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A wedding anniversary, and time to put our lists in the bearded book

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The mister and I celebrated 16 years of marriage on December 27. Some people might think it a strange time of year to have a wedding but to us it just made sense.

When family are all together anyway AND a 40ft Christmas tree made it more tempting than we could resist. Who needs to spend time choosing flowers when there’s fairy lights and giant baubles as décor?

Each year we (usually) head out for a family meal and panto. At dinner we write our ‘family’ lists for the year ahead and look at what we’ve managed to tick off for the year behind us.

Not to be mistaken for considered, accomplished bucket lists, these are not lifelong goals by any means, more a chance for a little reflection. There is no ‘penalty’ for not having completed something on the list and there is no prestige for choosing to add a task more difficult than others.

Our lists are written in a book with a fuzzy Santa beard on the front. Hardly the stuff of legends but a step up from the first year when we used the restaurant napkins.

Each year, MJ’s family write a wish list. This Santa book is the keeper of the wishes.

Lists are written all together, giving us the opportunity to chat about what we’d like to do. One person is chosen to write it down and anyone can revisit, add, change or even remove. It’s an organic process as conversation unfolds.

My favourite part is discussing everything we’ve done during the year and noting down all our highpoints. Again these don’t have to be anything momentous. Something as simple as a sunny walk with the dogs somewhere new or discovering a hidden gem of a cafe can be a highlight.

First up? A list for the whole family. With some serious negotiation, it will be revisited several times before a final draft is agreed. Next, everyone has their own list for personal goals which can be as long or as short as they want. Everyone can make suggestions but nobody is allowed to add something to a list other than their own without prior agreement.

I have tried and failed to include a line about keeping rooms tidy, this was naturally vetoed by all but me. Stupid democracy.

Some absolute howlers

As someone reliant on social media for reminders of trips, events, birthdays past, these lists are a nice way to revisit the kids’ hopes and dreams. Littlest kid was only seven when we started. Her list is naturally very different now. In 2015 she included a request to ride her bike more and to have a sleep over with her cousin. It now includes electronic devices or shopping trips.

Some absolute howlers have been carried from year to year, having never been managed or forgotten. By revisiting our lists on the 27th it gives us three days to run about like dafties trying to tick things off. We’ve been ice skating on Hogmanay one year before playing mini golf in a freezing cold seaside town another.

Regardless of things we’ve forgotten for 12 months, none will be as impressive as the legendary offer to take biggest kid to Go Ape made by her Uncle for her 10th birthday. She turns 18 next year and it’s remained on the list all this time. Makes my parenting look positively organised.

The heady days of friends and travel

Remember those heady days when we were allowed to spend time with extended family and do mundane things like go on planes? Last year my godson was visiting from Australia and although he won’t be here this year we’ll send a reminder. Like the mister, he’s a man of few words so there are only three things on there!

2020 hasn’t exactly provided us with a mass of travel opportunities or visiting friends. Our 11-point family list (which I’m peeking at early to write this column) has 4.5 things ticked off, so we’ve some work to do.

I doubt we’ll manage a family holiday somewhere ‘hot’ and I definitely won’t be landscaping the garden this first week of January. However, our wee jems  stuck to their word and helped me through treatment, although they drew the line at my ongoing complaints resulting from sitting on the floor to wrap Christmas presents.