Well, I've survived two nativity plays, a class Mass with sixty six- and seven-year-olds lisping their way through Christmas carols, babysitting Nieces #1, 3 and 4 while my sister took #2 to see the Nutcracker for her Christmas treat, all the Christmas shopping and Christmas telly with images of smiling happy families... I'm prepared for tomorrow, with Niece #4's first Christmas and all the baby talk that's going to happen when my mother, sister and 8 months pregnant SIL get together.
But yesterday was something I was NOT prepared for.
Niece #1's Christmas treat was a trip to the temporary ice rink at the Natural History Museum in London. I missed seeing her actually on the ice - my other sister, her godmother, skated with her but then left very soon afterwards - but I went along to help my sister take all four of them into the Natural History Museum after the skating was over.
#3 is a very determined 2-year-old who runs remarkably quickly, and my main task for the day was to wrangle her. She loved pressing buttons on all the interactive exhibits, and it took a good few minutes to persuade her away from each one.
We started with the dinosaurs, which was great. Then while my sister stopped to look at a map and see where we could go for lunch, #1 and #2 spotted the human body exhibition and asked if we could go in.
We went through the displays on cells and muscles, then arrived at the entrance to the next exhibit. There was an interactive display with flashing lights, and #3 made a beeline for it. She then stood for about five minutes (or was it five hours?) happily pressing the buttons to make the lights come on.
The display was called 'See which sperm makes it to the ovum first'. It was a large 3-D model of a uterus, with little flashing lights representing the sperm making their way through it to fertilise the egg.
I finally managed to winkle her away from that display, only to be dragged by #1 and #2 into a giant mock-up of a uterus, with womb sounds playing through a loudspeaker. I was confronted with a five foot high foetus, which by happy (?) coincidence just happened to be pretty much the same gestation as my SIL's baby now is. #1 was asking lots of questions, which I answered through gritted teeth.
We passed through the giant uterus into an area with models of embryos at various stages of gestation, followed by pictures of a woman giving birth ("Look, Aunt ___ - that lady's pooing out a baby!") and then a room with all sorts of information about hormones and how they help in the baby-making process.
If I can survive that, I'm pretty sure I can survive the rest of Christmas. Whatever way the conversation turns, I can comfort myself with the thought that at least I'm not stuck in a giant uterus with a five-foot foetus staring me in the face.
I hope you all have a happy Christmas - and that next year a few more of us are looking forward to our children's first Christmas.