I was so happy to have all three of my grown-up children home over the holidays. Having all five of my children together is definitely one of my greatest pleasures. It makes me feel complete. I love the dynamic of the relationships, the laughter and the love.
Adding my gorgeously cute little grandson Ted to the mix adds to the fun. I was overjoyed this Christmas, to feel that little Ted had really bonded with his McDonald family. He was so happy and comfortable in our house, giving us hugs, saying our names and playing with us. He reminded me so much of Joe when he was a toddler, especially when he decimated the chocolate Santa tree decorations, searching for them among the baubles and proudly declaring that he had 'chocwot' every time he found one! Ted also bonded beautifully with his Great Grandad. Watching them having fun together was so heartwarming. The oldest and the youngest member of the family united through the power of play!
We continued with lots of festive family traditions this year. From doing lots of arts and crafts activities in the run up to Christmas to baking lots of festive treats including our gingerbread house.
Choosing the tree that would be brought into our home for Christmas is a serious business and this year we found the perfect tree in our local garden centre and enjoyed a warming hot chocolate in the cafe afterwards. We decorated it together using the baubles I have collected over the years, each one holding memories of Christmases past. The children also get to choose a new bauble each year. This year, Disney princesses and felt covered deer were added to the eclectic collection.
The gifts were spread out this year with a present each on Winter Solstice that paid homage to Ian's Scottish ancestry. We bought McDonald tartan inspired presents for everyone, which included a shirt, a scarf, pyjama bottoms and a nightshirt.
As usual all the Christmas dinner prep was carried out on Christmas Eve whilst the South Park Christmas CD was played! I also made a hearty, wholesome vegetable soup for our lunch. Something healthy before the onslaught of Christmas Day excess.
Christmas Eve gifts included matching onesies for the girls and Minion pj's for Freddy along with a new mug for hot chocolate, slippers, Christmas pants and socks along with a new teddy to hug, all wrapped in a festively decorated box.
The kids designed a plate to leave Santa's snacks on and Freddy sprinkled reindeer dust in the garden.
Christmas stockings were left on the children's door handles ready to be discovered and brought into our king size bed in the morning to be opened. The door to the living room was covered in wrapping paper for Freddy to burst through to discover all the goodies that Santa had delivered.
But before the unwrapping commenced we sat down to a breakfast of freshly backed croissants and Buck's Fizz to set us up for the day ahead.
My mum and dad joined us on Christmas day which was a real honour and made the day so special. They loved their presents and I managed to make my wonderful dad shed a tear or two of emotion when he opened a framed family photo montage that I made for them. I love doing nice things for my parents and sharing Christmas Day with them is right up there in those things I enjoy.
Dinner this year was a vegan feast including a homemade nut roast. I looked at so many recipes but couldn't find any that really ticked all the boxes. So I made up my own recipe incorporating all the elements I liked, tweaking it to suit our needs. So the Lentil, Cashew Nut and Chestnut Roast was born (recipe to follow soon.) It was a huge hit, especially with my dad who ate tonnes of the stuff! I served it with a vegan 'sausage' and chestnut stuffing, which was like a main course in its own right, and all the usual Christmas dinner trimmings (including vegan pigs in blankets).
This year we had a Big Christmas Challenge after dinner, which I had spent weeks working on. It included questions on 2014, news, films, music, Christmas traditions, carols, anagrams, picture quizzes etc plus each family member wrote 5 questions based on their own 2014 experiences to test everyone on. It was a lot of fun and kept us all busy in the post dinner lull!
We got to do Christmas all over again two days later when Joe, Jade and Ted visited for the weekend. My parents came back again too to see them all bringing four generations together under one roof. Ella's boyfriend Frank also came to stay and we enjoyed another roast dinner and even more presents. We discovered that Frank is one of the most thoughtful gift givers ever and that he makes my daughter so happy...definitely a keeper!
Thankfully, the illness that has plagued me for the past 8 weeks did not spoil my Christmas in any way. I battled through and refused to let it get the better of me. I'm still not 100% better yet, but feel revitalised and ready to take on 2015!
Christmas was definitely pretty chaotic and hectic this year, but it was tonnes of fun and filled with hundreds of happy moments that we will remember for years to come. Family means everything to me and spending the festive season with my loved ones was a simply perfect end to the year.