Aimee Horton

A (slightly delayed) Christmas Fairy Tale – Part 2


Originally due to be published on Christmas Eve, I was struck down in the prime of life with coughing, spluttering, on-the-verge-of-death flu and have only just recovered enough in order to post.  Whilst sorry for the delay I hope you can now settle down with the dregs of the selection box and cast your mind back to just a few short weeks ago…


“How can you not know what Brio is?  Didn’t you ever go to the Early learning Centre when you were little?”


“No.  We went to the Cash & Carry.”


Listen carefully and you can actually hear his eyes roll.  You see his childhood was all wooden train sets; mine was training to set tables (we lived in a pub).  My small family and I never quite got the hang of decking the halls and fa la la la la-ing.  But then I met himself and I fell head over heels, right into a bucket of Christmas cheer sung loud for all to hear.  We’d only been together a few of months when I received my invite to his family Christmas.  I readily accepted, after all, it was July; there was plenty of time for circumstances to change and his enthusiasm to wane.  So on 25 December mum and I were duly collected from our grotto (the gargoyle had a Santa hat on) and taken to a family winter wonderland full of people.  Happy smiling ones.


Stood in the doorway I observed that this was all new; I’d not seen one of these before.  But looking closely I could see that this was most definitely one of those elusive family Christmases I’d heard whispers of.  All the components were there.  Wrapping paper strewn over a merrily decorated lounge, children playing with their toys (aged 27 and 25 respectively) and grandparents peacefully pickling in port.  Brussels were being peeled and bucks fizz was being poured.  Mince pies were baking and the beautifully decorated HANDMADE Christmas cake (they don’t all come from M&S, who knew?) took pride of place in the dining room.  Christmas songs filled the house and the fibres of my brand new Christmas jumper (pre requisite) vibrated along with Mariah’s high notes.  Yep, there was no denying it, this, this was Christmas.


We were bustled inside, sat down, exchanged pressies and within 5 minutes both mum and I felt wholly part of the fam.  It could have been the intoxicating festive spirits (port and brandy) or it could have been the huge festive family hug we were enveloped in, but our Christmas indifference started to evaporate.  Evidently it really was the season to be jolly and what previous experience had led us to believe (that it was the season to be friggin’ miserable) wasn’t the case.  If Christmas cheer was contagious, we caught the bug.  I was struck down with festive fever, Christmas pox and a chronic case of tinselistis*.  It utterly transformed me and my less than merry attitude.  I had my eyes opened to a happy family time where everyone got together to enjoy each other’s company, eat, drink and get pissed.  In contrast to previous Christmases where I wished I had a family to celebrate with, I realised that that was the celebration.  People, family, it’s what I’d been missing and now I had it.  It was my own little Tiny Tim Christmas miracle.


*courtesy of a cracker



Feeling Fearless


I’m not brave. I worry, I fret, and I panic. (Or at least I used to, I was hypnotised to nip that hyperventilating little freak out in the bud). I overthink things; I dwell and imagine the worst case scenario. If I envisage the worst, then when (alright, if) it happens, I’m prepared. Not only is it really not healthy, it makes my shoulders ache and I’ll probably get wrinkles. I wish I didn’t worry so much, my family wish I didn’t worry so much, my positive glass half full boyfriend doesn’t understand how one person can worry so much, but it’s just the way I am. I was wired to worry and when I don’t have anything specific to worry about, well, that’s a worry in itself.

My worries are wide and all encompassing, I’m not fussy. I worry about my family, my friends, my job, my health, my hips… Everything is a concern, from the mundane ‘my left eye is definitely smaller than my right’ furrow on the brow to the ‘have I set my alarm?’ restless nights to the ‘holy crap, I’ve found a lump’ teeth grinding fear. It’s actually quite surprisingly I’m not a quivering jelly of a woman, wrapped in bubble wrap and frozen by trepidation. No, as a friend of mine so aptly described it, I’m a swan. Utterly serene on the surface yet kicking like a bugger under the surface. See whilst I’m a worrier, my biggest concern would be that I let it beat me. Whilst I’m a clear contender for world championship worrying, this comes second only to my stubbornness. I dig my heels in, grit my teeth and my determination will not waver, which when it comes to apprehension, is bloody useful. I am far too stubborn to let any nervousness stop me doing anything. I don’t want to let on that under this calm (ha!) exterior that has somehow been attributed to me that actually I’m a big wuss. So if it scares me, I do it.

Tomorrow we’re going on holiday. He and I are going to Marrakech, which along with New York, has always been on my list. I can’t wait to soak up the souks, rock the riads and obviously wear a fez. Only one itty bitty problem. Flying. I don’t like it. I do not like being trapped in a big metal box thousands of feet above the ground. In fact, I hate being trapped in a big metal box thousands of feet above the ground. But some things you just gotta do. My apprehension has started to build over the past few days, I feel the odd flutter now and then, but I’m stubbornly ignoring it. No worry will stop me. Last year we were going to Spain, I hadn’t flown for 8 years so was having some cracking anxiety dreams à la Final Destination. So I bought a book on the fear of flying. I couldn’t read it. It was littered with spelling mistakes. So I went to the doctors for a little help (pill) and off I skipped with some Valium. That I left at home. I figured I scored a greater point against worry that whilst I had a backup, I still kicked it to the curb. And once we landed in Alicante, after kissing the ground (joking. Ish) I punched the air. Worry? Pah! In your face!

Admittedly I spent the flight sweaty, clenched and grinding but I felt the fear and I did it anyway. And when I flew again earlier this year, I was less sweaty, much less clenched and experienced little to no grinding. I can’t say my fear has disappeared, I can’t quite shake that sense that I AM NOT ON THE GROUND but I’m pretty sure there’s not a lot I can’t do. Perhaps as I get older I’m getting braver (possibly) or perhaps I’m growing out of my worrying ways (doubtful) or maybe I’m just becoming more stubborn (likely), whatever the reason, no irrational worries will stop me doing anything. Within reason. I’m not crazy.

When you have to remind yourself of the benefits.


I don’t know about you, but there are just some days when I sit back, close my eyes, and think “what have I done?”.  I know that sounds horrible, and it’s not something you want to admit, however, when you’ve had about 10 hours sleep spread over three nights, and you’re being told to “chill out because you’re giving me a headache” by a four year old, I hope guess you can be forgiven for thinking the grass is greener.

Therefore, I’ve compiled a list of positive reasons for having kids.  You know, just in case I forget again.

Birthday Parties.

I know that a lot of people see invitations to kids birthday parties as a hindrance but for me it’s perfect.  In exchange for a card and small gift I get a few hours out at the weekend where I get to dig into a birthday buffet (party eggs, wotsits and Cadbury’s fingers – you can’t go wrong), chat to other parents, whilst having more capable adults control my children.  I get to bop along to such classics as “The Superman Song” and “The Hokey Cokey”, and after it’s all over, I get to confiscate the Haribo from the party bags.

Naughty “nursery” food.

I’m just going to say five words Fish fingers, chips and Beans. You can’t beat them, hot or leftover on the plate. #thatisall

The Bar.

The minute you give birth, a new milestone suddenly appears in your daily routine.  Opening The Bar.  A time of day where once you’ve got over all the tears and tantrums, air punched when the bedtime hour song comes on the tv (ONLY FIFTY-NINE UNTIL BED TIME), and finally tucked the little darlings in, you get to sit down and take that first well deserved relaxing sip of meths whatever tipple you fancy.

Silence is golden.

There was a time, BB (BeforeBeasts) when I couldn’t stand silence.  Seriously, I ALWAYS had to have the tv, radio or some music on.  Even overnight and I was struggling to sleep I would have something on low, to drown out the tell tale creaks of people breaking in (paranoia at it’s best), or to calm my mind down, stop it whizzing around with everything I had to worry about.  When Matt went to the gym I’d hate it – what would I do with myself?! Now I have so much problem. On those rare occasions where I’m on my own I often just sit, lights dimmed, clutter of the day around me, and close my eyes and take it in.  Hearing myself think is a rare treat these days.

There are more hours in the day.

Thanks to the joy of children, you don’t need to worry about pesky lie-ins hindering your productivity.  With an extra 4-5 hours kick starting your day you’d think we’d get everything done.  It’s just a shame you need to constantly stop to top up the caffeine drip.

Specialist Subjects for Mastermind

I never thought I was smart enough to go on Mastermind.  I never really had a specialist subject (unless knowing all the Bananarama dance routines count?)

However, these days I could be champion.  After all, I bet I am the only person who has no interest in superhero movies to know the entire script to all three of the “Spiderman” trilogy.

I also bet that there are a lot of us out there that could give you a five year run on all the CBeebies seasonal songs.  For example “SUMMER SUMMER SUMMER TIME” was 2009.  If you’re interested.  Which I know very few of you are.

Legitimate Reasons to watch kids TV.

Cinderella, Toy Story, Scooby Doo, The Land Before Time, Shrek, Ice Age, Alvin and The Chipmunks, Horrid Henry, Thomas the Tank Engine, Peppa Pig.  The list is endless.  A chance to regress to your childhood, zoned out on the sofa with a blanket, a packet of Penguin biscuits and a strawberry Nesquik.

Just please be prepared for disappointment of change. You now have Postman Pat and the “SPECIAL DELIVERYYY SERVICE” theme and Thomas’s face is moving, somebody NARRATES for Pingu,  Oh, and DO NOT get me started on Fireman Sam.

Always being able to win.

Snap, Hungry Hippos, Running Races, Scatch, Swing Ball, Buckaroo, Operation, Downfall, all games I would fail at.  But it’s OK now as I can beat my four year old.  Just.

Living through your child

I always wanted Hungry Hippos but I had to settle for playing it at friends houses.   My mum said I couldn’t have a Mr. Frosty as my sister had had it and it was rubbish (I WANTED TO BE THE JUDGE OF THAT), and a good day out was being able to go to the Early Learning Centre to play with the Brio train track that used to be set up.  No need to harbour that childhood resentment any more, we now have Hungry Hippos, I will happily play Brio all day (although if somebody touches my track there’s an issue), and I am considering a Mr. Frosty for Christmas this year.  I can live though my children to play with childhood wanna-haves .  Oh – and they are going to be pop stars too since that dream was never achieved.

And the final one, that moment when they look at you and their face lights up with love.  That’s when, no matter how tired you are, how frustrated, how angry, it’s worth it.

Just don’t tell them I said so.