As we float through the haze of the days between Christmas and New Year… here are some highlights from our family’s Christmas season.Read more…
As is tradition. Here is how the O’s spent their Christmas as a series of pictures.
Some of you might remember last year’s obsession with the Netflix original film A Christmas Prince, an outrageously cheesy festive sugar bomb of clichés and silliness. Of course Netflix spotted an opportunity to keep the action going and there’s a Royal Wedding based sequel. Mr O and I have revisited our commitment to watching a Christmas movie or TV special every day in December so we decided this was a great place to start.Read more…
This month’s Universal Yums box featured typical Christmas snacks from around the world. It was a mixed bag. Some stuff was delicious. Other bits were… interesting… Read more…
For the first three days of Christmasathon Mr O and I decided to watch some TV Christmas specials. I am not going to do big reviews of all of these because a lot of them are only about 25 minutes long and I have so very little free time, so my Christmasathon blogs are going to be a bit more basic… kind of like me. Read more…
Mr O has somehow convinced me that he and I should endeavour to watch either a Christmas film or Christmas TV special every day of December. This will be in between toddler wrangling, gift shopping and wrapping, all the Christmas baking, various social engagements and my full time job that is currently trying to kill me. Read more…
As is customary for us, Mr O and I spent Christmas with his family in Chelmsford (most of you will know that my family lives in South Africa and this is the most expensive time of the year to visit). It was a fantastic celebration ad always and here are the pictures to prove it.
I hope everyone got to have as awesome a festive break as I did. I already can’t wait for Christmas 2015!
For the past few days Mr Osbiston and I have been visiting with his family in Essex where we usually celebrate Christmas (in case anyone doesn’t know, my family is in South Africa and visiting at Christmas is insanely expensive).
I love spending time with Paul’s family, especially over the festive season because they have some awesome traditions.
Christmas Eve always means games and before we settled into Balderdash, we tried out a new game that involved pulling a card from a box and then describing a celebrity the celebrity on it to your partner. The best clue of the night (and I won’t name who it came from) was “that black paedophile” for Michael Jackson. Lol! Oh dear.
Mr Osbiston also came across a Santa top, which meant that I got to take this awesome picture of him. It’s probably my favourite picture I’ve ever taken of my husband… which says a lot for my weird sense of humour.
On Christmas Day Mr Osbiston Snr and I decided to go for a run. I hadn’t run since my birthday so I was a bit worried I was going to keel over but I managed about 4km in a sensible time and didn’t get too cold apart from my ears.
I was utterly, utterly spoiled coming away with more presents that I can even mention, including a fabulous onesie from my husband, perfume, clothes, pajamas, a running watch, recipe books, a scarf, tea… and the list goes on.
Then of course Doctor Who… which was… confusing. I love the Doctor but I really feel like it’s lost its sense of fun.
We used the after dinner period to do a dry run of the Boxing Day singalong. Paul and his dad are both really musical so it’s a great opportunity for them to play and sing together and for the rest of us to join in and ruin it.
Boxing Day brought Christmas round two and we were joined by his Aunt Phyllis, Aunt Andrea, Uncle John and cousins, Finn and Kyran who are 13 and 8. It’s always fun having kids around at Christmas and these two are no different. Although possibly Finn shouldn’t have stayed up quite so late playing games the night before and I’m not quite sure what Kyran is doing with these mini cracker screwdrivers.
Paul’s mum always buys great table presents and this year all the boys got bowties. I think Paul’s went especially well with the Shite Shirt I bought him for Christmas.
And here’s Paul’s Aunt Phyll with his brother, David, wearing one of the headscarves that the ladies got.
The evening ended with the second singalong, which was even noisier and slightly made me pity the neighbours.
For our final day of Christmas celebrations, Paul’s cousin, Marc, his wife, Sam and the youngest member of the family, Poppy (aged two) came over. Of course Poppy provided most of the entertainment because she is utterly adorable. No singing this time though.
We finished off the evening with films in our onesies, which is how I think all Christmases should end. I already can’t wait for Christmas 2014.
This is a bit different from my usual outfits of the week since I’ve decided to go mega casual… which is what I think Christmas Eve should be all about. Mr Osbiston and I are spending the festive season with his family in Essex, which is always lovely.
Paul’s mum was kind enough to buy Christmas jumpers for the whole family, which we all put on to eat our dinner. I think this is going to be a new tradition.
In this outfit I am wearing a polar bear Christmas jumper from Primark, high waisted skinny navy jeans from New Look and my lilac heart patterned slipper boots from Boots… because who goes outdoors on Christmas Eve? I am also not wearing any make-up, so be kind!
And as a special treat I have included a snap of Mr Osbiston in his jumper because he looks so handsome!
A lot of this post is down to the fact that Netflix’s selection of Christmas films is dire…
A Christmas Carol (2009)
This animated telling of Dicken’s classic Christmas tale (grumpy miserly man hates Christmas, is visited by ghosts from his past, present and future and then changes his ways) uses motion capture techniques to transfer Jim Carrey’s bendy face onto Scrooge and several other characters. For the most part this works quite well and Carrey injects a fair amount of both humour and malice into the miserable old man. Added to this the scenery also looks pretty amazing throughout, the animation means the ghosts are really dramatic as are the scenarios in which Scrooge views his past, present and future. Unfortunately by having a kind of halfway house between live action and animation also means that some of the characters just look a bit weird and the emotions don’t come across with sincerity, leaving A Christmas Carol missing the one element that really is essential for a Christmas movie – heart. 2.5/5
I have to admit that I haven’t actually seen any of the other Santa Clause films so it took me a while to figure out what the hell was going on… but anyway, Santa (Tim Allen) who used to be Scott Calvin decides to risk the secret of Santa by bringing his in-laws (Alan Arkin and Ann-Margaret) to the North Pole to placate his pregnant wife (Elizabeth Mitchell). At the same time Jack Frost (Martin Short) offers to help with toy production problems as away for atoning for attempting to take over the whole holiday. Unfortunately Jack only has nefarious intentions and Santa is too distracted by his home life to notice until he’s been tricked into wishing he’d never taken over the North Pole. Now Santa must fight to save Christmas from Frost’s capitalist plans and also keep his family together. Every element of this film reeks of cashing in and it’s just completely tacky and lame…. and weird. How does no one seem to notice or care that the North Pole seems to be running entirely on child labour? The end resolution also happens far too quickly after what seems like an eternity of set up. And Martin Short is so incredibly annoying! Maybe the first two films were good but this one is utterly pointless. Bah humbug! 1/5
In this modern retelling of A Christmas Carol Bill Murray plays Frank Cross, a heartless, greedy TV executive working on a Christmas spectacular live showing of the traditional Christmas Carol. As Frank focuses on revenue and torturing his beleaguered assistant (Alfre Woodard), sending bad presents to family members and making ever more shocking adverts for his show, he is visited by the ghosts of past, present and future Christmas. The best ghost is definitely the Ghost of Christmas Past played by former New York Dolls frontman, David Johansen as an angry cab driver. Carol Kane is also hilarious playing the Ghost of Christmas Present as a particularly violent fairy. With this being made at the height of the 80’s greed is good era the idea of the Scrooge character being a TV exec makes a lot of sense and Murray is on top form even though he appears to be half cut for most of the movie. 3/5
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
This is yet another retelling of A Christmas Carol, this time with Michael Cane in the role of Scrooge with Kermit and Miss Piggy playing Mr and Mrs Cratchit with Gonzo and Rat along for the ride. All the rest of the characters are played by various Muppets and there’s a lot of singing and some brilliant slapstick comedy, mostly from Gonzo and Rat. This particular version portrays Scrooge with more heart than most do, which makes his transformation seem more believable and touching somehow. I think I kind of expected to hate this but in the end it was sweet, funny and pretty much everything a Christmas film should be! 3.5/5
The kind of thing that normally makes a Christmas movie good – a moral, a happy ending, the feelgood factor – are not really the kind of things I normally like from a film, which means that my list of festive favourites is probably quite off the beaten track compared to most people’s and also missing a few supposed classics, but I have decided to have a go anyway and there are some in there that are more traditional holiday fare so I hope you enjoy them.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Starring (voices): Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara
The gist: The king of Halloween decides he’s going to have a go at running Christmas his own way, kidnaps Santa and takes over but things soon go very wrong because he totally doesn’t get it.
The Christmas moral: Be yourself, stick to what you’re good at and don’t be too proud to admit defeat.
“Jack Skellington: [singing] And on a dark cold night, under full moonlight, he flies into the fog like a vulture in the sky!
[in a deeper tone]
Jack Skellington: And they call him, Sandy… Clawssss…! “
Love Actually (2003)
Starring: Colin Firth, Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy (and about 40 other people)
The gist: The lives of several Londoners all come together in the weeks before Christmas
The Christmas moral: There are opportunities for love everywhere… but sometimes life sucks and you have to take the rough with the smooth.
“[At the altar, just before Peter is married]
Peter: No surprises?
Mark: No surprises.
Peter: Not like the stag night?
Mark: Unlike the stag night.
Peter: Do you admit the Brazilian prostitutes were a mistake?
Mark: I do.
Peter: And it would have been much better if they’d not turned out to be men?
Mark: That is true.“
Just Friends (2005)
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart, Anna Faris
The gist: A slick businessman who was once a fat, geeky teenager returns home for Christmas after years away and tries to reconnect with the girl he was in love with in high school.
The Christmas moral: Don’t be a bellend
“Chris: What about Sheila? You making any headway?
Ray: We’ll see. I’m taking her to lunch today.
Chris: Oh, whoa, whoa whoa. Don’t – don’t do that. Okay? Don’t do lunch.
Chris: That’s like the express lane to the friend zone.
Ray: What the hell’s the friend zone?
Chris: See when a girl decides that you’re her friend, you’re no longer a dating option. You become this complete non-sexual entity in her eyes, like her brother, or a lamp.
Ray: I don’t want to be a lamp.
Chris: Yea well then don’t be her friend, okay? Take that guy for example…
[points to a clumsy guy and a gorgeous girl skating together]
Ray: You mean that couple?
Chris: No, I mean the guy that *wishes* they were a couple.
Ray: What is your point?
Chris: My point is – Call Sheila, Ray. Call her right now. Move your day date to tonight. Play the entire thing aloof and no matter what you do, kiss her at the end. ‘Cause friends don’t kiss.“
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore
The gist: After his life doesn’t turn out quite like he planned, George Bailey wishes he had never been born so an angel shows him what life would have been like if he hadn’t.
The Christmas moral: You are more important to your family and community than you think you are.
“Clarence: Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
In Bruges (2008)
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes, Colin Farrell
The gist: When a job goes wrong two hitmen hide out in Bruges at Christmas waiting for instructions from their ruthless boss.
“Harry: [about Ray] So he’s having a really nice time?
Ken: Well, I’m having a really nice time. I’m not sure it’s really his cup of tea.
Harry: [after a long pause] What?
Ken: You know, I’m not sure it’s really his thing.
Harry: What do you mean it’s not really his thing? What’s that supposed to mean? It’s not really his thing. What the fuck is that supposed to mean?
Ken: Nothing, Harry.
Harry: It’s a fairytale town, isn’t it? How’s a fairytale town not somebody’s fucking thing?”
Home Alone (1990)
Starring: Macauley Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern
The gist: The McCallister family accidentally leave eight year old Kevin at home when they set off for a Christmas vacation and he has to protect their home from intruders.
The Christmas moral: Kids are more resourceful than you think
“Kevin McCallister: Everyone in this family *hates* me!
Kate McCallister: Then maybe you should ask Santa for a new family.
Kevin McCallister: I don’t want another family. I don’t want any family. Families suck!
Kate McCallister: Just stay up there. I don’t want to see you again for the rest of the night.
Kevin McCallister: *I* don’t want to see you again for the rest of my whole life. And I don’t want to see anybody else either.
Kate McCallister: [softly] I hope you don’t mean that. You’d feel pretty sad if you woke up tomorrow morning and you didn’t have a family.
Kevin McCallister: No, I wouldn’t.
Kate McCallister: Then say it again. Maybe it will happen.
Kevin McCallister: I hope that I never see any of you jerks again!“
Starring: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel
The gist: A man raised as an elf leaves the North Pole in an attempt to find his real family.
The Christmas moral: Never forget your roots
“Buddy: Sounds like somebody needs to sing a Christmas Carol.
Jovie: No way.
Buddy: The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.
Jovie: Thanks, but I don’t sing.
Buddy: Oh, well, it’s just like talking, except longer and louder, and you move your voice up and down.
Jovie: I *can* sing, I just choose *not* to sing. Especially in front of other people.
Buddy: If you can sing alone, you sing in front of other people. There’s no difference.
Jovie: Actually, there’s a BIG difference.
Buddy: No there’s not. Wait…
[Starts singing loud and off-key]
Buddy: I’m singing/I’m in a store/and I’m siiiiiingiiiiing!/I’m in a store/and I’m siiiiiingiiiiing!
Gimbel’s Manager: HEY! There’s no singin’ in the North Pole!
Buddy: Yes there is!
Gimbel’s Manager: No there’s not!
Buddy: We sing all the time!
Gimbel’s Manager: No you don’t!
Buddy: Especially when we build toys!
[Back to Jovie]
Starring: Jonathan Pryce, Kim Greist, Robert De Niro
The gist: In a dystopian future a bureaucrat gets sucked into a relentless and unforgiving government machine.
The Christmas moral: Big brother is watching
“Santa Claus: What would you like for Christmas?
Little girl on his lap: My own credit card.”
Bad Santa (2003)
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac, Lauren Graham
The gist: Conman, Willie, and his partner, Marcus pose as Santa and an elf in an attempt to rob a department store but things get complicated when Willie befriends a strange kid who thinks he is the real Santa.
The Christmas moral: Even the most jaded person is capable of connecting with someone.
“Woman in Food Court: Look who’s here! It’s Santa! Tell Santa what you want for Christmas!
Willie: [yelling] I’m on my fucking lunch break, OK?
Woman in Food Court: The manager’s going to hear about this.
Willie: You think you’re a threat? You think you can make my fucking life any worse? Go ahead, take a shot!“
Batman Returns (1992)
Starring: Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer
The gist: Batman has to defend Gotham City at Christmas when the deformed Penguin in cahoots with a corrupt businessman tries to take over the city.
The Christmas moral: Stay out of the sewers
“[Shreck shoots Batman]
Selina Kyle: You killed me… The Penguin killed me… Batman killed me… that’s… three lives down. You got enough in there to finish me off?
Maximillian ‘Max’ Shreck: One way to find out.
[Shreck fires two shots at Catwoman]
Selina Kyle: Four… Five…
[cracks her whip]
Selina Kyle: Still alive!
[Shreck fires two more]
Selina Kyle: Six… Seven… All good girls go to heaven…
[now within reach of Shreck; he pulls the trigger, but there are no bullets left; she laughs hysterically]
Selina Kyle: Two lives left. I think I’ll save one for next Christmas. But in the meantime, how about a kiss Santi-Claus?
[grabs ahold of a power cable and moves towards Shreck with a stun gun and a kiss]“
Today’s cute little box was wrapped up like a giant sweet and came with a note that said, “stationery, the fun kind.”
Inside was this set of alphabet stamps. I can’t wait to go out an buy some ink and try them out. Juanita, you are definitely inspiring my crafty side. I haven’t made that much since last year’s Christmas cards and opening all your gifts has reminded me how much I miss it! Thank-you so much!
Today’s gift from Juanita Tortilla definitely had me intrigued. Not only was it wrapped in a funky bag from a record store but the tag said, “How random…”
Inside was this belt that Juanita made from a piece of vintage lace she bought in Switzerland and a belt buckle she bought in Borneo. It’s a great gift for me because since I’ve lost weight a lot of my clothes are a bit on the baggy side and I’ve been wearing belts with them to keep them going. Thanks again, Juanita. What a unique and lovely gift.
Unfortunately my gifts for Chloe are being held in Newark for inspection! I can honestly promise that I have not put anything dodgy in it. All I am hoping now is that it’s being X-rayed rather than manually inspected or it might all arrive unwrapped. 😦
Today’s gift definitely had me intrigued… the note says, “To make ordinary things pretty…”
Inside were these two funky roles of washi tape.
I am a really big fan of this Japanese crafting staple and used rolls and rolls of it when I was making all the stationery for my wedding. I am definitely looking forward to decorating some cards and tags with it, especially since Juanita has inspired me with her very creative gift wrapping. Thanks for a fun and useful gift!
I couldn’t resist taking a black and white pic of today’s gift from Juanita Tortilla. The wrapping was so lovely and rustic so it just kind of matched. Today’s tag says, “since you’re in London…”
And the gift is this awesomely packaged box of English Breakfast Tea.
I have a bit of a sad confession to make… I don’t like English Breakfast tea, it’s one of those British things I have never learned to get on with. I love herbal tea and I can drink my weight in rooibos (traditional South African tea) but English tea just tastes likes socks to me. That doesn’t mean that Juanita’s lovely gift will go to waste though. It’s perfect for guests and because the box is so pretty it will look lovely in my kitchen. Thanks again to Juanita for the lovely gift and I hope you won’t be too offended if I don’t make myself a cuppa!
Time to open my first gift from Juanita Tortilla… each gift came with a cute little note and this one says, “we need more of this in winter”.
And inside is this adorable little mocha scented espresso mug candle. Mr Osbiston and I love to burn scented candles in our flat to give it a warming, homey smell. We recently finished off our last candle so this is a fab gift and I will be lighting it later when we have guests over for lunch! Thanks so much, Juanita!!
Christmas… it came and went with great excitement as well as impressive amounts of sloth and gluttony.
There were more than enough presents.
And Christmas Eve onesies.
And more than a little glamour on Christmas day.
I was utterly spoilt by all, especially my husband.
And nothing will ever quite top the Boxing Day sing-along.
Now to return to a life without, in the words of Cat Hurley, a daily cheeseboard.
Last night the third annual Secret Vegetarian Festive Dinner took place. For those who don’t know the history of SFVD, it’s basically a Xmas party with one group of friends the name signalling that we have Secret Santa, a secondary vegetarian meal needs to be cooked and we’re too irreligious to want to call it Xmas.
It was a slightly more subdued affair than normal with it being on a week night and us having no guest stars. In fact only Dominic, Josh, Niamh, Saoirse, Emily, Paul and I were around but in a way it being intimate was better and we managed to actually fit around our weeny little dining room table in our weeny little flat.
A new tradition was added to the table where everyone had to include a piece of original art with their Secret Santa gift. While not everyone managed to do a drawing, those that were unearthed were brilliant in a slightly pathetic way. These are mine and Paul’s.
The actual Secret Santa gifts were as weird as ever… penis pasta, a moustache mug, a packet of mullet top trumps and the bizarre men’s mirror ball thong that I got stuck with… thanks, Josh. The weirdest thing is that my work Secret Santa gift was a thong made out of peppermints. Is the universe trying to tell me something?
We ate, we drank, we watched videos on YouTube… we’re geeks after all… including this horrifying gem unearthed by Dominic… and a very good time was had by all.
I have no doubt in my mind that the tradition will continue for as long as at least some of us are physically able to gather together.
Of course if I had stopped drinking when out guests left I might not have felt like a dead badger when I had to get up for work, however Paul and I spent another couple of hours working on the mountain of leftover booze, giggling and listening to music, until we were pleasingly squiffy. Not so pleasing this morning though. Thank goodness the office is all but dead now.
All pictures are courtesy of Dominic.
Some festive verse for all of you to enjoy:
The decorations Matilda chose
were not as festive as you’d suppose
She bypassed sparkling red and green
and picked skulls and graves left from Halloween
When her friends came around on Christmas day
not a single one knew what to say
But Matilda showed no concern,
over the years she had come to learn
that no matter who was in her latitude
she never felt anything but solitude
apart from death’s constant presence
and the icy fingers of its beautiful elegance
Truth be told she never felt more levity
than celebrating her own end’s inevitability
So after dinner, her coup de grace
was to stare her macabre future directly in the face
and bring about with alarming haste
the dream she had held since the first time she’d waked
In front of every esteemed guest,
she plunged a candy cane deep in her chest
and commemorated her last Yule fest
by going to her final, eternal rest