I don’t usually use the c-word before December, because I’m a bit of a leave it to the last minute person, and I think the excitement is better when concentrated into a few short weeks. So when the #OtherMothers writing group challenged me to write about My Christmas Traditions I wasn’t very enthusiastic.
We are our own new little family, and have spent the last few years alternating between different wider family groups and locations, so we haven’t yet found our own traditions.
It’s interesting being from different countries (England and Ireland) how similar things are, but also how little differences in traditions feel so huge.
This will be our baby’s first Christmas, so she’ll be too young to really understand it, or remember it, so this year will be about us figuring out how we want to do things to lay the foundations for our future traditions.
Therefore, I’m really excited about reading all the posts from the #OtherMothers to get some ideas! I’m a big believer that it’s ok to adopt traditions from other cultures if it suits, and we don’t have to be bound doing things a certain way for the sake of it.
It’s also got me thinking about the traditions we had when I was a child. I do remember Christmas as being very magical and can still remember being amazed that Santa could construct a wendy house overnight in the spare room without waking my gran who was sleeping there. So hopefully we can make it magical for our daughter too.
My favourite christmas memories:
Santa’s presents appearing at the foot of the bed and being allowed to open one if I woke up too early, which I did because I was so excited. My parents usually put a book near the top so it would be something to keep me occupied and quiet, but that backfired one year when it was a musical piano book, and everyone got woken up early. In my husband’s house Santa left presents under the tree downstairs so I’m not sure which tradition we will follow.
Getting into bed with my parents to open Santa’s presents, and showing them in detail each one. They made a great effort to act surprised!
Going out for a walk on Christmas morning to burn off at least a few calories before stuffing our faces. In England that walk could turn into a quick nip into a pub, but that’s not an option in Ireland.
My mum soaking the fruit to make Christmas cake for months in advance. I would sneakily lift the cling film for a sniff, and the heady scent heralded Christmas was coming. Back then we ate Christmas cake for breakfast for weeks after, but now it rarely gets eaten so I’m not sure if I’ll ever make one.
Playing board games after lunch. A great family activity, to keep everyone awake (or at least that’s the theory).
Watching the latest feature family film. We didn’t turn on the TV on Christmas day except for special events like The Snowman or the Wallace & Gromit movies.
Christmas dinner was always special, and packed with things we only ate at Christmas like turkey and bread sauce. In Ireland the turkey is usually served with ham, but growing up in Lincolnshire we had chipolata sausages wrapped in bacon which were the best bit of the dinner. To be honest neither me or my husband are keen on turkey so we might be rebels and have something else.
Brussels sprouts deserve their own paragraph! Nobody seems to like them but every year we had them, and had to eat at least a couple. Over the years they were jazzed up a bit with various flavours, and I grew to tolerate them, but it seems an odd tradition where people eat things they don’t like just because it’s Christmas. That’s one tradition we might ditch.
For a long time I got a Peter the White Chocolate Polar Bear from Thornton’s each year. It was delicious, but also great to have some consistency, and there was great fun guessing which parcel he was in.
Dressing the tree was always a great day the weekend before Christmas Day (no earlier!). Dad would untangle the lights and search for any bulbs that needed changing. Kids these days will luckily never know the frustration of how long that could take. Then I was allowed to decorate the tree, and mum would come along later and rearrange it when we weren’t looking. One friend with German connections makes a great party of the day with guests adding a bauble each which I think is a lovely idea.
In my husband’s family they do a secret santa gift exchange for all the neices and nephews, and they gather on Christmas Eve to open the gifts. That’s a lovely time that I’m looking forward to sharing. I was an only child, but we usually spent some time with our neighbours on Christmas day and showcasing what Santa had brought was great. Christmas really is best when shared with family and friends.
What are your Christmas traditions to make it magical? I can’t wait to read everyone’s and hopefully we might find a few to copy, and our baby’s first Christmas will be one for us to remember.