and John had to leave early, as Em's shop was opening at 11 and she had to be there in advance. She does seem to enjoy working in retail, but the hours are definitely a bit of a downside. So we had another quiet morning until the family began to arrive in the afternoon. Cousin Alistair drove over with Grandma and Grandad, then Steph and Dave made it home from Southampton and Uncle Jon and Caroline arrived with cousins Jacob (5) and Anna (3), all within the space of a couple of hours. This led to lots more opening of presents with Jake and Anna having the best ones. So there followed an evening of driving the remote control digger, throwing polystyrene gliders, sailing the lego police boat in the bath (and getting water everywhere by turning on the water jets when it wasn't quite full enough) and reading about little nut brown hare and the Gruffalo (complete with jigsaws for illustrations). It was all really good fun, and somewhere we fit in a big christmassy buffet with leftover turkey, salad, pork pie, paté, pringles, bread and cheese, christmas cake, mince pies and home made trifle. It's not Christmas unless you get a proper big pork pie and a trifle somewhere along the line. And when everyone else left at 8ish we played some more Balderdash with Steph and Dave.
I got up even later on Wednesday, to another tradition for lunch: turkey curry. And very nice it was too. JDC popped round in the afternoon and caught us just finishing yet another round of Balderdash, though he didn't get to join in. We also introduced him to the game of Chairs which is another family favourite, before he headed off to find some chips and then a pint with an old school friend. And Mum's oldest brother Tom and his wife Diana joined us for the evening, for dinner and chat and some more Chairs and just sitting around catching up with each other.
And then it was Thursday and time to come home, with an even heavier bag than I'd arrived with. It was a good trip home though, and Mike came round once I'd got home for our own little Christmas where we opened the rest of our presents to each other, and it was just lovely to spend some time together to make up for four days apart before going out for dinner at Ask, which may not be very special but was the first place we ate out together, and hence was very nice. It was a lovely (ok, need more adjectives) way to round off the week, and it's just been a perfectly happy and relaxed few days.
We've got some lovely things to cook for dinner tonight too, which I'm looking forward to. Mike's gone out to do a little shopping first - Christmas vouchers to spend and a cable to pick up so he can use the distortion pedal I've bought him for his guitar. I've spent this afternoon catching up a little online - I've got my inbox back to normal and have skimmed the first couple of pages of my LJ friends list. I'm planning to spend the next couple of days quietly, with lots of reading, then probably out for chinese on Sunday evening before seeing in the New Year at Relativity.
A very Merry Christmas, and hopefully a very Happy New Year.