One thing I love is discovering other people’s family traditions. In life it’s so often the little details that make the biggest difference and it’s those quirky components of a celebration or a year that really warm my heart. Because of this I adore hearing about how other families ‘do’ Christmas Day. I’m sure there’s no one family on the planet that do every single detail the same and I find that so exciting! Last Monday Tom and I went to Brockenhurst in the New Forest to pick up our tree and decorate the house. I have some photos I wanted to share of the day but I also thought it was a fun opportunity to tell you about our family traditions for Christmas Day. Although Tom and I no longer live at home I still haven’t spent a Christmas away from my parents’ house and for me it’s utterly my favourite time of the year, and my favourite place to be. Because my brother works away in Leeds (though soon moving to Norwich), I live about an hour away and even my Dad works in Dublin during the week it’s really the only time when we get to spend an extended period of time together and every year I count down the days until I can completely immerse myself in family time, and all of the details that make it so special to me.
Tom and I decorated the house last week and I’ve already wrapped lots of presents! I must admit it’s looking absolutely lovely – I can’t wait to get home from work every evening so I can sit and enjoy the lights and the smell of the tree.
Tom and I will both be heading to my parents’ on the evening of the 23rd. There, our family Christmas traditions begin on Christmas Eve. We almost always go out for dinner together and often we make a trip to the cinema too (though less often in recent years). I remember being much younger and sitting in the darkness of the cinema, full to the brim with excitement about the impending festivities and eager to get home for one last peek at the presents under the tree before it would be time to see what was concealed under the wrapping paper the following morning. On returning home my Mum always suggests opening a present and everyone is always reluctant, eager not to forego even a tiny bit of the joy of the next day. The evening of Christmas Eve might end with a board game or another Christmas film, and will certainly involve cosy pajamas and slippers, the fire roaring away and a warm drink or two. Of course when my brother and I were younger there were even more facets of the Christmas Eve routine – a carrot left out for Rudolph and a mince pie and a drink for Father Christmas. Oh the indescribable glee of the next morning finding a plate of crumbs and a half eaten carrot! There would even sometimes be snowy footprints on the stairs that if one had dabbed a finger in might have tasted peculiarly of flour…
On Christmas morning the first person to wake usually wakes up the rest of the family and we gather downstairs in pajamas and dressing gowns for warm croissants and Bucks Fizz. After we’ve devoured breakfast we open smaller presents from stockings and the like. We used to open all of our presents in the morning but these days we open a few as we go along to eke out the excitement and pleasure throughout the day. As soon as we’ve opened the first set of presents some of us will disappear off to get washed and dressed and others will get started on cooking Christmas lunch. The smell of the turkey will waft through the house as upstairs any new bath/shower products are given their first try and clothes that have been laid out for Christmas Day outfits are pulled on. More Bucks Fizz is poured, Christmas songs are on the stereo, tins are chocolates are cracked open and the day is in full swing. At this stage Bodhi will be tearing around (literally) – ripping wrapping paper to pieces, wearing his Santa hat and enjoying any new toys he might have been lucky enough to receive!
The rest of the day will pass in much the same vein – gathering to open presents, top-ups of drinks, mass consumption of any chocolate based stocking fillers, Christmas music and the house filled with the smells of the lunch we spend the whole year waiting for. It never disappoints – piles of crispy potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, turkey, pigs in blankets and bucketloads of gravy. We eat until we can’t eat anymore, and then we eat dessert. There will be candles burning, Christmas carols and the buzz of excited conversation – talk of our favourite presents and which board games and Christmas films will fill the afternoon. And they will – Frustration, card games, Balderdash, Scrabble, Wii Bowling… with prizes for the winners! We’ll while away the afternoon with Christmas specials on TV (already pre-circled in the Radio Times) before a bracing walk along the beach at dusk to burn off all those naughty potatoes and chocolates (well, maybe not all of them).
Even reliving the day makes me feel full of anticipation and eager for the next two weeks to rush by! It also makes me thankful for how lucky I am to be spending Christmas in a warm home with a loving family and I’ve made a donation to Shelter to help those that aren’t fortunate enough to have those things we take for granted.
Now I’ve told you my Christmas day, tell me about yours! What are the traditions you and your family uphold every year? What’s the little detail you most look forward to?