A Conscious Uncoupling - Christmas 2015 Me And Mine

Heeeeeelllloooooo! Is there anybody out there?!!!!

My brother said to me the other day, "Wow you haven't posted in ages!!" And it's true, I'd believe you if you thought I was never planning to post again it's been so long! In the lead up to this Christmas time I knew I needed a rest. I needed to let my mind rest, if that makes any sense. Totally indulge in family time and eating and drinking without pausing to snap every moment and lose track of time.

Just before Christmas we went on a family holiday to the most spectacular mountains. I can't wait to share it all with you but it would have all been too rushed in the week of Christmas. It's funny because I thought that I had come back with a different feeling to our summer holiday. That my tired legs from shooping down the slopes had overshadowed that post-holiday relaxing glow that shone out of us all when we landed from Greece. People had said to me and I've said it in the past myself, that a skiing holiday isn't the same sort of relaxing as a beach trip, but it turns out I was much calmer than I thought!

We landed on Sunday 20th to a week of loveliness. A visit to Father Christmas with best friends and Sammy's sweetheart, then a big family party in Oxford, and then it was Christmas Eve! 

It's a strange feeling to consciously stop yourself from blogging. If you are a blogger reading this you will know exactly what I mean. It feels alien, almost frightening. What if no one comes back to read when you finally feel ready and refreshed?! I want to have albums bursting with photos like my mum has of us, but when I really thought about it, those albums don't have 30 pictures of the christmas dinner from every angle, they have one. There isn't endless pictures of us opening our presents, there's the shot of our tradition - laying the stockings in the lounge, and then there's the big family shot. The albums are full of people, smiling faces, piles of excitedly torn wrapping paper. They weren't photos taken for a blog post, they were photos taken for her, for us.

There's one of the Christmas table, eyes under paper hats too big for little heads. There's the tree, the games and cousins all lined up in a row. All the things that are most important to me are there and this year I tried to do the same. The moments I loved. Making pizzas before Grandma and Grandad arrived on Christmas Eve, my favourite new decorations hanging from the mistletoe from the school Christmas fayre. The year Sammy discovered cheesy jokes and thought they were hysterical, making up his own puns for the crackers and the little things that spark so many memories. The kindness of a stranger, well not a stranger but a lovely new friend, who slipped the boys a couple of vintage lorries with a little tree on top as I shopped for my festive flowers. Making our own mini trifles, taking time to lay the table with the ivy from the garden, sprinkling feathers collected from a wonderful new friend all around the house and snapping the most precious moment, cousins feeling their new cousins who we will meet in 2016.

On Christmas Eve, I should have shared a post in collaboration with a fantastic family brand I am representing this year, Slumberdown. They promote all the same values as I hope I do, and in the haze of cleaning the house ready for our Christmas visitors, signing for very last minute deliveries at 2pm, flinging cheese and salami around in the kitchen, racing to the village crib service to light our Christingle candles, then home for a "The Holiday movie" style disco in the living room, I ran out of minutes to open the laptop. The post was all about our Christmas traditions, traditions that when I scrolled through my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds I could see were in almost every house in the land.  

The plates of mince pies, the carrots, the handwritten notes, the Twas the Night Before Christmas bedtime stories. The flour and sugary snow sprinkled lovingly by fireplaces and front doors, little traces of magic and glitter for wondrous eyes in the morning. Everyone was busy making their own beautiful special memories and I realised it was so important to make ours instead of hiding away on a laptop writing about them. So I'm sharing this post, a snap shot of our Christmas, the little things I will remember from 2015.

I couldn't think of a better phrase to describe this festive period for me than conscious uncoupling. It might sound terrible that I needed to practically force myself away from the laptop but I did. Bar a couple of photos a day, and sometimes not even a couple to Instagram, I have taken a wee break from the internet. The holiday was the kickstart I needed to a real family Christmas. My brother and sister in law flew back from America on Christmas Day night and we had 4 days of absolute quality time. We build up my brother's trips back home so much that often we burden ourselves with expectation. I do it so often, build events up in my mind and almost give Rich and the boys, unachievable goals! Nothing is perfect and nothing has to be perfect. Kids will still spill drinks all over your beautiful table display but so what?! The boys will still have a meltdown, even on a day when you can't imagine that they would have anything to argue about. The dinner won't be served on time. Or in my case, even with preprepared veggies and microwavable bread sauce and gravy, you will still sit down an hour and a half behind schedule!

We save the presents under the tree until after the Queen's speech. We always have and always will and this year by the end of the seemingly endless pile from friends and family the boys opened our big present. And do you know what? The reaction was priceless. "Oh ok, a games table..." 

Admittedly it was still in the box, and maybe had it all been made up ready to play they would have been jumping around like the fleas we discovered on the dogs on the 27th! Urgh - I will spare you the details but in 7 years we have never experienced those pesky bugs on the dogs and hopefully never will again, but it taught us a lesson.

It had all got too much. Present opening had become about opening, not about what was inside. So as mean as it may sound, we have returned the table and perhaps in a couple of years will buy it again. 

In these days between Christmas and New Year the boys have played and played. We've sat on the floor with Disney movies in the background, singing along to the Little Mermaid and Aladdin, been splatted with squirty cream whilst playing Pie Face and I have soaked up the memories of watching my brother lie on his tummy making Hot Wheels sets and rolling around with the little nephews and niece. 

We are away in my happy place, down at my family holiday flat in Southbourne with best friends and their boys and tonight we will stand on the balcony with sparklers and mis matched glasses of bubbly and toast the new year and I couldn't think of anywhere I'd rather be.

So I am going to end this year of Me and Mine with all of mine. These are my favourite people, the ones I want to sit and do nothing with, eat cheese at 10 o'clock at night with, people I love who aren't even here yet. Sammy asked us how you know when you love someone the other day. And we turned to each other and said what we have said for years to each other. You know, because when you touch that person, when you brush up against them, when you hug them hello or hug them goodbye, or hug them in the middle of the day for no reason at all, you feel something. In your chest, it makes you feel happy to be next to them, to cuddle up under a blanket. And that feeling that you can't quite describe, is love.

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas, an exciting, healthy and adventurous new year. Writing a blog is a privilege and a pleasure, that people want to read about your plans, that I get to record the places we travel to, the people we meet, the things that excite me and the companies I discover. I am so proud of the Me and Mine Project. Years now of family photos I absolutely would not have without the encouragement and camaraderie of my fellow hosts Lucy, Katie, Jenny, Fritha and Alex

I can't wait to share in their journeys next year, the new baby joining the Mummy Daddy Me family and share the new additions to my family. A little niece to be born in America and a little niece or nephew due in just 3 weeks! We won't be adding to our brood but we may add to our furry baby brood... my mum bought me a fabulous book for Christmas - a guide to keeping micro pigs! 

Come and share your family photo, and if in the madness of Christmas you missed snapping one, take this post as the perfect excuse and capture one today!