I'm not going to lie. Last Christmas was hideous. James and I received so many well-meaning cards telling us to enjoy this, our 'most special Christmas ever', and all I could do was look at the yowling six-week-old in my arms and wonder where my life had gone and whether our cheery correspondents were taking the piss.
I realise how ungrateful that sounds. But the potent combination of the physical effects of childbirth and the psychological effects of sleep deprivation and new parent ineptitude do not a jolly Yuletide make. I remember feeling extremely sorry for myself when I realised that I still wasn't able to sit down on a wooden kitchen chair to eat my Christmas dinner. Samuel was tiny and precious and delicate and I was absolutely terrified of him. But last Christmas's one saving grace was the fact that my mum and my sister came down to stay with us and help us get through it.
But this year was different. This Christmas we enjoyed ourselves. This Christmas we drove south to visit Granny Pat for a yummy boeuf bourguignon and giggles aplenty. Then we drove north to stay with my mum and sister. In the back of the car for both journeys was a hardy, boisterous and sweet little toddler who still had no idea what Christmas was all about but who was going to squeeze every last drop of enjoyment out of it nonetheless. The tree. The presents. The living room floor covered in torn wrapping paper. Joining everyone at the table to eat Christmas dinner. Running around, dancing and bashing on the piano. The utter adoration of his Grannys and Aunty. He was a delight and loved the lot. And I loved watching him loving having an amazing time. Especially in the house where I happily spent all of my childhood Christmases.
It was pretty textbook at home. Mum kept feeding us. The Baileys and Madeira kept flowing. By Day 3 cabin fever kicked in and Lucy and I escaped for an hour to a retail park and reverted to giddy 14-year-olds in a discount beauty store. It was so much fun and our haul was impressive. By Day 4 we were in the midst of Chrimbo Limbo - we had absolutely no idea what day it was, we'd eaten way too many Quality Streets and we had way too much time on our hands. So I did what anyone would do. I ordered Miranda Hart's Maraccattack DVD. Just a normal Kiely/Chittenden Christmas, then. I love my family so much. Can't wait for the next one.