Everyone always says that Christmas is about the children. I mostly agree with that statement although like to think that I’m actually still a child really so it’s about me too! This year however I went back to the UK in the run up to Christmas and spent time with my niece and nephews. I can now confirm that it is a much more magical time of the year when there are small humans around!
Firstly, for those of you who don’t know, The First Born is autistic and has a chromosome deletion which causes him a variety of difficulties – both physically, emotionally and intellectually, He could be classed as ‘severe’ as he doesn’t understand the world around him so much. He has limited language skills and behavioral difficulties. He also gets reality mixed up with fiction, which to be fair, is a much better way of being some days I think. You should also hear him recite entire programmes/movies of dialect! It’s called ‘echolalia’, which means “repetition of speech by a child learning to talk”. It makes for some very interesting conversations! This also means he is one of the most beautiful children the world has ever seen because his pure innocence and delight in things. Don’t get me wrong, he is a stubborn little shit at times too, but he is a joy to me because he knows if I am around there is gifts and treats galore. Being an Aunt is ace!
One of his obsessions is Christmas. BIG time. It has been for about 3 years now. He loves it. He loves the magic. He loves the happiness. He loves the fun. He loves the gifts! Santa, along with Batman, is his hero.
When I had my leave confirmed, Mum and I set out in planning a day that would include all the fun stuff of Christmas for him, but also his two siblings. Again, they both also think I am the best thing since sliced bread and I am keen to continue this myth!
Our day started at first light as the kids had a sleepover as a treat. I had The Third Born in the cot in my room. He is 2yrs old now and not a fan of the dark. Being the kind Aunt that I am, I slept with the light on so he wouldn’t be scared. This somewhat backfired when at 3am he woke and thought it was morning already. Thankfully Grandma was on hand to settle him and tell me the error of my ways.
I woke up 3hrs later as The Second Born crawled into my bed. Sadly she is chatty from the second her eyes open, so I had to be too. I can’t say it’s a bad thing though. She loves me and I utterly adore her. We had a nice little extra time before the boys woke again.
We went downstairs for breakfast, where we sat and munched our random selections (more treats from Super Aunt!) while watching Christmas movies. Well, THE Christmas movie in The First Born’s mind. The Christmas Chronicles is his favourite. Well worth being subjected to the whole movie for the scene in the jail house. Santa does not rock out to that song compared to First, Second and Third!!
After breakfast, but before bath time, we had to write our Santa letters. I had mocked up a pretty border on Word and printed it out so that the kids could write whatever it was that they felt like. They are still too young and uncoordinated to write a proper list. The outcome was just too precious for words. I also had to write one. Bet you can’t guess which was mine!
Next up, Christmas cards!
Before she retired, Grandma was a very highly acclaimed nursery teacher. She dedicated her life to working with 3-5yr olds and giving them the best start they could ever hope for. This is proven over and over when you see how many of the parents she is still in contact with despite the kids being fully grown now – some even have children of their own and tell stories of being in Mrs. Grandma’s class. Its so heartwarming to see, and makes me so incredibly proud of my Mummy. I think she’s the best and it’s amazing to see how many people agree with me!
Anyway, because of all the years of teaching, she is an absolute wealth of art project knowledge! We used vegetables and fruit to print the outlines of the robins and reindeer, and then we painted or drew in the rest. There were lovely stamps too, so we could make the insides of the cards trouble free!
Who knew there was so much you could do with veg aside from eating it! I would never have thought it would make a great printing object. It does though! It all got a little messy, but again, the results were totally perfect!
Naturally I had to go a bit extra on mine and put on the glitter. It was ok though as mine didn’t have to be scanned and printed to give out to my class mates. I think my coworkers would think I had finally lost the plot totally if I had handed those around!
After we had printed and splodged and written everything we needed to, it was time to de-paint the children and get ready for our next adventure… meeting Santa!
If you live in Surrey, or close to it, there is only one place to go to meet Santa and that’s Chessington Garden Centre. There is literally no doubt in my mind! Not only is it the real Santa, obvs, but his team of elves have made a great grotto for you to adventure through on your way to see him!
It all starts by the head elf making a Christmas wish bauble with you. You have to write your wish on the magic paper, fill it with special sparkle dust, give it a good old shake and then hang it on your tree. They are best made with Mummy, Grandma or Aunty’s help because then all the extra love will make the wish even stronger.
After that is done, you must head on through to the elves workshop so you can see all the clever toy makers who have built such a wonderful grotto.
You then are free to amble your way though a number of different scenes ranging from classics like Wind in the Willows where Owl tells you a story, to the Frozen area where you can have your photo taken next to Anna and Elsa.
What more could you want?!
Oh yes… that’s right… an audience with the big man himself! That comes next after you’ve had a dance and a sing along with the penguins!
When its your time, Santa’s most sensible elf will show you through to his sitting room. He is sat next to his fireplace so he can keep warm, and is surrounded by gifts because even Santa has to wrap presents in the run up to Christmas!
It is magical. Santa knows your names and if you have been good this year or not. He absolutely delights in personally receiving your letters, but still asks what you would like because talking to the believers is his favourite thing. He then patiently takes as many photos with you as you want because it’s important to have memories recorded.
Despite no one rushing you or pushing you out the door, the moment to leave comes too soon. Because Santa wants everyone to have something they want, and without ruining the surprises he has in store for you on Christmas Day, he gives you a magic ticket that will take you through to an elf workshop out the back. With this special ticket, you can pick any toy that the elves have made that day. There is all sorts to pick from – everything including that dreadful pie in your face game, to arts and crafts projects. Although it’s a little sad that you don’t get given a present to open, this is quickly forgotten when facing all the choices there are.
There is a bit of a sad feeling when your Grotto trip is done, but it just means it’s time for the next exciting part of the Aunty Sharon Christmassing Programme….
Now, this may not have been the best idea but due to Peppa Pig, they were desperate to try. I’m an incompetent ex figure skater, as is my sister. Sadly neither of us had our own boots with us. Me due to the weight limit on luggage, and the Sister because she hasn’t skated for years. Not that you would know that. When I get on the ice after a break, I bambi all over the place. She gets on like it was yesterday. Very irritating.
We went to a place that will remain nameless because it was so terrible I don’t want to think about it. It was the worst ice I have ever skated on and that’s coming from someone who learned at Streatham! Not only that but they had left things like rope and cable ties on the ice for you to fall over.
First Born had his skates on faster than you could blink and ambled his way over to the ice. Thankfully I was there and could stop him before any real damage was done. We got him a penguin to lean on and off we went. For all of three meters before he fell over. He was then done and didn’t want to be on the ice any more. I can’t blame him.
Next up was Second Born. She was thrilled with herself for being on the ice… for the first three meters. She then got scared and wanted to come off. Again, I can’t blame her.
Third Born was too young to be allowed a go and he very locally showed his disapproval.
In all this time, Sister had only just got her skates on. She is First Born’s absolute world though so as soon as Mummy was ready to go, he was lining up to give it another bash. We dispensed of the penguin because really he was too tall for it and leaning on it probably made him fall in the first place. I stood behind him and Mummy was in front – for a whole lap of the ice!
It was incredibly hard work. He is a very tall boy, and doesn’t have muscle strength or coordination. He also has juvinille arthritus. As much pain and Mummy and I were in to make this happen for him, he was too no doubt, but it was worth every moment to see his face. He was so happy. That is what it was all about.
After such a big day we decided that cooking wasn’t going to be an option, and what better way to finish the best day out? With best dinner imaginable – chip shop chips!
It was an incredible day, start to finish. The three babies were so tired by the end of the day but so full of excitement for everything that they had done.
I am so lucky to have been able to join in this magic with them.
I wonder what I can do next year to retain my title?!