I love Christmas, but sometimes experiencing a lengthy Christmas at school, packing it away and then starting again at home can be exhausting.
I am finding this year I need to work at keeping it a magical time for myself and the family. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and more tired, family are at different stages in life and what’s probably not helping is I’m still coughing and feeling rough after a recent illness. . . cough cough.
As children, our family had so many Christmas family traditions passed down the generations. Some have been altered or added to over time.
These traditions are our history and what makes us a family at Christmas. Some might be traditions of the masses, but others are unique and help make our family special and bring us hopefully together.
1- Advent Calendar– As children we always had the traditional crib scene calendar sat on the mantelpiece above the fire.
My boys when little, had a chocolate calendar and as they got older they secretly helped themselves to all the chocolates and closed the doors thinking I didn’t notice! I always bought a traditional one too, to show them the true meaning of Christmas.
Now I just have an Advent Father Christmas who sits on the mantelpiece and counts down to Christmas.
2- Christmas Tree– We have always had a real Christmas tree and whilst artificial trees are now of better quality than when I was a child, it’s a tradition I want to keep. I’m happy to have other small artificial trees, but the main tree must be real!
When I was young the needles were constantly dropping, but with non dropping needle varieties, the real tree experience is much improved.
When I was a child we put up the tree very late, but now I like to put up the tree early to make the most of the money we spend and to maximise that Christmassy feeling.
I usually purchase a new decoration each year to add to my collection, this year it was a silver snowflake from Tesco’s costing the grand total of 75p, we are counting our pennies!
3- Christmas Stocking– When I was a child our Christmas stocking was a pillowcase!
I loved getting a stocking at the end of my bed and waking up to open it. I have to admit I continued to have one until I was married!!
Our stockings were filled with small things like socks, pencils etc, but every Christmas I had my favourite comic annual, which back then was Mandy, Tammy or Bunty. Reading them on Christmas day was a childhood highlight. I can’t imagine something so basic would be today! My boys were also given annuals, but it was the Beano, Dandy or as they got older, Match!
As well as sweets we always had a lump of coal in the stocking, which was surprisingly clean seeing as it was accidently left by Father Christmas coming down the chimney, and of course the token healthy treat, a satsuma!
4-Midnight mass and carols– When we were very little we went to church on Christmas Day, but as we became older the tradition was to go to Midnight Mass, which eventually changed to a late evening service.
There were always carols before hand,so we could have a festive sing song.
Driving down the town high street late at night with all the strung Christmas lights lit up across the street, singing carols and then mass starts off our family Christmas Day.
These days parents are worried about the implications of drink driving apparently, so Santa gets a glass of milk instead. It isn’t quite the same!
Last year I purchased some reindeer food from a local playgroup which looked like a mixture of porridge oats and glitter. I sprinkled it on the garden on Christmas Eve to encourage Rudolph to visit.
6-Christmas Music- Whilst my mum is preparing and cooking the massive turkey my dad always plays Christmas Carols on Christmas Morning.
We usually play other Christmas music during the day and have always as a joke played ‘White Christmas’, to get a reaction from my aunt who without fail says “oh no not this, turn this dreadful song off!” We laugh and say what a favourite it is!
Sadly, this will be our first Christmas without my aunt, and although we are not at my parents like usual, I am sure the whole family will all play the song and smile in her memory.
7- Guests– My mum is a very giving and thoughtful person. Over the years as well as various family members, we have often had elderly people who have no family and no where to go on Christmas Day, to join us for lunch.
One guest who stands out and came for many years was the church organist, Violet. She married for the first time in her eighties to a slightly younger man. It was sadly only for two years, before he died and she was a widow. She lived to be nearly 110. I can remember saying to her ” How do you think you have come to live so long Violet?” Her answer, ” everything in moderation” On that basis it seems unlikely I’ll reach that grand age!
8-Present opening– We open our main presents around the tree just before our pre Christmas dinner sparkling wine and nibbles. Usually the younger generation hand them out and there is a mass opening with Christmas paper and presents everywhere.
A black sack is fetched and all the paper collected. In the old days we had a Christmas afternoon bonfire, but that of course no longer happens.
if my ultra tidy brother is round, the sound of the Christmas Carols will be mixed with that of the hoover!
9-Christmas Dinner- We always lay the huge family table, that has been passed down the generations, with the best china, crackers and party poppers. We usually pop the party poppers in the direction of the paper chain decorations hanging from the ceiling, so the string drapes over the top. I can always remember my gran who hadn’t a clue what to do with them pulling the popper the wrong way round. She was aiming for her face!
My mum does the best Christmas dinner with the full works. We always have home made Christmas pudding that my mum will bring in to the dining room, pour brandy on it and set it alight. We also have a family pudding called Fritze that is a recipe made up by my gran. It is a coffee, tiramisu style pudding and my boys think it is delicious.
This year I am attempting to make it myself. I am no chef, so wish me luck!
In the old days when both grandparents were alive, we had to finish dinner in time to watch the Queen’s speech. Now, we see it on the news in the evening.
10- Games- We always play games, which have included Consequences, board games, Canansta and Charades.
Telling my gran, who was struggling to act out the word ‘country’ in ‘A Country Practice she needed to break it down was one thing. Demonstrating, and my gran copying, has gone down in family history! I didn’t realise I was being rude and my gran certainly didn’t!!
Enjoy your traditions and have a wonderful Christmas,
if your lucky I might get round to doing a Christmas Vlog!
Honestly Fiona xx