Getting Christmas Presents Right!?

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Christmas!  It’s all over, the big build up, the worry over which presents to buy, the stress of putting up the decorations, eating too much food and over imbibing on the wine!  Oh…and of course….the fun and laughter and precious family time with nothing else to think about because nothing is happening anywhere that you need to concern yourself with.

I love Christmas but I do let it stress me out and every year the big day arrives and I wonder why I was so worried and didn’t enjoy the build up more.  Every Christmas day I vow the following year will be different and I’ll enjoy the process and the next year is exactly the same!  This year, however, I have decided very definitely that next year I will love it all.


Typical ‘Shanks’ pose dressing up at the V & A!

The ‘Present’ Dilemma

As usual this year I was overly worried about what presents to buy the children knowing how tight money is right now and that I had to keep the cost as low as possible.  I pondered and pondered about what to get for the kids and eventually, with help from one of Santa’s Elves, I decided that this year instead of giving gifts that may or may not ever be used I would create memories instead.  With that in mind I went online and searched cheap hotels in London, the children love London and I knew it would be the best gift I could possibly give them.

Amazingly, I managed to find a Travelodge with family rooms at £28 per night so for £112 we had two nights accommodation for all of us!  Result!!!  With so much to do in the Capital we merrily kept ourselves amused for virtually nothing by happily wandering around the Victoria and Albert Museum, Harrods, Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park, Camden Lock etc..

The children even had the opportunity to meet my Literary Agent, Andrew Lownie (the number one agent in the world by the way!) who took us all for tea at a beautiful Tea Room.  They loved him instantly and we spent a happy couple of hours chatting away over tea and soup.  Having just spent and hour or so in Hamley’s the children were already well into the ‘London feeling’. 


And so it was that the trip was a resounding success!  Lot’s of laughter, loads of Shanks style Shenanigans, real quality time together and some beautiful autistic moments!  Lorie was renamed Dodger (after our dog), he runs off at every opportunity and Lorie spent 3 days doing the same,we spent an inordinate amount of time tracking her down!  Osborn questioned me about absolutely everything from “Do the tube trains run exactly along the lines they put on the map?” (ie…straight!) to “How do the sewers in London work and how deep are they?”.  With no Google easily to hand I attempted to answer his questions while everyone else happily skipped around trying to keep tabs on Lorie.

We did create memories and very happy ones.  There’s something about squishing eight people into 2 hotel rooms that holds a certain charm especially when all 8 of you are trying to eat a buffet style meal in one room!  But we laughed, we bonded even more closely and we enjoyed just being together as it doesn’t happen very often these days.  Let’s hope we may be able to do it more often.


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