The scene was set! Letters to Santa had been written, requests made and now Christmas morning had finally arrived along with our little baby Jesus figurine in our nativity scene.
The kids clambered down the stairs like wild animals...Tilly screaming, 'My presents, my presents' at full volume. It was the seasonal stampede! It was mayhem!
I had long since resigned myself to the impossibility of the genteel Christmas morning of my pre-motherhood expectations. That missing Christmas scene from the 'Sound of Music' with yours truly starring as Maria, calm and smiling, without even a hint of panic sweat forming!
I had abandoned all imaginings of the hand-sewn matching outfits and the seven part harmony of 'silent night' before breakfast.
As my children trampled over the top of me screaming, pushing, wet nappies sagging, hair awry, morning breath and certain pj's on back to front to stop night time poo-smearing, i prepared myself for that seasonal 'I've just been run over by a steam-roller' feeling and smirked at that old dream. That dream was well flattened by the unexpected foot of reality stomping on my head. I wouldn't have it any other way but still the Maria in my heart was trying to cling on!
Previous years, those dark years after Tilly's diagnosis, tears had taken hold...Mummy crying at Christmas what a terrible admission!
(after the kids were in bed I hasten to add)
One year it was the double sided doll's house that did it! The picture on the box depicting two happily playing girls one each side, it was somebody else's reality. My reality... Poppy screaming at Tilly as she grabbed the roof, shaking all the stuff out, hurling the chimney piece at my head, ripping out the roof swing and general meltdown present throwing mayhem that wouldn't stop. When the day was over and little girls were asleep that picture on the box taunted me and I slipped into 'what ifs', a terrible place to slip when you are parenting a child with special-needs.
Christmas season will still do this to me if i give it an inch. It's a season that loves to shove annually into my face all the things i don't have instead of all the things I do have!
Christmas is childhood magic and dreams come true. It's laughter and a child's delight. SMS is a difficult bedfellow with these visions of joyous perfection. There is no room here for the child unable to stop themselves from destroying the presents they so wanted or unable to understand why the presents can't continue forever!
So this year I tried to prepare myself and Tilly emotionally...my expectations remained high for magic but were mixed with a huge heap of realism and seriously lowered expectations in many areas! Maria was firmly kicked out of the building...she would have to sing by herself for a while on the mountains...I was too busy preempting the unforeseeable and surviving the day! Christmas day with SMS is no place for a wannabe-nun!
Stockings were opened and cheers poured out at the gigantic chocolate coins that Santa always brings. Immediate chocolate eating began, toys from Santa were cuddled and excitement reigned. This was good! This was being soaked up, this memory was banked!
THE HILLS ARE ALIVE.........
Portable DVD players from Nanny caused gasps and 'a purple teddy-bear, that's middle-sized and looks like a Mummy' fulfilled specifics from Poppy's list!
I even got away with Tilly not noticing she was missing the only 3 things she had requested in her letter to Santa...a real pig and cow and an axe! Don't ask!!!
I could feel that moment of bankable joy slipping down an SMS slippery slope! Goodbye sanity and Christmas cheer!
As Poppy and Busby continued opening presents from their still huge piles Daddy and Mummy sacrificed their own presents to way-lay Tilly's forlornness at her own openings finish. Still we were a few hundred presents short! And then Mummy presented her superhero-parent solution for just such a moment...a hundred little presents all wrapped...Busby's bag of second hand dinosaurs...each wrapped individually...for Tilly...predicting this very scenario! It worked!
And then it was Poppy's moment to open her dream present that she had nagged me for all year...a writing bureau! A 4 year old DESPERATE for a writing bureau...love her!
And so amongst Poppy forgetting to open any more presents after her first sparkly notebook and pen and Daddy trying to rain down tidy upon chaos and Tilly opening Busby's presents and Busby totally unaware that more lay in store for him beyond his first present... all was great...tinged with panic sweat stains and littered with eggshells beneath our feet...but we were holding on!
And so we said goodbye to Poppy (possibly forever) as her bureau was transferred to her room.
We began to run the harder road of cooking Christmas dinner with Tilly wanting cheese and chocolate constantly whilst Busby remained lost in little doggy toy cuddling and tiny car pulling heaven.
This year had become a crazy mixture of distraction tricks and joy, frustration, panic and magic. So OK it's now nearly February and Tilly is still wanting crackers at every meal and presents to open every day! Some days the ongoing Christmas challenge wears thin as Christmas keeps throwing daily demons my way to chase me over the hills...
...but overall I think we are a pretty awesome team and Christmas was all we could hope for as long as dreams are always mixed in with humour and an expectation of that stomping foot of reality...I mean even Santa was having Elf and Safety Issues this year...life is never plain sailing!