The Magic of Christmas Disappearing?

Sleigh bells, twinkling lights, tinsel and presents. The Christmas season is upon us and everyone has their tree up and their lights on. I love Christmas, I always remember how magical a time it was when I was a child. My father made a real effort to make it that way and I will always remember the one year he walked through the house in really muddy boots (mum was not pleased!) so that there would be large footprints everywhere. He was trying to convince us that Santa had done it, and it worked.

Although we had little money we still managed to have a magical Christmas. I remember putting out a mince pie and a glass of milk, not forgetting the carrot for Rudolph, and hoping that they would be gone in the morning. Waking up on Christmas morning and finding my sock full of fruit and sweets and the odd little toy was great, I have one specific memory of my youngest sister waking at 3am and asking if she could have her sock! Walking downstairs and rushing into the lounge to see that Santa had been considerate enough to put our presents in three separate piles, one for me and one each for my sisters, was great. The fact that we had no money didn’t effect the magic, not ever.

These days it all feels very different. Obviously it’s going to, I’m on the other side of it now and have to try and make this time magic for my boys. I’m glad my father went to so much effort because it means that I don’t really have to struggle to think of things, I just pinch his ideas. Last year we bought GoGo’s for my eldest and hid them around the landing upstairs, down the stairs and leading towards the lounge. He was very impressed that Santa had been into his bedroom and walked around upstairs to hide these little figures. The hubby and I gave each other a knowing smile. 

My youngest is just getting into the stage where he knows that Santa is coming and he knows he’ll get presents. Whenever we go shopping and he sees something he wants he says “Mum! I want this for my Christmas list!”, his brother has been adding things to his list for weeks and I think it’s finally rubbed off! 

There is one problem with having two children 5 years apart, how do you deal with the ‘Santa’s not real’ thing? My eldest is on the brink of finding out, he has friends who know already but have promised not to tell him. I think this will be the last year that we can convince him. But what happens when he knows? I’m hoping that we can tell him he’s in our little club, the ones that know the secret, and our little one still needs to believe in Santa.

The thing is, when you have children who don’t believe in Santa anymore how do you make it magical for them? They know that it’s you that buys the presents, or that they’re from others in the family and there isn’t some magical character that delivers them on Christmas Eve. How do you get them into the Christmas spirit without it being all about the gifts? 

I’ve got a year to think about this, I hope. Maybe I’ll talk to my father and find out how he dealt with it. Either way this is the last year that me and the hubby can enjoy the smiles on their faces when they find secret toys hidden in their rooms or see the eaten mince pie and empty glass (Santa now enjoys a glass of bourbon and a glass of Amaretto!). I’m going to enjoy every moment and I will secretly be hoping we can con our eldest into believing for just one more year. Fingers crossed!
All the photos are of Tesco Charity Christmas Cards that I bought yesterday. I love them!

The Snowman and The Snowdog Premiere

Thirty years ago a 26-minute animated film aired on 26th December on Channel 4 for the first time ever. An adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman, this film was an immediate hit, was nominated for an Oscar and has been shown on TV every year since. When I was a kid I loved this film and watched it at every opportunity. I always looked forward to seeing it on the TV and watching it now, thirty years later (OMG!), I still love it. The fact that my kids love it too makes it all the more enjoyable, we can all sit on the sofa watching it and I see their smiling faces as the Snowman takes the boy flying through the air towards Santa. That’s the iconic piece in this film, the flying sequence, and even now I think it’s amazing. Those pictures were hand-drawn and coloured in, people spent hours on this and it definitely shows. So, when I found out that there was going to be a sequel I was very excited. Another christmas film for my kids to see and another christmas tradition to add to the list, great!

The Snowman & The Snowdog premiered at the Empire Cinema in Leicester Square on Sunday 9th December and we were lucky enough to be invited. This is because my husband made the game, but we’ll get onto that later. I’d been preparing for this premiere for weeks, making sure the kids had appropriate clothes, booking a hotel for us to stay in over the weekend and planning activities for us all. When Sunday came I was wiped out from a hectic weekend but nothing could dampen my spirits. We’d been told that there was going to be a snow-globe for the kids to have their picture taken, face-painting and The Snowman himself might be there! 

We arrived outside the Empire Cinema at about 9am, a whole hour before we were allowed to go in, and saw the red carpet and three elves wandering around outside. A large crowd was gathering, some people waiting to go in and others just waiting to see the celebrities arriving. We waited as patiently as we could until they started letting us all in and then joined the long queue. This part was slightly disappointing. It’s nothing like they show on the TV, where the celebrities arrive and wander into the cinema with no one else around. We were ushered into the foyer with only a moment to see the snow-globe, face-painting and a quick glimpse of the Snowman then we were told to find our seats in the cinema.

The contents of our Goodie Bag
Disappointed we wandered into the cinema to find our seats and I noticed that every single seat seemed to have something laying on it. As we got closer and selected our seats we found goodie bags! As you can see from the picture there was the a copy of the The Snowman by Raymond Briggs, The Snowman including Father Christmas DVD, The Snowman and The Snowdog activity book, a plush Snowdog, a candy cane and a few advertising cards. The kids thought it was fantastic and wanted to pull everything out straight away, particularly the cute little plush. Whilst in our seats we were told by elves that a magician was wandering around the cinema and that if the children wanted a balloon they could go to the back of the cinema to choose one. My eldest did just that and came back with a Snowman for his little brother and a Snowdog for himself.

The cute little Snowdog plush
Once the celebrities were seated and everyone was ready the film was introduced and it began. I sat there with tears in my eyes the whole time. I did wonder if they would manage to make something as wonderful as The Snowman but I do think they’ve made a worthy sequel. It pulled at my heart strings, made me smile and most of all made me look forward to Christmas. In a film without words it must be quite difficult to express emotion but with the beautiful music and the expressions of the characters they got the lump to stick in my throat and tears to well in my eyes. Magic. The kids sat silently watching it and asked if they could watch it again when it was finished. Like I’ve said before, the mark of a good film.

I don’t want to spoil the film for all of you so all I’m going to say is watch it. The Snowman and The Snowdog is a brilliant film all on its own and a great sequel to the original, your kids will love it. It is due to air on Christmas Eve on Channel 4 at 8pm. 

Also, while I’ve got you… There’s a game too! Now, I have to admit that I’m a little biased because my husband and his crew at Crash Lab made this game but your kids will love it. You fly The Snowman, Billy and The Snowdog over Hastings, London and the North Pole collecting snowflakes, angels, snowmen and various other things from the film. There are objectives to complete, badges to collect and a wonderful world to fly around. There are also some nice little touches, shake your iPad/iPhone and watch what happens. The best bit though - the game is FREE. That’s right, FREE! 

It’s available on iTunes, Android and Amazon app store so whatever your device grab yourself a great christmas game that will keep your kids quiet for while! ; )

And don’t forget to look out for the film on Christmas Eve!