Counting down to Christmas

It's the first weekend in December and already the Christmas excitement is running high in our house. It started with advent calendars. I became suspicious when Galen said he wanted to go to the supermarket with me. And then I remembered that last time I dragged him around he'd seen the chocolate calendars and I'd not bought him one. So we went again, foolishly before the beginning of December. "Can we open the calendars now, can we open the calendars now, can we open the calendars now?" After several days of explaining that you can't open them until Sunday, I relented and said that if they tidied up all the toys that were all over the living room floor they could take the plastic wrappers off. There were squeals of delight and jumping up and down in excitement. They slowly picked a little edge free, then ripped off the rest, savouring every moment. Oh to be a 3 year old! We hung them up on the wall.

This year, to Galen's frustration, the rules have changed. No more chocolate straight after breakfast, leaving mummy and daddy no leverage for the rest of the day. This year, advent calendars are to be an after dinner event. That is after you've sat nicely through dinner and eaten it up with out any cries of "yuck!" or "I'm not going to eat this" or shoving your plate away, or jumping up and down on your chair, or hanging your arms over the back of your chair like a truculent teenager. In short, after you've behaved nicely at the dinner table.

On Sunday we also made our 'tio'. The 'tio de Nadal' is a catalan tradition. He's a piece of fire wood who has a face painted on one end and is given a hat and a blanket. (I think the accessories are a recent addition, previously it was just a log.) Every day the children feed him scraps of food waste such as orange peel. Until Christmas Eve when they hit him with a stick and sing a song which translates as "poo your presents tio". And then miraculously the tio poos presents which appear from under the blanket. I know, it is a slightly bizarre tradition, but the kids love it. Galen gave him orange peel, pistachio shells, paper and dried pasta. And ran in this morning very excited telling me that the tio had eaten it all. It must be magic!

And of course, we decorated the Christmas tree. A tree of two halves, glass and fragile decorations at the top and plastic baubles at the bottom, which the babies had great fun pulling off. So we put them back on again, and the babies pulled them off again. So we put them back on again, and the babies pulled them off again. After doing this a few times, I decided to move the tree to half way up the stairs where the babies can't get to it.

And so the count down to Christmas begins. Poor old Dante, he must have asked about a hundred times yesterday when it would be Christmas. I think it's going to be a long month for him!

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