I love Christmas. It is such a special time for me. For me, Christmas means fun, festivity and most of all,family.
My Nan loved Christmas. She was a big kid at heart, and she used to get so excited about it. Her house was decorated, literally from head to toe. It was a Santa’s Grotto. And it was amazing.
When I think of Christmas, I feel excited, a rush, I feel the wonder and magic all over again. Sounds silly I know. But Christmas is special, I like to remember my Nan at Christmas especially as it meant so much to her.
It’s hard to pinpoint your family traditions, I think. You don’t really know whether it’s just your family that does these things! We have always decorated the Christmas tree, and we have always made Christmas decorations and angels to go on the tree. The Christmas tree in my house was never a carefully decorated and fancy affair, it was eclectic, colourful and random. This is why I loved it, and so we decorate our tree in the same way. I buy two decorations a year to put on the tree, whatever I fancy. When it’s all on the tree, it works.
The start of my Christmas really is when I put the Christmas tunes on. I start to listen to them in my car by the end of November (my embarrassing secret!) and it really does cheer me up, especially if I’ve had a bad day at work.
Christmas Eve used to be agony for me as a child. My sister and I would feel it would drag on forever! Christmas Eve was the day the Cadbury Roses chocolates would be opened. We’d watch all the Christmas shows on TV – Santa Claus the Movie a big favourite, as was The Snowman – and we’d try and keep ourselves occupied. Mum would be cooking the Gammon, making sausage rolls and mysteriously disappearing upstairs. We’d have new pyjamas to wear for bed, and we’d be ready to go upstairs to sleep much too early. We has books to read such as The Night Before Christmas, such a fab book, it used to make me so happy to read it. I always liked the line “he shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly”
Eventually we’d go to bed, but once there, we could sleep! My sister was the worst for this, and used to wake ME up because she was scared that she’d see Father Christmas!
In my childhood, my family’s Christmas Day would be waking up early, and me and my sister whispering to each other about who would open the bedroom door to check if our Christmas stockings had been filled. We’d carefully open the door and peer into the murky darkness. We could almost taste the magic in the air. We’d see the bulging stocking, and squeal in delight. We’d then take them off our door handles, and open them in our bedroom. In it would usually be satsuma, chocolate orange, hair bobbles, hair clips, lip balms and jewellery as we got older, and puzzles and toys when we were younger. There’d always be a soft Christmas toy aswell.
After the excitement of the stockings, we’d then whisper and debate about how to wake up Mum and Dad so that we could go downstairs…the excitement now at a fever pitch. Mum and Dad would be barely awake, and we’d make Dad go downstairs first, in case HE was still down there! We’d creep down the stairs, one by one. “Shhhh!” My Dad would suddenly say, holding his hand to his ear. “I think I can hear something”. We’d squeal in half delight, half fear that Father Christmas was still here and make Dad go down and suss it out. He’d go into the living room, then give us the all clear, and the we’d run the rest of the way down the stairs to see that Father Christmas had been.
The Christmas tree lights would be on, and the carrot, mince pie and sherry drunk, with some crumbs and the top of the carrot left to indicate they had been gratefully received. (Sherry was always gone….).
There would be two piles of carefully wrapped presents, in big red sacks – one for me, one for my sister. My mum would put on the radio, and the Christmas music would be on, from a church somewhere, ethereal and spine tingling. My mum would put on the kettle for a cuppa. We could barely contain our excitement to open our presents. Once a cuppa was brewed, we’d open our presents. After the church music was always junior choice, lots of Christmas music on the radio, it was lovely. We’d open a present one a time, taking it in turns. We’d delight and look at our gifts in awe. We’d take most of the morning to open our presents. Then we’d have breakfast. Later, suddenly we’d hear the door go, and a present would be left – one that Father Christmas Forgot! It was usually a present we both wanted. One year we had bikes, another year we had a Commodore 64!
Christmas dinner in my house was always different. We’d hardly ever had Turkey. We’ve had goose, chicken, beef Wellington, Capon, three bird roast. I used to love trying the different foods. We’d always have gammon as well. My mum would roast it on Christmas Eve, the honey and cloves smell wafting through the house. We’d have gammon and home made chips on Christmas Eve. Delightful.
The actual Christmas dinner composed of the meat of choice that year, stuffing, roast potatoes, carrots, Brussel sprouts, swede, roast parsnips, gravy. Maybe Yorkshire puddings too – I can’t remember now. It was delicious. We’d have a bit of Buck’s Fizz (more orange juice that fizz) and we’d toast a happy Christmas. We’d pull crackers around the table, and wear the hats and tell the jokes within them.
Pudding would be served a bit later, to allow our tummies to make room. Christmas Pudding with ice cream, absolutely love it. The smell of the rich fruit and the festive spices elicit pure joy.
My mum would always make her own Christmas cake too. A rich fruit cake covered in marzipan and topped with Royal icing. She’d decorate the top with a few festive characters.
Other foods we had at Christmas would be the tin of roses or quality street chocolates. We’d also have a cheese biscuit selection, with Hovis, Cream Crackers, water biscuits included. We’d also have jellied fruit, Fererer Rocher, Terry’s chocolate oranges, Matchmakers, peanuts, cashews. Pringles crisps, Doritos and dips. Lots of cheese to go with the biscuits. Twiglets in their long tubular box, and those small square cheesy things you could get too – I forget the name. Basically, the whole house was full of savoury and sweet goodies.
Boxing Day was always a day for family. We’d go and see my Nan and Grandad, making sure to take the things we had received from them, so they could see how much we liked them. Once there we’d have more good and drink, listen to the Christmas with Nat and Dean album on the record player. Games would be brought lot, such as Monopoly and Pictionary – games I played with them all, when I was a bit older. We’d get into teams, and there would be squabbles as well as laughter as my Nan got the questions wrong.
Just thinking of all of these memories, and traditions of my family, make me feel excited for Christmas. I can’t wait for this Christmas, our first as a family. We can put our own stamp on the day and I am intrigued how our traditions will develop.
What is your Christmas like? What traditions do you have? Let me know in the comments below!