Christmas Gatherings

Oh dear!  It’s been a while again!  Does anyone else find in the run up to Christmas they have too much to keep in their head all at once?  I’m a perennial list maker, but at Christmas I have lists coming out of my ears, and if I don’t, I forget everything that I’m supposed to be keeping in my head!  I haven’t put ‘write a blog post’ on a list because I thought it was so ingrained in me to do it now, but the things on my various lists have kept me away from Green Girl Gardener!  I’m struggling to remember what I’ve been up to since we last spoke, so thank goodness for photos – I’ve just perused my camera roll to remind myself!

I’ll start where I left off at the end of my last post, my gym Christmas do.  My Secret Santa gift was successful.  I don’t know the recipient very well, but I thought that she seems a fun, Christmassy kind of person, and I know she has young children so I decided to get her novelty tree decorations from Paperchase.  I stupidly forgot to take any photos and now I can’t remember what they all were, but they definitely included this lovely unicorn.

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I managed to just about squeeze three decorations into this lovely Gingerbread Man gift bag.

21E60A4C-8805-40CD-96FB-C28B0B2A4723I love Paperchase so much, I can browse in there for ages, and now the bigger Next stores often have a Paperchase in them, as well as a Costa, so I could literally spend hours in there and even have refreshments to keep me going!  If I get chance to pop out this week, I think I’ll see if they have some festive broccoli in the Paperchase near work because I think there is still a little bit of room on our tree.

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My Secret Santa gift was amazing. Someone had certainly done their research because I got these great gardening inspired gifts.

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I think I’ll plant something in the mug – it’s too nice to keep hidden in a cupboard!

The Christmas party was held at a lovely venue called the Old School House near Lichfield. We had lovely food and a night of dancing to get us in the festive spirit.

This week was also my work Christmas event, which I organised so I was feeling the pressure! Luckily it went pretty well and I think everyone enjoyed themselves – some possibly slightly too much given the size of the number on the bar bill!

We started by doing an Escape Room. We had the ‘Jingle Bells’ package which meant we got a mince pie and a couple of drinks included with our game. We had four teams and two played a war inspired game and the other two teams became samurai warriors. Only one of the teams managed to escape, and it wasn’t mine! I’ve really enjoyed the other two escape rooms that I’ve done, but I was in one of the war teams and I struggled this time. It started off well and we soon solved the first couple of clues but then it got really complicated, so much so that even when it was explained afterwards I still didn’t know what we were supposed to have done. Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all!

After this we went for lunch at Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse which is on the twenty fourth floor of the Cube hotel in the Mailbox, a commercial centre in Birmingham. The food was a bit of a mixed bag. I chose prawn cocktail to start and it was one of the best prawn cocktails I’ve ever had, juicy prawns, crisp iceberg lettuce and plenty of creamy marie-rose sauce.

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I followed that with traditional turkey with the trimmings and this was a bit disappointing. The veg was lovely, julienne carrots, roast parsnips, the obligatory Christmas sprouts and crispy roast potatoes, but the turkey was made into a roulade with stuffing and it was stuffing overload but not enough turkey.

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I rounded it off with lemon tart with vanilla ice cream and that was pretty tasty but it could’ve been more more lemony. You can’t please everyone, can you?

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After we’d eaten we swapped our Secret Santa gifts. I had perfect gifts.

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I commented to my colleague that whoever had me obviously knew me well as I got cat and teddy bear themed pressies, and he made the very good point that it could’ve been anyone in the office.  He’s right, I don’t hide my love for cats and teddy bears!

There were great views from the top floor, especially as the sun was setting.

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This weekend I made my annual pilgrimage down to Surrey to see my Mum, Granny, Aunt and Uncle and one of my cousins so we could swap cards and pressies. It was really lovely to see them and, as always, I’ve come back thinking I really need to make that journey more often. It’s so nice to be with people that you love, and who love you. With my family being so far apart geographically, I don’t get to experience it very often. Life always seems to get in the way, we’re so busy that time goes by and before I know it, another year’s gone and I haven’t visited. Maybe I’ll add that to my New Year’s Resolutions – make time to see my loved ones more often.

The pile of presents under our tree is growing.

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Look at that big snowman sack! That one’s for me from my Mum. How exciting!

I hope they all like the gifts I’ve chosen for them. I guess we’ll find out on Christmas Day.

My Mum likes Chocolate Orange (it’s not Terry’s, it’s mine!) so I crocheted her a little cosie.

 

As well as our Christmas gifts, I also came home with some cuttings that my Mum has taken from her garden.

 

I scrawled all over the photos so I remember what they are! I have two fuschias, one hardy and one not, a salvia, a geranium, a spray carnation and something which may or may not be a ragged robin.

I’ll be sure to update on the progress of these cuttings when the stupid winter is over! Stupid stupid winter!

 

It’s a family thing

I’ve mentioned this topic a couple of times in previous posts, but I promise I haven’t been trying to tease you. It’s a very important topic which is absolutely integral to who and how I am, and I so want to do the topic justice and I also want to make sure that I don’t cause any upset to the characters of my tale so for the past few weeks I’ve been thinking really hard about how to write it.

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Always a Pooh Bear moment for everything!

I want to explain, but without making light of anything that may have happened or anyone’s feelings. I don’t recall ever speaking in any great detail about this with any of those involved, so this will be the first time they’ve been aware of things from my point of view. Hopefully this will be a good thing!

I am completely a product of my parents. All four of them. Yep, you read that right, four of them. So, you don’t have to be Einstein to work out that there is at least one parental divorce (conscious decoupling to the Gwyneth Palthrows of the world) in my background. There are in fact two of them.

The first was when I was tiny. Really tiny, without a hope of reaching the grasshopper’s knee in fact. I don’t know the ins and outs of what happened, and I don’t need to. I suspect I was far too engrossed in the very important business of growing teeth and figuring out how to climb out of my cot to analyse what was going on around me at the time. I don’t have any recollection of it.

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The second was twenty years later. By this time I was in possession of a full set of teeth (minus four I grew that were surplus to requirements) but actually still hadn’t mastered getting out of bed in an effective way. I guess I understood a bit more of what was going on this time, but with hindsight I don’t think I had enough life experience to fully appreciate the heartache and how difficult the decisions were that were being made.

Both biological parents were remarried by the time I was five, and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have four parents, other than the odd snippet here and there.

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For me this is a perfectly normal situation and it actually seems really odd to me that I have peers whose parents are still together. I guess they might consider me the unlucky one, but for me I feel that they’ve missed out on things that I’ve had in abundance. I’ve always had the love of four parents, been able to ask the advice of four parents, had four sets of eyes looking out for me.

I hate the phrase broken family. I don’t come from a broken family, there is nothing broken about my family. Broken means faulty, and my family isn’t faulty, it just had to go through a couple of changes to find its optimum format.

I know it doesn’t always end well for the children of divorced parents, but I was lucky in that all four of my parents are sensible, intelligent and reasoned people, and even though there must have been incredibly difficult times for them, not once can I ever remember any negative effect on me. As a child, obviously I lived with one set of parents, but I regularly saw the other set. I will forever be grateful that I grew up before the technological age. These days we can so easily keep in touch electronically, but my Dad and I used to write to each other when we were apart. Actual letters written on tangible paper, with thought put into them. I can still remember the excitement of receiving a letter and knowing it was from my Dad. So much more special than an email.

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From standing here in my boots, I can only see the positive outcomes, by which I don’t mean to belittle the pain that must have been endured to get to this position. As well as two extra parents, I have two brothers, two sisters-in-law, a niece and another on the way, aunts and uncles, cousins, a goddaughter, grandparents, all of whom would have been someone else’s relatives if life hadn’t happened this way. Not having all these wonderful people in my life doesn’t bear thinking about. I have so many happy memories involving these people filling my head with joy, and the very notion that these could never have existed is just horrendous.

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When I say I have two brothers, strictly, of course, they are half brothers since we only share one biological parent, which leads me on to probably my only issue with the whole situation; nomenclature.

I never ever call them half brothers, I don’t call either of my non-biological parents ‘step parents’. I realise that sometimes it’s necessary for reasons of distinction, but to me they are simply my brothers and my parents. I don’t want to qualify that with any kind of prologue or preamble. This does, however, often lead to people not having a clue which Dad I’m talking about! Some people ask me, do you mean your real Dad? Nope, don’t like that! What’s the alternative to that? My fake Dad? No no no! Others give them a number – Dad number one or Dad number two? Again, no! Is it one or two in chronological order, height order, order of greatness? I have found that the mode of distinction that fits most comfortably with me is to define them geographically. I will mention the city in which they live.

Luckily I don’t have this issue with my female parents. My Mum is my Mum and I have always called my step mum (see, sometimes it’s necessary for distinction, however much I don’t like it) by her Christian name, C. Don’t know why this is. Maybe because we didn’t live together or maybe because I was that little bit older when she and my Dad married.

I think I’d make a great study of the impact of nature and nurture. I haven’t lived with my biological Dad since I was tiny, but I’m so so like him, even down to the kind of music we like. That’s got to come from sharing genes. I’m confident in a quietly assured way just like he is, I enjoy playing with words like he does. I’ve found an aptitude for DIY that comes from him (although I have to point out that I have absolutely nowhere near his level of skill). I often make a conscious decision to remain in the background and watch and appreciate my life happening in front of me and I’ve seen him do the same thing on many an occasion.

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I can be stubbornly determined and that’s my Mum coming out in me. I look like my Mum, although she sees Dad in me (incidentally so does my hubby). One of my major joys in life is making and creating, whether it be with yarn, paper or fabric and that’s my mother in me. I am never without a book and neither is she. I was once described by my managing director as stoic and that’s her through and through, as well, actually, as my Granny on Mum’s side.

I’m a natural introvert, that comes from both biological parents, but I have learnt how to be more socially outgoing and engaging by watching my step Dad (eugh, again necessary for distinction) interact with people over the years. This has been vitally important for success in my career. He has always guided by example but never forced an opinion on me and that taught me to think for myself, but to realise that just sometimes other people might know better because although they aren’t in your shoes, they have walked in very similar ones, and did so a long time before you even grew into your shoes.

From C, I have learnt caregiving. When you are in her company you just feel nurtured, and although we don’t have children to look after, I try to emulate that in my relationships with the important people in my life. She makes sure that her house is ship shape and Bristol fashion and that it contains everything you could possibly need, from Diet Coke and crumpets, to comfort and love. She manages to be thoughtful at the exact moment that you need it. She is also supremely organised and I like to think that some of my organisation skills have come from her example.

I really REALLY hope that I haven’t said anything to trivialise any events as others experienced them. I’m aware that a lot of what I remember, I’m remembering through the rose tinted brain of an uncomplicated child, because that’s what I was. This is testament to a happy childhood. That is what I had.

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These events happened around me, not to me. I guess what I mean is, I’m very happy with how life has turned out, and while I wouldn’t wish hurt on any of my parents, I wouldn’t change the present for the world. It’s just perfect!