It’s December, so that can only mean one thing…! The count down to Christmas. Advent Sunday saw us making our way to church for their Christingle service – last year it was held on Christmas Eve and was very, very busy so I think it was a wise move of our Rev to move the service to advent Sunday. The night before I decorated our oranges with red ribbon, a candle and four cocktail sticks of fruit so we were ready for the service. The whole Christingle service is based around children with lots of singing and explaining what the Christingle symbolises. Meadow is still a bit small but really enjoys the colouring corner and made a lovely picture of Mary – a vision in blue crayon squiggle. I promised myself when Meadow was Christened we would go to Christingle every year as I did as a child until she is old enough to sit through other services.

My brother came to visit and we took him shopping to Bluewater in Kent. They had their winter wonderland area open so we decided to take meadow to see Santa, as the queue was really small… when we went to the box office to buy our ticket he was having his lunch! ‘Come back at 2pm’. I wondered how many families would be doing that! When we got back just before 2pm a lady elf and a toy solider were stood guarding Santa’s grotto and a queue was snaking around the top floor of the winter wonderland. It wasn’t too painful a wait at all really and meadow happily chomped her way through a box of raisins. The elf had a little chat with meadow but she wasn’t interested, she wanted to get through that curtain and into the grotto. Once inside a lovely tree with two more elves sat Santa, meadow looked at us bemused. Her dad and I sat with her and Santa whilst my brother stood giggling with the elves that tried to get a photo. I edged Meadow close to Santas knee and told her to tell him ‘ho ho ho’ – she went mad! The elves quickly got a photo and Santa produced a parcel. By this point she was smiling and toddled off outside. In the line to see our picture, I was dreading a picture of a grumpy girl on Santa’s knee – but instead, she simply looks puzzled and we both look overly happy trying to spread some festive cheer.

This time last year, Meadow was 7 months old and we took her to Lakeside Santa’s grotto twice, she absolutely loved it she even clapped at the 3D film in the waiting area! So, undeterred we set off one Saturday evening to lakeside to see Santa again, she loved it last year, so we thought this year will be better. Oh she loved the pretty snow covered trees and giant reindeer decorations – she liked the 3D glasses we got given in the queue – she liked the 3D film and tried to grab the flying sweets and ornaments from the film. Then came the main event, Santa. A small girl of about 6 in front informed me ‘He’s in there!’ very excitedly and I thought how I couldn’t wait for Meadow to be like that. Once inside Santa made us sit in very strict positions in order to get the perfect photo, which we found really funny. I asked Meadow again – ‘what does Santa say?’ and she exclaimed ‘No!’, I asked her to tell him what she’d like for Christmas, “No!”,  she said again as he went to shake her hand so I told him she’d like a Barney the dinosaur, trying to rectify the situation. But anyway, as he gave her a small book shaped parcel; she smiled shook his hand and nodded. Result! She still looks terrified in the picture though …almost like she was about to jump off her dads lap any second. Maybe next year will recreate last year’s picture with a lovely smile for Santa but judging from some of the other kids we have witnessed meeting Santa this year, maybe not …