Ok, if I’m honest (and let’s face it I always am) this is the bit I really enjoy about Christmas. The formal celebrations are over, the rush, the work, the pressure is all done and now we can just be. We can enjoy time together and days with no major agenda. We can work on our own projects and take time to build lego sets for hobbits and underwater creatures and spaceships. Or not. Or we can just watch a movie.
This Christmas has been an unusual one for me in lots of ways; for one the homestead/farm is taking up a lot more of our time and no matter what, no matter if it’s Christmas, Boxing day or any other day those animals need looking after. For another poor Stephen got really sick on Christmas day which made things even more low key. Making Christmas dinner is usually his thing but this time I did it, with helpful instructions from the pile of poorly on the sofa when it came to cooking the beef (from our neighbour’s farm) and timing the chicken (our own) just right. Once the excitement of the present giving was over it was a necessarily low key day followed by a similarly poorly ridden Boxing Day.
Not that I’m complaining! We always plan for quiet days over Christmas so we didn’t feel like we were missing anything as we piled on the sofas and watched movies and fun christmas shows. Boxing Day dinner was supplied courtesy of Christmas Day Leftovers and after the house had been tided and cleaned post the present mayhem, we managed to settle down and have a peaceful day.
Of course the work of the farm continues, the chickens who are currently camped out in the polytunnel still needed feed and water, eggs need to be collected, pigs need their nosh and buckets of water need to be hauled out to them. Cows need milking, oats need to given and milk needs to be processed and stored. Cheese and butter still need to be made and used; the milking machine still requires cleaning, as do pens and sties and bedrooms. If we are to stay warm we must make a regular trek to the wood pile and bring in wagon loads of wood, to pile up in the burning heat of the furnace that keeps the cold at bay once the sun goes down.
This regular rhythm of chores, though, has finally settled down to a maintenance level. We know what needs to be done and can accomplish it relatively quickly each day, especially if both of us are working together. It is all starting to feel familiar and even the challenges that winter is throwing at us are being woven into the fabric of each day. I know to a lot of people these responsibilities would seem onerous but to us they are just part of our family life. There are times when the evening chores seem like a bridge too far but it takes little time in the fresh air for nature to do her work, I invariably come in refreshed and grateful for quiet time ahead.
And that is what I enjoy the most about the Christmas holidays, the quiet lull of time without a check list of how it must be spent. No where to rush too, no appointments to keep. The anticipation of starting a new semester is still a little way off and the possibility of projects and fun and even some relaxing grown up time is still all ahead of us. Today Huwyl is off at riding camp (where hauling water is ‘amazing’ unlike at home where is sucks big time), Daddy and Neirin are working on a lego extravaganza while I sit here in the oddly peaceful and tidy(ish) house listening to their strange tangential conversations.
This afternoon I’m planning on doing some baking with just one boy at my side, indulging in the pleasure of giving him my undivided attention. I’ll be picking up a tired and horse smelling lad and finding out what other things are ‘amazing’ when at horse camp, looking for the little signs of a growing up boy that seem to be ever present right now. Tomorrow we are dropping the boys off for their first dual sleep over and Stephen and I will be spending an entire 24 hours together, just the two of us. All of these things, these details, are what makes this time so lovely to me, regular and routine somehow seem special and lovely. In the meantime I wonder what Stephen and I will talk about when it is just the two of us…
Ah yes the kids. And the farm. And the kids on the farm. Good stuff.