December 30, 2013

Christmas 2013: The Highlights!

Ten days since my last post. It's been a very long vacation which cost me about 5,000 pounds and 5 kg. I'm joking of course. It was only 3,000 pounds. While writing this I am still half comatose from the enormous lunch I've had today, and yesterday and every single day before that. Holidays and food are intertwined in a way second only to football and beer (yes, I know my analogy is steaming from the fact that today's entertainment was watching an Arsenal match at the pub), and trying to write anything while in this state is proving to be somewhat difficult. Summarising a holiday is never an easy thing. After all in our family if you finish a holiday with lots of photos it can only mean one thing - it was a lousy holiday. And if you did have a good time, and you don't have photos, you probably ate too much and drank too much and already went through all the Christmas chocolate and now can't move or think. And anyway nobody wants to hear how you are full of love and light and wine.
On the other hand, no one wants to hear how my Christmas did not go as I planned at all this year. I was sick for most of the time and even needed antibiotics, my Christmas baking did not go as planned (at least as far as I'm concerned. Everyone else said it was totally fine, at least that is what their crumbs filled mumbling sounded like ), I haven't slept well in weeks, my posting schedule went down the toilet, and I gained at least 3 kilos.
So I have decided to do a Christmas recap in one go by using everyone around and publish it when no one will read it - right before New Years.
Without further ado - Christmas 2013: The Highlights!
1. Grandparents visit (because they made me write it first). It is so much nicer to have then here when we are all on holiday, there is no pressure to get to school, or get things done on time, or while everyone is stressed and busy. Holidays are the best time to entertain and Christmas with its many activities and added excuse for everything (we absolutely HAVE to eat a second breakfast made entirely out of chocolate and Baileys. It's Christmas) is the best time in the year for it.
2. Christmas dinner. Well, actually no one here put it down as a highlight, but the way I see it - we survived the making and eating of yet another holiday meal, during which we swore at least a dozen times that we will never do that again, yelled about ten times per person, accused each other on ruining the food at least a dozen times, ate too much during preparations, worked for ten hours on food that got eaten in under an hour (and had three days worth of leftovers). How can that not be a highlight? And yes, of course we will do it all again next year. After all it's what we call bonding in this family.
3. Yon's pick - Meeting Santa at the London Zoo. Yon is not a big fan of Santa actually, he finds the whole thing quite intimidating, and he is never willing to talk or smile, but this time was (somewhat) different, because it was in his beloved zoo. I booked the tickets in advanced and prayed for weeks that we'll have good weather. I hate booking in advance, especially in London, exactly because of that - you never know what kind of day you're gonna get, but we ended up with a sunny and cold one, which as it turned out was perfect - the animals were all awake and inside so we saw all of them (except for the always sleeping lion), and though the queue to see Santa was about an hour long, he was really nice, everything was organised really well and the boys loved the gifts they got. We even managed to get a family photo out of it with Yon not looking as if we made him sit next to a serial killer.
4. Ron's pick - his xBox. He asked for one four months ago. He waited ever so patiently for it. He did his best to be on the good list. He worried up until Christmas Eve that he won't get it. He jumped in the air (literally) when he ripped through the wrapping paper. He can't stand being apart from it. He already mastered the FIFA 14 game, and is having long conversation with the Kinect. So it comes as no surprise that his xBox was his choice, but what he really meant was Christmas Day. I really don't think there is anything better than waking up to Christmas Day. I got a Kindle and have already read one book, Hidai got a ticket to a Pearl Jam concert in July, grandparents went for phones and booze, but Yon got the best presents of all - a robofish (who died an early death due to lack of batteries) and a camera and is now spending most his time walking around the house snapping blurry pictures of everyone.

5. Hidai's pick - LegoLand Windsor. As we were sooooo good this year Santa has decided to give us all an extra gift - one night at the LegoLand resort. Actually we decided on that because we want to work our way up to DisneyWorld. We were unsure how Yon would react to the hotel, and Ron to the activities and figured one night at LegoLand when most of it is closed because of winter is the perfect place to start. Despite a few minor glitches at the beginning (apparently it's a big surprise that when you book two rooms under your name you want them to be adjoined. Or at least close.) and the fact that Yon wasn't feeling very well, we powered through (got the rooms) and it turned out to be a wonderful holiday for the family. I was so happy to see Yon running through the castle in the indoor play area, or the outside play area, and I was happy to see Ron willing to try all the activities (he was only slightly crossed about losing to Hidai in the shooting game). We will be back for sure in the summer to see the rest of the resort and activities (and beat Hidai at shooting).
6. Grandparents pick 1 - Boxing Day Shopping. As real Londoners we laughed in their faces about the thought of going out to Oxford St. for a spot of shopping, and declined their generous invitation to drag two boys to do their favourite activity of all - watching other people shop. As it turned out grandparents loved every minute of it, and bought everything they planned to, so next year we are sending them with a list of our own.
7. Grandparents pick 2 - Football at the Pub. We wanted an authentic pub watching experience as we've never done that, but as it turned out we chose the poshest pub around because of a combination of having to have vegetarian food, a family-friendly atmosphere and clean toilets. As my dad summarised it, it cost us the price of a new tablet, and the boys were less keen on the food (the chocolate brownie went down without a problem though), but Arsenal won, the people were happy, and the food was great. Next time we rob a bank, we'll be back for sure.
8. My pick... Well, I loved it all, but my highlight was without a doubt watching the Hobbit movie (the second one of course) in the cinema. And although I spilled half my popcorn when I tried taking a photo with my phone, had a shrieking girl sit behind me and encountered a drunken guy on the bus back, I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of actually not going to the cinema to watch an animated movie. And as for the distractions, which to be honest used to drive me crazy, it's amazing what getting used to watching TV and movies with children gets you accustomed to.
9. Last thing we did just before Christmas was connect our TV (and all other devices) to both Netflix and Hulu. This is the place to admit I love silly American TV shows, and by using some electronic hocus-pocus managed to connect all my devices so that I can watch all my TV shows and the American Netflix channel. We've already watched three movies (which is a personal record for us, but unfortunately were lousy).
10. As I see it, like most things in life, Holidays never go as planned, and so far this one has proven to be the same. Every year we find a different solution for it. Usually it includes some chocolate, lots of arguments and the weirdest sense of humour around, but this year we've decided to add the secret ingredient and added alcohol to the mix, and by now grandparents have already drank the whole Chocolate Baileys we bought them, a few bottles of wine and many many glasses of beer. Next year we are planing ahead and starting to stock up in September.

Happy New Year Everyone! See you on the other side :)

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