Reality: You will not make it through December without wielding a sick bucket at some point. There's going to be snot everywhere, and when they reach school or preschool age, they're going to be fractious and knackered because it's the end of term. The Snowman is declared to be "boring" after the age of 3 and they'd rather stay in watching Tom and Jerry and picking their noses than go to a farmers market. And you can forget about the tasteful winter foliage; if it's not covered in glitter and playing a tinny version of Jingle Bells, they're not keen.
This year, I've found myself getting nostalgic for when Christmas was an adults only affair. You know, when you and your partner would expend all your energy on choosing the perfect gifts for each other, when alcohol featured at the top of the agenda, and you could please your damn self.
Mr Disgrace and I moved into our current house two weeks before Christmas six years ago - two years before Rory came along. We awoke on moving day to find the country encased in ice and snow, pelted up the motorway, full of naive enthusiasm and discovered that the contracts hadn't even been exchanged yet. We sat freezing in the car until close of business at 5.30pm, when someone finally pulled their finger out and gave us the keys to our house. Then, we discovered that there was no electricity, gas or water in the house, so we had to move in by the light of 3 candles. We spent the next fortnight wearing all our clothes and shivering under a duvet because nobody could connect the gas. It was so cold in the house that we could see our breath. Plus the ceilings were falling in and all was exceedingly grubby. Nevertheless, we bought a massive Christmas tree in an attempt at festive cheer and cracked open the Baileys.
Beacon of cheer in an otherwise bare house.
On Christmas Eve, we hit the M6 for my parents house (4 hours late because Rich got held up at work) in foul moods. I was angry because he was so late and we were both pissed off with our useless, ugly, arctic house, not really sure about the little town we'd moved too and were desperately missing my cosy flat with underfloor heating in beautiful Harrogate. Never had Christmas felt less Christmassy. Then Rich put Radio 2 on to break the hostile silence, and the Suzi Q's American Rock 'n' Roll Christmas programme was playing. Criminally, this is not available to listen to now, but the playlist is available at the link. Suddenly, we couldn't stop singing along and sniggering at the crazy songs, and the last hour of our journey was spent singing, laughing and finally finding our Christmas cheer. Then we pulled up at my mum and dad's house and good things were cooking and the house was warm and decorated for Christmas and there was Winter Pimms. The happiest no-child Christmas followed.
Earlier this week, in an attempt to recapture a festive vibe after a couple of days with Rory and the vom bucket, I tracked down that playlist and found some of the songs on YouTube. Then I cranked this up and grabbed Mr Disgrace for a bit of freestyle jiving around the house, some mulled wine and a mistletoe kiss.
"Nobody loves me any more. Nobody wants me", sulked our jealous (and very dramatic) only child who never has to fight with anyone for our attention and doesn't approve of hugs that he isn't involved in.
I explained that we do still love him - very much - but that we have to work on still loving each other too. Because one day he'll be grown up and probably wanting to spend Christmas with his girlfriend's family, and that if we forget how to have fun without him, those adults only Christmases of the future could feel very lonely affairs. Because the truth is, despite the vomit and the grumpiness and the endless kids telly Christmas specials and the tat, of course I'll miss child Christmases when they're gone. He'll only be small for such a short amount of time, and I love that he believes in Father Christmas, and that he took a pile of Quality Street wrappers to bed with him last night because they're his 'treasure'. I love Christmas stockings, and making wonky tree decorations with him and school nativities and seeing everything through his innocent, excited eyes again. And my husband. I love him too, which is why it's important that we occasionally ignore our child in favour of a grown-ups only dance.