There are times when I rue the day I had four children. Times like when we look up the cost of six plane tickets, try to take an unplanned trip to a restaurant at lunchtime or attempt to buy a car that couldn't easily double as a minibus. But today I was very glad to have many hands to help me, for today was the day that Christmas came to an end chez FDMTG.
I know it's not strictly 12th night, but the recycling lorry comes tomorrow and I am sick of the increasingly bedraggled tree forlornly moulting pine needles all over the floor. After several weeks of sterling service it was time to put the poor evergreen out of its misery.
Usually dismantling the Christmas decorations is a job for the grown ups, traditionally completed with much bad will and the last swigs of festive booze. The worst part of Christmas is the joyless task of hoovering up tree debris and attempting to fit the boxes of baubles back into the loft amongst all the random flotsam and jetsam that somehow washes up there. Ramming plastic crates of tinsel, lights and wrapping paper up against long disused baby car seats, my ancient prom dress and a cardboard box full of the eldest's infant daubs that I can't bear to part with.
It always makes me feel rather sad to see our once resplendent tree stripped of its finery and rammed unceremoniously into the green bin, its spiky branches outraged at being demoted from centre of attention to compost in the making. Little bits of glitter cling onto its needles nostalgically hinting at its splendid past, but the fickle sparkling star and glinting baubles have escaped from its branches to await its successor next December. What an ignominious end for such a integral part of the festivities, but such is the fate of the Christmas tree.
As usual I digress, because what made this year different is that it's the first when my boys actually helped me take down the decorations, rather than being banished to bed on the basis that they would be more of a hindrance than a help. The eldest was fantastic, unwinding the fairy lights, bundling up tinsel and boxing up baubles with enthusiasm engendered by the promise of eating the chocolate decorations.
Middle son was equally helpful rushing up and down stairs to fetch me tissue paper, scissors and carefully taking down all the home made decorations I can't resist hanging every year, even if it does make the place look like a playschool. Though his real moment of triumph was in helping his potty training little brother to do a poo in the potty. This is no mean feat as excreting is usually something he usually prefers to do in his pants (see I promised you tales of poo).
Even the twins trundled about packing away candles, though they were rather puzzled when I started to unhook baubles, scolding me 'Mummy you are not allowed to touch the decorations', just as I had roared at them countless times since the tree went up. Well at least it proves they do occasionally listen to what I say.
I am just as exhausted as I would have been had the job been left to me and Mr. FDMTG, but I feel buoyed by the prospect of a future when my boys can be drafted in to help with household chores, rather than simply creating and infinite amount of them for me to complete. I am just biding my time before I can hand over the laundry and the cooking.