Christmas is undoubtedly a time for family. But, sometimes, in the rush to see parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins and uncles and aunties, it’s easy to forget to spend time with your own family unit. For a family like mine, with my husband working seven days a week for up to 14 hours a day (I wish I was joking, but I’m not) and my kids always out doing their various activities, that’s really important. Because we don’t actually spend that much time together with just the five of us.
We spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my family, it’s my niece’s birthday on the 27th and we see my husband’s family at some point between Christmas and new year. My daughter does panto right over Christmas – she’s done 23rd, 24th and 27th and is also performing today, tomorrow and New Year’s Eve. Which doesn’t leave much time for the five of us to just be together.
So, a few years ago, we decided to take Boxing Day back for ourselves. I think it was a pretty unpopular choice with my family at first – Boxing Day was yet another day we traditionally used to spend with my parents, and my uncle and auntie often come over. But it was time to create our own traditions. The first and second years, we stayed close to home. The third year we went to London and stayed over in a hotel and last year we went to Bristol. This year, we decided to go to London again. But, tempting as it was, we didn’t stay over as we needed to be back for my niece’s birthday, panto and my inlaws arriving later that day.
The one thing my daughter wanted for Christmas was tickets for a musical. At first I’d thought maybe we would go in April, so she had something to look forward to. But my husband suggested maybe she could go on Boxing Day. The one downside of this was that we wouldn’t have the entire day as a family, but the reality is that my eldest and daughter do argue a lot on days out (and days in), so it wouldn’t do any harm to separate them for a while and would probably make for a more pleasant day. My daughter knew she was getting the tickets, but didn’t know they were for Boxing Day, so she was VERY excited when she opened her presents on Christmas morning.
We drove to London because there were no trains, but driving works out cheaper than a train for five people anyway. We drove right to Ravenscourt Park tube station in Hammersmith. I used to live nearby and know the area well. As an added bonus, parking was free on Boxing Day and we parked right outside the station. Unfortunately the District Line wasn’t running outside the centre, but the Picadilly Line was stopping there instead, so it really wasn’t a problem.
Time always flies in London, so we didn’t have time to do much more than have our lunch and a quick wander around Regent Street and Carnaby Street before it was time for my daughter and I to get to the theatre. Then my husband took the boys to Portobello Market, Camden Market and Covent Garden. They loved just wandering around and my eldest enjoyed the break from his sister.
And my daughter? She absolutely loved Wicked. It’s been running for over 11 years for good reason. It has a very good story, as well as amazing singing, costumes and sets. My daughter’s only slight complaint – not as much dancing as she’d like to see.
My husband and the boys met us by the theatre and we went to get something to eat before starting our long trek home. And it was a very long trek because there was an accident on the motorway.
I had wondered beforehand if going all the way to London just for a day was biting off more than we could chew. But it was absolutely the right thing to do. It was a long day, but it was just the break we needed before more family stuff and more panto.