Four to six weeks ahead of the big day I poured over magazines thinking even tho I work right up to 3pm Christmas Eve, I could still plan an amazing Christmas feast as all the kids would be home except one. Just Ren missing as she was back in Cuba for Christmas. That’s ten adults and eleven little ones eight and under.
Magazine pictures at the ready. I wanted it to be glamorous and special and all pre prepared. A week before the big day I decided it was better to be simple and easy with all the little ones, so ditched all the fancy recipes and table decorations and decided on salads, hot ham on the bone and fresh bread rolls followed by Pav with strawberries and cream and fresh fruit. Real simple and easy. Picked up the ham a couple of days before and asked the girl if I actually had to cook it, as I was feeling very time poor. “Nah, she replied, just cut it cold and tell them to help themselves”. I laughed, but was seriously considering it!
Tara had bought around an old gazebo a couple of months ago and asked me if I could think of a way to reuse rather than landfill it. I laid out the fabric on the lounge floor and mulled over making a tent fly that could be strung up for shade on hot days, or pencil cases, or rain ponchos…when Simone said “…if the fabrics waterproof, what about swimming bags?” Perfect I thought. Plenty of fabric to make eleven bags and I could even reuse the velcro and the cord. I imagined how they would look and was excited at getting started. I found some fun children’s badges that would be perfect for differentiating whose was whose and some came from Nana Maureen’s stash which was a nice addition for the kids too.
It got closer and closer to Christmas and I ended up sewing the last bits on Christmas Eve while Gilbert collected Chee and family from the airport and Damen and family drove in soon after. I only had to throw a towel in each to complete the packs. I had made a little secret mesh bag with a drawstring toggle to hold it closed for special things like money, watches or keys that wouldn’t be seen as it was attached at the corner and slipped into a bigger pocket and each one had a gold coin weight for an extra surprise. You would think I had given them a million dollars. So cute seeing their faces as they found the coin.
Another long skinny pocket was designed to hold goggles or even togs and the whole thing was reversible so if the badge became childish it could be on the inside. The whole thing with the drawstring attached in bottom corners to make them into back packs. I didn’t gift wrap as I hate the waste of paper but pulled them with much fanfare from a big Christmas bag, reading a little note I had written to each child so they had to guess who it was to. Unbelievable that I had months to do these and it was all a mad rush right up to Christmas Eve. Crazy!
The kids seem to love their swimming bags and Aneeka and Piper looked super cute with everything matching.
By Christmas Day with everyone there, it was a rowdy fun filled place. Children were squealing and screaming. Mats laid out with sun umbrellas for shade. I did dress and roast the ham. Threw together a couple of salads that were yum and dozens of bread rolls and we ate outside. Pretty damn easy. Just as it should be. Remainders were thrown on the BBQ with a few sausages and beers that night as well which was yum.
The kids went camping to Awhitu Regional park for a couple of nights and Gilbert and I wandered out for the day with batches of warm scones and thermos flasks of coffee. My tent and ground sleeping days are over I’m afraid and glad to be coming home that night after baked beans on toast.
Damen reading stories to settle the mob before bed.
Little did we know how precious that hug goodbye was going to feel less than a week later as Damen had a cardiac arrest and was resuscitated. Luckily now home and well. How important is making time and the most of each and every opportunity we can snatch. Life can be seriously too short.
Best Wishes for 2017!