For the first time in years I am gutted that Christmas is over. Celebrating with a two year old has brought back the magic of my own childhood Christmases. To cheer myself up I have been insisting that we all eat elaborate breakfasts every morning, mainly consisting of Christmas pudding, chocolate truffles and smoked salmon. Tom and Betty are being very patient.
Although Betty is still perhaps too young to fully appreciate and understand the magic, there were still many things that made this Christmas unique and special. She got excited and squealed ‘DADDY!’ every time we drove past the huge blow-up Santa outside the local garden centre. Whenever anyone phoned, instead of saying ‘Merry Christmas’, she would shout ‘Christmas tree’ at the telephone. She perfected ‘Away in a Manger’ and heartily sang it as she ate her chocolate from the advent calendar (which is sorely missed - we have since had a few chocolate-related tantrums, where through her tears she calls for the aid of her uncle, who is currently her favourite person ever).
When we took Betty to see Santa, she coyly flirted with the 15 year old spotty teenager dressed up as an elf who handed her a jelly baby and balloon and then ushered her into Santa’s grotto. In the grotto, whilst Santa said: ‘Hello my friend, are you hoping to receive lots of lovely crayons for Christmas?’ in a fake deep and husky voice, Betty just sighed and kept a safe distance, only moving in closer to humour him and take her present. She then did a quick about-turn before going off in pursuit of the elf.
Christmas day itself was lovely - at least, once all the toys I had lovingly bought and made for my darling daughter had been removed from sight. Betty was immediately put off her stocking when she spotted the head of the soft toy I had made for her sticking out of the top. She was also a little confused when it transpired that there had been a complete breakdown in communication between family members over presents, and she received three wooden toy ovens… one from me, one from her granddad, and one from her uncle. I had also bought Betty a very expensive life-sized crying/giggling/wetting/eating/ sleeping baby doll, which Tom told me that under no circumstances was I allowed to give to her. It automatically cried whenever there was a noise, and could only be silenced if someone sang to it. Tom was worried that Betty would have to get up in the middle of the night to get the ‘monstrous thing’ back to sleep. I ignored Tom’s pleas to give the doll to the child of someone we didn’t like very much, and on Christmas morning I left it sitting in the mini-pushchair belonging to her existing doll, Cupcake. Betty calmly but promptly removed the imposter and placed Cupcake back in her rightful place. Tom and Betty did a high-five while I sang to the doll to stop her crying (all good practice for a few months down the line).
Perhaps the high point for me was the Christmas pudding. For years I have been the only person in my whole family to actually enjoy the bloody things, so I was delighted when Betty helped me polish off a pudding meant for four people. That girl makes me so proud.