I LOVE Christmas.
And when I say I love Christmas, I mean I really LOVE Christmas (In my head when I read this back I hear the voice of Tom Hanks saying it out loud - Probably means I've watched You’ve Got Mail too many times).
I love everything about Christmas. The build up, the family traditions we have, the soppy movies, the decorations and most of all the quality time spent with loved ones, family and friends.
Our last trip of 2019 to Florida, kind of kicked the Christmas season off for us with the decorations all going up in the parks. Once we had recovered from the journey home we were fully into it. It was crazy at times as we had so much that we wanted to fit in. Some of the highlights for me was Christmas Eve evening spent at home with the boys and Ellie, the three carol concerts I attended, the magical lights at Kew Gardens and off course the big day(s) themselves. Although quieter this year as quite rightly Barry & Ellie had to split their time between Gorleston-on-Sea & Norwich and also the Napier’s had little ones to take into consideration, it was still a lovely time. As ever we all received some lovely incredibly thoughtful gifts.
One of my memories of this year will also be sitting in the Conservatory with Karen, drinking some fizz with the Christmas Lights on watching the dark version of A Christmas Carol whilst Neil watched the darts in the lounge. I’m not sure why that hour was special but it was.
Our meals were all really good and much merriment was had at the games on the days and at our gatherings afterwards.
One thing that means a lot to me is the tradition of us as a family visiting the crematorium together on Christmas Eve to remember and pay our respects. This time it was not possible for Barry to join Neil & I on the day , but instead he made effort to go along with Karen on the 22nd. Sometimes it's doing the the little things that really matter to us all.
One thing that never changes is that Karen goes into hyper mode in the days before Christmas. Instead of a Spring Clean we get the big pre Christmas clean. The whole house gets the full treatment daily. Everywhere seems to get vacuumed several times a day. Stress levels hit Extreme. I wish there was a way to change this as it is not good for any of us .
In between all this there were a number of games at Carrow Road to attend, along with the darts at the Ally Pally.
Then there was New Year. The party at Carrow Road was disappointing this time and I’m not sure we will bother again.
The start of 2020 and a new decade (or is it?). I am surprised that there weren’t more 20/20 vision jokes but perhaps I just missed them. It is a time to make resolutions and perhaps start something new. For me in the turning of the year in 2016 it was symbolic as it marked the start of trying to lose some weight. It was hard at times and took real will power. Even Karen was not convinced I could or would do it. Now in 2020 I still don’t eat any cake or dessert or sweets & Chocolate (unless they are sugar free). However some pounds have crept back despite continuing trying to make an effort at the gym. I do find it harder when travelling and not eating properly, along with not being able to go to the gym. When I am home it means I spend a lot of time just trying to gradually build up again my core strength/flexibillty and stamina. I have found to my cost that if I go back in the gym with the same intensity after missing for a couple of weeks or more causes my back some real issues. So now each time I have to try and ease myself back.
Anyhow I need to lose the extra pounds somehow and so that is my aim and I will try and do this by cutting back on the carbs which are a problem for me.
The night before we left for the first trip of the year we took Barry, Ellie & Neil to the Sugar Beat for a meal, to make arrangements whilst for when we are away and plans for when we get back (the delicious chips did not help my carb intake). Whilst we were eating I tried to suggest what I thought everyone else’s resolutions could be. Writing that sounds patronising and belittling. I hope that is not how it came across as it was not meant in that way. It did provoke some funny discussions. I cannot emphasis how much I enjoy spending time with the five of us. It would not be fair to mention here some of the things we talked about, but if I had one wish for us all is that we learn to be even more open with each other and (even if Neil would hate it) more tactile.
I still find parenting difficult at times and just hope that overall I get things more right than wrong.
So onto the trip. A year ago I was panicking about travelling to South America with possible Cellulitus in my right leg. Underneath that real worry was another one relating to the trip being perhaps too adventurous for us (or just me). This time we were going back to places we knew were safe and had visited before. Indeed we had loved New Zealand so much that we were determined to go back again. So why was I not excited? Why instead of counting the days down with anticipation was I actual actual counting down with fear and dread? This should be another holiday of a lifetime but in advance I probably would have taken any excuse not to go. There is an underlying anxiety that I cannot currently explain or rationalise. Understandably Karen gets annoyed with me which then makes me feel even worse.
How come I am most excited about a potential 5 day trip with the boys and Ellie than any other trip already booked this year. Our favourite trip last year was when we were all together. Why am I looking forward to being home for the three weeks before we go away again in February to Lanzarote? Everything is mixed up. When at home I love being busy. I know that Karen is not happy if she didn’t feel I was actively doing something particularly if she has taken some work on. Thats one of the reason I hardly ever read whilst at home. It’s also one of the many excuses I use not to work on the ‘book’.
None of this explains why I feel this way about this trip. Despite what Karen thinks its not that being alone with her is the problem, in fact that is a real bonus. It is true that I miss the boys terribly but they are just happy that we are doing all that we are.
I think it might just be there are too many trips. I do know that the prospect of 28 days away this time is a factor for me. We both agree that 3 weeks away is now a maximum for us as by then we are both ready to go home. But a trip down under really necessitates a longer trip to justify the amount of time and effort just getting there. It is though a long time to be away. Karen planned all of our trips this year on a spreadsheet more than 12 months in advance and I was happy with it. I love all the planning and scheduling, just at the moment not the actual delivery so much.
So what is the answer. The truth is I don’t know. There are so many places we still want to go but maybe we need to get the scheduling better. This trip came so quickly after Christmas (and it was me that wanted to depart on the 4th rather than the 5th as Karen suggested). Perhaps later in January would have been better when Christmas is a distant memory and its cold and icy and I am starting to get fed up. I do think we need to lose or reschedule at least one of the trips already booked for 2020 but working out how/what will not be easy. Probably Karen is right that two trips to Florida this year maybe too much as well. Anyhow watch this space as I’m sure it will a topic of daily discussion on this trip. We have the beginnings of an outline plan for 2021 and so need to take all this into consideration.
So that’s the Pre travel day blogged. It seems more like a confessional but I never wanted the blog to be just something just along the lines of ‘Went to Hemsby and walked on the beach’ type of thing. Similar to last year I had the 2019 Blogs made into a book for Karen. This time a hardback. Its not cheap but ironically it is cheaper to get printed in the USA and delivered rather than using anywhere in the UK.
What is telling though is that Karen doesn’t always get round to reading the blog on a daily basis and this time she was dismissive of the book saying the present was not for her but for me. It genuinely wasn’t. Perhaps it was for both of us. Tellingly after she has looked at the photgraphs from trips over the years once she never looks at them again. I think we should have a real record of our trips and adventures. In years to come it will be something to look back upon fondly. We are so lucky and it would be difficult to recall everything. My final message is therefore to Karen in 2030 when hopefully she will read this again, I told you this was a good thing to do and it also amused some other people at the time. Just a pity that it didn’t have a proper editor.