Christmas Cheer: 2013 365 Challenge #354

Xmas Jammies

Xmas Jammies

Today’s post is for anyone struggling to find their Christmas cheer, at the end of what has been a very long year (around here at least).

We had some bad news regarding the car saga yesterday so, on top of germs and Christmas Chaos, we’re a bit low. Then I gave my daughter her Christmas Stocking this morning, that I lovingly sewed her name onto and she said, “Yes Mummy, I saw the picture on the iPad. It’s a bit big.”

Let me weep.

With children and parents alike exhausted and a teeny bit jaded from all the festivities, it’s not an easy time to find a sense if humour.

If Boxing Day can’t come soon enough and you’re already tired of mince pies and tinsel, or if – like me – you wonder why you’re doing it all for your oh so ungrateful children, this is the best of the holiday humour I’ve come across this week (and shared on my Facebook page!)

  • First up has to be the viral Xmas Jammies video. This is brilliant. A tongue in cheek (and wonderfully written/sung) Christmas card. I dare you not to be smiling by the end of it (unless you have to turn off Made In Chelsea because wife is playing it on her ipad. Sorry hubbie.)
  • Although my children are past this age, I had to giggle at The Ten-Month Old’s letter to Santa. Highlights include the laptop chord, house keys and dog food. Ah, at least those days are gone. There is something to be grateful for.
  • This Christmas Letter from Honest Toddler Mum gives a real version of what goes on at this time of year, rather than the sanitised social media / Pinterest one. For anyone who gets the cheery round-robin letter from a random friend they don’t otherwise hear from one year to the next, this one’s for you.
  • Miss Fanny Price shared this great letter to a head teacher from Rosie White, about how there won’t be any homework done this holiday season. Amen.
  • Also, I have to say I’m loving the new coke ad (much as I hate to add to their viral campaign!) For anyone with preschoolers in the house, this one is for you. How do we ever have more than one? 😉

And on a more sincere Christmas spirit note, there is the story of the bear called Roar reunited with his owner, after being left on a UK train, as a result of a Twitter and Facebook campaign. Heartwarming.

Let’s hope we can all find some Christmas cheer between now and 3.30pm when the schools break up for the holidays, otherwise it’s going to be a really long two weeks! Merry Christmas.


Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:


Claire stopped at the white door, reeling from the sound of screaming and thumping feet. She hesitated, wondering if this was a good idea. But Maggie was waiting for her, she couldn’t chicken out now. Besides, the children weren’t in her care. If they drove her crazy she could always leave and find a hotel.

Peering through the open doorway, shielded from the sun by overhanging ivy, Claire tried to locate reception. A sea of brown poured past, as what seemed like hundreds of girls in uniform headed outside. She held out a hand to stop the least frightening-looking children, walking hand in hand towards the door.

“Hello, is Maggie around anywhere?”

The girls looked suspiciously at her, shrugged and giggled, before running on to join their friends. Claire tried to think what Maggie’s surname was but couldn’t bring it to mind.


As the next group of girls came by she said, “Can you tell me where I can find Brown Owl?”

The girls conferred, then pointed inside. “Out the back,” one said, before they all scarpered like a herd of startled hill ponies.

The information didn’t help much but, feeling as if she had been given permission to enter the building, Claire headed in the general direction of the pointed finger.

As the last of the children streamed past, the place fell silent. Claire wondered where they were all going: they didn’t seem old enough to be unaccompanied. Eventually she found a conservatory at the back of the dining room, and saw Maggie with a group of adults, all leaning over a table consulting what looked to be a map.

She stood for a moment, unwilling to intrude. Maggie must have sensed her presence, because she looked round.

“Claire! How wonderful. Come and meet everyone. Sally, Bea, Helen, Jo, this is my friend Claire, who I told you about. She’s going to stay with us for a day or two.” Maggie beamed at them all. She turned back to the table, and said, “Can you finish up here? The girls will be fine for a few minutes. I’d like to show Claire to her room.”

Without waiting for a response, she took Claire’s arm to lead her out. “The children are doing a wide game that we set up before lunch. They’ll be out in the grounds for a while under the watchful eye of some parents, who will hopefully make sure no one falls in the river this year. Have you had a chance to look around? It’s a beautiful place.”

While she spoke, Maggie led Claire through the building and up the stairs. She took Claire into a small dorm and said, “I hope you don’t mind sharing with the staff? None of them snore, thankfully. I went hiking once with a leader who could have woken the rocks. It was a challenge to get to bed before she did, to have any hope of sleeping.”

Claire smiled at Maggie’s chatter. She seemed much happier than when they’d last met. Or maybe not happier, maybe just more together.

Perhaps being Brown Owl makes you put on a persona of calm.

Although, as she thought back to the last two times they had met, Maggie had always been calm. But there had been an air of melancholy that seemed absent now.

“How are you?” she asked, when Maggie drew breath. “You seem in good spirits.”

Maggie sat on a bunk and patted next. “Come sit with me. I was so glad to see that you were in this part of the world.”

Intrigued, Claire sat down and waited. Maggie leant forwards, resting her arms along her knees. The Brown Owl uniform made her look younger, although her hair was still steel-grey. When she looked up she was smiling, the dimples flashing in her cheeks.

“I haven’t been entirely honest about my reason for wanting to catch up. I have a proposition for you, but I wasn’t sure how to broach it. I was hoping to let you settle in for a while first, but I might lose my nerve.”

Claire found it hard to breathe. Her first thought was that one more person wanted something from her, and she didn’t want to know. Especially not from someone she had no ties to.

As if sensing her reluctance, the dimples vanished from Maggie’s cheeks and her eyes lost their sparkle. “I was right, I shouldn’t ask it of you. Forget I mentioned it.”

Chastened, Claire said immediately, “Don’t be silly. Tell me.”

“Well, it’s just a friend of mine is opening a new activity centre for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, based in Cornwall. They need help with the marketing and advertising side of things, but can’t afford to hire anyone. They’re also looking for activity staff, who will be paid, although not much. Reading on your blog about your surfing, and all the fun stuff you’ve done, and knowing you used to work at an advertising agency. Well, I wondered…” She trailed off and the room fell silent.

Claire’s mind reeled with the new information. Another job offer. They did come from the most unlikely places. Marketing and working with children? Two things she wasn’t sure she wanted in her future.

But how many options do I have? And it would mean being able to stay in Cornwall.

She found a glimmer of interest sparkling deep in her heart. She would have to know more about it, of course, and more about this friend of Maggie’s. There was something in the word friend that raised questions.

Claire sat up straight and looked at Maggie with a smile. “Why don’t we go make a cuppa and discuss it?”

Maggie’s look of relief made Claire giggle, and the two women walked arm in arm from the room.


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