The one thing that I love about the long, dark evenings of winter, might seem strange to some.
“You’re doing it again aren’t you?” Himself will say to me in the car as we drive along, if I’ve gone quiet beside him.
I’ve been doing it since I was a little girl, sitting behind Mum and Dad in our seatbelt-free VW Golf, as we drove through the winding Donegal roads at night.
Maybe it’s the writer in me, but I love looking through the windows of people’s homes.
I don’t mean that I walk around playing “Peeping Tomette”.
NO, of course not.
But when you’re sitting in the passenger seat of a car and it’s dark or getting dark, and people have yet to close their curtains, it’s amazing the little glimpses you can get into the worlds of strangers.
And for a split second, I see a tableaux; a freezeframe – a photograph if you like, of the home and sometimes the people in it.
I imagine who they are; what they’re saying and what it’s like to be there, among them. Who has just walked into the room to make the child jump up like that? Where is he going? What are they talking about? My imagination creates full scenarios for the “characters” of these snapshots.
Christmas is my favourite time to do this, and with Christmas trees in windows, it’s the perfect time to catch beautiful moments.
These are where the real Christmas-Card-worthy moments happen; A Granny laughing by the fireplace. An uncle arriving home. Windows being cleaned. A dog being scolded for jumping on a sofa. A child being lifted up high.
Snapshots, if you will.
Obviously, on Christmas Day, I don’t do this… because I’m not in the car much.
And so, I thought I’d get glimpses into the homes of others in a different way. I asked some of the top Parenting writers in the country what I would see if I happened to look through their windows over Christmas?
Each of them has kindly sent me a description of their very own perfect freezeframe; what they hope you’d see and what they hope to be doing while the world drives by on Tuesday.
Sandra from – Prosecco Powered Mum
A snapshot into my Christmas day is a ridiculously early start, and pure carnage from the off…by 7am the stove is lighting and we are surrounded by discarded wrapping paper (yes, Santa wraps here, he has even been known to wrap the door!) We have had visitors in our house as early as 7:30 and that’s the start of what our day looks like – grand central station springs to mind. The husbag cooks a big dirty fry and while we’re cleaning up after breakfast we are also preparing for dinner (Christmas = food yes?) We have 9 for dinner this year, (has been up to 15) and it’s a combined effort. After stuffing ourselves stupid, we have copious amounts of alcohol and play games, the favourites have been pie-face, headbands, and speak-out! Generally if you look through my window on Christmas day you’ll see a manic but very happy family enjoying mum’s favourite day of the year
Ross from – The Stented Papa
“If you were to take a peek through my window on Christmas morning, you’d see a busy, excited household.
The funny thing is it depends on what time you’d be taking a peek! We’ve actually had to wake Nip #1 up for the last two Christmas mornings!! Even knowing Santa was coming, she was happy to sleep in! But I’ve a feeling this year will be a bit different.
So once everyone is awake, it’s a busy & excited place. Wrapping paper everywhere, the nips playing with their new toys, showing & telling us all about them. Christmas tunes in the background, dressing gowns on, fresh coffee brewing.
Then we get dressed & head over to Granny’s house for a big breakfast & more presents. Then around 1pm we head for Great Grandad Shay’s house with about 30 family (my in-law’s side) for some fun & yep, you’ve guessed it – more presents!!!
Finally back to ours this year for Christmas dinner with all the usual trimming & the odd glass of vino – sure it is Christmas ya know!! Cheers to the perfect day!”
Kellie from – My Little Babóg
“I would love to say all happy and merry but in reality you will probably see absolute carnage. One parent night be swigging from a bottle of Jack Daniels by midday. Christmas morning with a 2, 3, 4 and 8 year old is gonna be like any other day except with a skip full of new toys, wrapping paper and boxes upon boxes of selection boxes like the old days. It will be messy but hopefully full of fun and laughter.”
Jolene from – One Yummy Mummy
“Daddy of the house running down the stairs in his PJs to check and see if Santa came; He lets us know with an excited roar up if he has.
Bursts of excitement from my 5 year old running down and crashing thru the living room door to see all the presents. Then you’ll catch a glimpse of few tears as I get caught up in the emotion of it all. Then to the kitchen were you,ll spy a few of my dance moves with a bucks fizz in hand, basting the turkey, with Christmas FM in full swing.”
Jen from – Mama-tude loves Christmas Eve most.
If you were to look through our window on Christmas Eve, you’d see a house fit to burst with excitement. We are very early risers in the hope that tired children will fall asleep more easily on Christmas Eve night – I’m sure one year that plan will actually work!
Having so many younger siblings has kept the magic of Christmas alive for my older children and it’s the older ones who will gather the littles and log online to track Santa’s journey across the world via Norad. It is they who’ll ensure the site is checked again several times during the day just so they keep up with Santa’s progress.
After an outing that morning for a special Christmas Eve hot chocolate and muffin my daughter, in the afternoon, will make cookies with her brothers ahead of Santa’s visit that night. It can be a painstakingly slow process because every child will want to be involved and do their bit! After that it’s Christmas music on while the children open their presents from their Nana and Grandad.
Himself cooks the Christmas meats on Christmas Eve – it’s one less thing to do on Christmas morning and the smell of the turkey and ham cooking just adds to the Christmassy mood! My daughter and I used always go to mass on Christmas Eve and join the choir singing Christmas carols but we’re not going to this year because it put pressure on us time-wise. Instead we’ll all battle the crowds at Christmas morning mass.
There is never as much excitement and anticipation of bath-time as there is on Christmas Eve.
Afterwards the kids are bundled into their new Christmas Eve pjs, we check the Norad Santa tracker one last time and all of us clamber onto the couch together to watch “the snowman and the snowdog”. It seems much more poignant since our beloved 17 year old pooch Rodney died last year.
He’ll no doubt get a mention as will the absence of his sock which no longer hangs beside the children’s.
Then it’s milk, one of Santa’s cookies (for testing purposes) and the setting out of carrots, water, milk and cookies for Santa and his reindeer before the littles head to bed.
The teens go up shortly afterwards as mum and dad need the time to rearrange the sitting room so that Santa can easily lay out the gifts he’ll bring for the children. That organising takes a lot of time and it’s usually well into the small hours before mum and dad finally get to bed – exhausted but also so excited for the next day.
Becky from – Cuddle Fairy
“Christmas morning if you looked through our window you would see all of the Christmas lights on. Three kids happily tearing off wrapping paper and parents assembling toys. We are all in our pajamas with sleepy heads and unwashed faces. It’s straight downstairs when the kids wake up. There’s nothing as magical as Christmas morning.”
Benny from Daddy Poppins
“What would you see if you looked through out window on Christmas morning? In a word, Mayhem. We’ve two hyperactive children at the best of times but the magic of Christmas will send them over the edge. Think Santa’s elves high on sherbet and candy canes (but in child form, obviously). There’ll be wrapping paper everywhere and our little terrors will be flitting from toy to toy, unsure which to settle on for their first proper play. Mammy and Daddy will be trying to coax them into posing for pictures with their new acquisitions but it will all be in vein. Nothing will hold those little magpies attention for long as they dart from one shiny new thing to the next. Mayhem, but the good kind.”
There’s so much to see, if you only look closer…
And as for THIS Donegal Mammy?
Well, the carpet shall be clattered and camouflaged by wrapping paper and toys. Michael Buble will be crooning from the tellybox in the kitchen, with the fake fire on the screen. The Daddy shall be building stuff and Mammy shall be in her Christmas PJs, eating, starting the day with the obligatory Football Special and Terry’s chocolate orange!
The girls will be hyped up on life, excited to the brink by cousins and presents and Grandparents and fun. Mammy and Daddy shall be screenfree, intent on not scolding for the day and stealing kisses every time we pass under mistletoe… And yet, there still shall be tears and jobs to do and maybe the odd tantrum, and probably a few spills and stinky poos, but in the midst of it all, there shall be glitter and sparkle and love.
And even the jobs and poos and fights and tears shall be dealt with with extra smiles and magic; with that special, inexplicable feeling that comes only with Christmas Day.
Whatever is happening in your window frame this Christmas, I do hope it is wonderful and joyful and as stress free as possible. I’d love you to share your snapshot in the comments.
Sending much love and Christmas wishes to all,
The S-Mum xxxxxxx