Winter Solstice in Darkest Wales
Mole’s questions of late are getting more weird and wonderful…
“What are stars made of?” cue a quick youtube video courtesy of Brian Cox.
“What is water made of?” That’s easy, hydrogen and oxygen.
“Why is the sea salty?” Ummmmmmm.
“What are our bodies made of?” Ummm, carbon and water?.
This prompted a conversation about how essentially all matter comes from stars, so the atoms in our bodies once existed inside an ancient tree fern or a dinosaur, and ultimately from inside a star.
This was blowing Mole’s mind.
I can’t understand Hedgehog half the time. She does continuous rambles on the walk home from school which sound like a mad montage of her day. They both compete for my attention at this time, both talking at once, both completely urgent. This results in increasingly frustrated shouts in one ear of “Mummy, MUMMY!”.
Otter is not saying anything much yet, apart from “Ma ma ma”, "Aya aya aya" and blowing huge rasberries, which Mole and Hedgehog find very amusing.
This time last year, I was hunkering down for the holidays, having a very simplified Christmas and waiting for Otter to make an appearance. The birthing pool dominated our living room for a month, deflating every so often, being re-pumped by Mr M&H, while Mole and Hedgehog used it to bounce on. The birthing pool did eventually get used for its intended purpose on New Years Eve.
So I spent Christmas itself in a strange sort of limbo land, wondering around the house like a whale and afraid to go out in case I went into labour in a field or while driving. I remember the Santa stockings for Mole and Hedgehog, the huge excitement opening them on Christmas morning, and getting to the church for the Christmas Eve carol service. I remember that Mole, Hedgehog and I were indoors a lot, doing quite a lot of baking, painting and dancing, and that Mr M&H didn’t book any annual leave because he was expecting to be on paternity leave, which of course he didn’t get until January. I remember listening to my hypnobirthing tracks a lot, and going slowly cross-eyed about it all.
This year I am slim again, light and bouncy and free. I can drink alcohol, go on long walks without getting tired, lie on my front in bed, and not need the toilet every five minutes. Being pregnant is wonderful, and not being pregnant is also wonderful.
So this year we are free to go away for Christmas, and are decamping to darkest Wales to stay with Granny Purple Hair. This is the first time we’ve spent Christmas with Granny since she moved to Wales four years ago, so a Welsh Christmas is quite exciting. It means walks on beaches, plenty of wine, a different set of toys for Mole and Hedgehog, and cooking meals on the Aga.
After the recent depressing outcome of the December elections, where it seems we are to be ruled by the blonde moronic boffin until further notice, I suggested to Mr M&H that we perhaps emigrate to New Zealand. Until then, Wales will have to do.
Until then, we’ve got the final few weeks of term, and the advent countdown. This is probably my favourite bit of Christmas, all the anticipation. Mole and Hedgehog can hardly contain themselves. The school PTA are going crazy with events. We have the Christmas grotto happening, the nativity play, non-uniform day, the pantomime, and a visit from the big man himself. Then there is all the card swapping and presents for the teachers. Last year I made chocolate truffles, this year it’s chutney. The teachers are going to sample my home-made wares whether they like it or not.
For me the excitement is in finding an excuse to drink mulled wine every night, going to a carol service at church, doing lots of baking, making the house all pretty with decorations, and doing all the cards and presents.
This year I've tried to go minimal with the consuming, use brown recyclable wrapping paper, and take part in the reverse advent calendar donating to our local food bank. I've also made the move to go pescatarian and organic, after spending an afternoon watching youtube videos of battery raised farm animals and standard abbatoir practices, and managing to traumatize myself. Mr M&H came home one day to my declaration of this, with our new diet inscribed on the fridge. So we have now replaced our meat with quorn, get sustainably sourced fish, and organic local dairy. Our eggs come from our own chickens already, and we grow a fair bit of veg in the summer on our allotment. At first Mole and Hedgehog said they didn't like the quorn, so now we just tell them it's meat and they don't know the difference. So little by little, we're putting our money where our ethics are and going in the direction we want to... even if our government isn't.
In the same sort of vein I've began to make bread this month, with Mole enthusiastically helping me and eating the dough. It's easy, therapeutic and much more tasty that shop bread, so I'll keep doing it. I do about four loaves in a batch which does us for the week, plus some pain aux chocolate for after school snacks.
After the festivities it is of course Otter's birthday, or New Year's Eve to everyone else. So she'll be getting some free fireworks, along with her cake and presents. I suspect that Mole and Hedgehog will ‘adopt’ most of the presents, until such time as Otter is big enough to grab them back.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to drink some more mulled wine.
Merry Christmas and see you in the next decade.