A Very Different Christmas

I would normally be posting a lovely picture of the valley between Villers and Magny here covered in sparkling white frost, but in our reno mess we can’t find the cord to download the photos from our camera. Such is life around here at the moment…

We managed to get moved back in here at La Maison des Chaumes instead of taking a pit stop at La Maison des Deux Clochers as we thought we might have to. This was due to a superhuman painting effort on behalf of Franck, who is now beyond the point of exhaustion and has justly requested 48 hours of no nagging and no chores in order to recuperate.

This would be just fine, but Christmas is TOMORROW and we are still very much camping here. I managed to get the tree up and decorated with the girls yesterday, and had many other ambitious plans for whipping the house into tip-top shape in time for C-day: completely organising and cleaning the girls’ bedroom to make room for new toys, mopping the entire house for a fourth time as an hour after we mop a new layer of plaster dust inevitably settles again, cleaning new french doors so we can actually see out of them, and maybe even whipping up a batch of shortbread if I could locate a cookie sheet in the basement…hold on, who was I kidding? Needless to say besides the tree none of these things got done.

For one thing, Charlotte has managed to catch the stomach flu for a SECOND time in two weeks and I have to pause frequently in my activities to clean up vomit, administer medication, etc.. Secondly, when at last yesterday afternoon I gathered my courage around me and threw myself gung-ho into picking through dusty toy-boxes in the bomb site that is the girls’ bedroom I was stopped short within a matter if minutes by increasingly sharp pains in my pelvis. Oh yeah, I realized, maybe stooping and standing up repeatedly isn’t the best activity to do when one is eight months pregnant. Hmmmmmm.

So am bravely trying not to notice dusty, completely disorganised house and concentrate on our tree, which looks very nice if I ignore the pine needles all over the floor and lack of presents underneath. I still have all my wrapping to do (Ho, Ho, Ho – I am the guy in red in this household) which I was all geared up to do this morning while Franck took the girls to a movie in Beaune.

However, this plan was derailed when Charlotte vomited up her breakfast just as they were about to get into the car – thank heaven for small mercies, she actually made it to the toilet – I can’t imagine the carnage if they had gone a few minutes earlier and they had been driving along the Nationale. So now they’re in the kitchen playing Monopoly, and I’m trying to figure out how I am possibly going to get their presents wrapped by tonight without them noticing and without me keeling over from fatigue.

To be frank I am feeling like a very sub-standard mother / home-maker at the moment. I’m trying to learn not to be too hard on myself, however, so remind myself that I’m doing the best I can considering;

1. We have completely renovated our house over the past five weeks, and only moved back in two days ago.
2. We are consequently all exhausted.
3. Because of ongoing stomach problems I am still trying to get through the day on a diet that consists basically of pasta and rice, which let me tell you has an impact on the old morale as much as energy-level.
4. The stomach flu seems to have adopted our family.
5. I am eight months pregnant.

I am really trying to just accept this Christmas for what it is and to remember all that there is to be thankful for, such as;

1. Martha Stewart may have perfect mince pies, but I will soon have a third child who despite my rice diet is, according to the obstetrician, doing just fine.
2. I have two wonderful and beautiful daughters who are becoming increasingly skilled at making it to the toilet to throw up.
3. I have a husband who has an almost superhuman capacity for physical labour and who on his well-deserved 48 hours recuperation is choosing to spend it by playing Monopoly with his daughters in the kitchen.
4. I have a family back in Canada who I know I can always depend on through thick and thin.
5. My stomach problems, while still very annoying, were not life-threatening as I had fretted.
6. We have managed to put up a tree and decorate it and in about a month (fingers crossed, as that is when glow-worm is due to arrive) or so we will be settled into our newly renovated house which will is brighter, cosier, and far more functional than its previous incarnation.
7. My sister-in-law has taken it upon herself to do the entire meal for Christmas day tomorrow, so all I have to do is cook my rice and put my feet (and very unwieldy stomach) under the table. 8. I have good friends who have understood my need to opt out of a social life for the last month or so and who I know will welcome me back whenever I am ready.
9. I have, amazingly (knock on wood) not caught the stomach flu yet.

Every Christmas is different, but the one lesson I want to retain from this one is to not let frustration at unrealized Christmas expectations blind me to what is really important – family, friends, and giving thanks for what we have instead of longing for what we don’t.

Joyeux Noel!