After nine jam-packed days of splitting our time between seeing both families, James and I agree that this Christmas has been the best ever. What made it so awesome? Not the presents, amazing food, copious amounts of alcohol and partying but…the opportunity for us to share the festive season with each others’ lot AND bring them all together in one place! For some this might sound like a nightmare but at the end of this week, it really was one of the most enjoyable moments of this year.
Let’s start at the beginning of the festivities, when on Friday 20th December it was our work Christmas party, bringing together everyone from The Data Octopus, The Media Octopus and The Business Octopus at the Slug & Lettuce in Sale. All I can say about the night is that it was a lot of fun, ridiculously messy with many cringey moments and things being said…I’m just going to remember it as a good night out with work mates and this keyring of Ash and I!
The morning after, not feeling too shabby (honest!), James and I packed the car up and headed over to Ripon, North Yorkshire, where my parents, brother Andy and Bruno the dog have recently moved to. A gorgeous, countryside cottage literally right opposite the stunning Ripon Cathedral, it immediately felt like Christmas. In the mood for a night out, it was great to meet up with and FINALLY introduce James to some of ‘my old friends from home’, including my girly Ruth Sturdy, bonding over drink after drink… Shamefully, we all ended up in a teenage haunt (also voted as the UK’s worst club), The Matrix, complete with a revolving dancefloor…ahhh I’d missed that place!
The next day, both feeling arguably rough as hell, after a long walk in the beautiful countryside with my Mum, we all headed over to West Yorkshire where we spent a lovely afternoon and evening at my Auntie and Uncle’s along with my cousins, Anna and James. Amazing food, games like Jenga and Uno and catching up in general was so nice, one of the simple but most important and meaningful things about Christmas. James and I just about survived with our hangovers, as we collected my Grandma and Grandad who came back to the cottage with us all – a full house, you may say!
The day before Christmas, the weather was appalling so my hopes of going out exploring more of the hills surrounding us were dashed; instead, we had a chilled day with the family, played draughts and opened presents. I’ve got to say, Mum getting James an elf apron and hat set was a fit sight! In the morning, off we went back home to Manchester, grabbed a load more presents and away to Wigan for Christmas round 2 with the Higgins/Goodwins!
With James’ younger sisters being 10 and 11, it’s nice to have the fun, child-like element of Christmas still going; the excitement was infectious as we watched The Santa Clause film, one of the best festive movies for all ages. Once the girls had gone to bed in the hope that Santa would be kind to them, it was nice to chill out with James’ mum, brother David and his lovely girlfriend, Rachel before the madness of the approaching day!
Both Christmas Day and Boxing Day involved loads of awesome presents, delicious food, too much chocolate, more than enough alcohol, playing games and plenty of laughs; what Christmas is all about! I was lucky to get some great presents, including a gorgeous canvas from David and Rachel, my favourite food writer, Gizzi Erskine’s cooking book and my first ever onesie – I’ve pretty much lived in it since!
The day after James and I popped round to see my fellow The Media Octopus workmate, Ash, for a catch up which was lovely, then off we went for another road trip – to Blackpool! James’ Mum had very kindly organised for us lot, PLUS my parents, grandparents, Auntie and Uncle to stay in a gorgeous hotel just outside of the seaside town for the night. I couldn’t believe it when my Mum messaged me to say they were in the hotel…but stuck in the lift!! We all laughed about it once the firemen were called to resolve it, only my family would make an entrance like that!
That evening was just brilliant, the 14 of us enjoyed a delicious meal at the hotel restaurant then onto the bar area where we spent hours playing Uno around a huge table – again, something very simple but seeing both families laughing and talking amongst themselves was such a heart-warming sight for James and I! Enough of the cheese, but it really was an awesome way to end Christmas for both of us. We all enjoyed breakfast together in the morning, then it was time to part our separate ways with my lot – everyone was already arranging the next meet-up!
The rest of Saturday, we walked down the seafront in the freezing winds to Blackpool Tower, for the first pantomime I’ve been to in years to see Cinderella! As much as I thought it was going to be more for younger ones, the performance was brilliant, a lot of adult humour and references which we could appreciate, plus incredible acrobatic sets and gripping routines involving tight-rope walking, a unicycle and rodeo roping! After a pub meal and a few games on the arcades in Coral Island, it was time for home, one last night in Wigan before arriving back home in Manchester today.
This Christmas really has been about enjoying it with my family, James’ family, and bringing the two together and having OUR Christmas. Now we’re home, the tree is down, we’ve sorted all our presents out and ready for New Year’s Eve with our mates, James and Chris at The Living Room. With positive hopes and plans for the year ahead, I am excited for what 2014 has to bring, for us individually and as a couple, both in our personal and professional lives. I wish you all an awesome NYE and great year ahead! x.