Each family have their own traditions when it comes to Christmas and the “holiday season”. With Halloween, Bonfire Night, Thanksgiving (for you U.S./Canada Peeps and us this year as we celebrated with our friend from the U.S. who is working at church.) and then Christmas all in quick succession I thought I’d write about what we do leading up to Christmas
Growing up, Christmas would start with Mum blu-tacking our advent calendars to the banister opposite the living room door in the hallway before bed on the 30th November, so that they were there ready for the 1st December. During December we’d work our way through very curious. It would then continue by putting up the tree together as a family. My Mum would have had a theme all planned out and we went from there. Everyone would join in but Dad had the assigned job of putting the topper on the tree.
During the Advent period we would work our way through the Christmas films that we had on video and then the ones of television as they were shown. These including Miracle on 34th Street (New version), White Christmas and Santa Claus: The Movie amongst others. Some were more preferable than others but would end up working our way through the collection.
On Christmas Eve as kids we would leave a carrot out for the reindeer and a mince pie and drink for Father Christmas. As we got older, Christmas Eve involved going to the Candlelight Carol Service at church. The service would start at 11:30pm and after a few carols and a short talk, the service would finish around midnight and we’d wish our grandparents a Happy Christmas before going home to bed.
Overnight our stockings (which were Christmas themed gift bags) would appear at the foot of the bed. Each year there would be a different selection of little presents but the stakes would be a satsuma and a bag of chocolate coins. My satsuma would either be eaten before we got downstairs for presents and breakfast or it snuck back into the fruit bowl at some point on Christmas Day.
Once Richard and I had managed to encourage Dad out of bed, we’d all head downstairs together to get open our presents. There was usually some kind of winding up from my Dad, he’d put his head around the door and then comment how there were no presents for us and the living room was empty – he did it every year and we still fell for it as if *this year* was the one that it actually happened. While I opened my presents my Mum would write down who they were from so that I could write thank you letters in the following days after Christmas. My Dad would do the same for my brother. Now that it’s the boys and me, I tend to end up writing down the thank you list and we take it in turn to open our presents as there were three of us last Christmas (this Christmas with Jaxon will probably be the same as he’s probably not going to manage to open his own presents himself).
My mum being the organised type would have the potatoes peeled and the vegetables prepped the night before. I think the turkey would have been in the utility room defrosting too the night before. Following present opening, Mum would get dinner ready. When we were younger it would often be that she’d sort dinner while we played – I think as we got older we would try and help out even if it was just getting mum a cup of tea or a cold drink to keep her fuelled! If we weren’t helping out we would be playing with our presesnts or watched a DVD for example. When Richard got games for his games console we’d often end up playing that even if we weren’t all that good at it – one year when he got his first Playstation we spent most of the morning trying to figure out how to play one of the games – I think it’s one of the few games I probably could still play and not die every time!
Mum would have decorated the table either different to the theme in the rest of the house or with a similar theme to the house. As we got older there would often be big church candles in the middle of the table. One year it became a competition to attempt to blow out the candles – you weren’t allowed to properly blow like you would your birthday cake candles, I think Richard figured he breathed heavily enough he could somehow manage to get the flame to go out. I think we were banned from playing it in the end!
The afternoon was spent recovering (usually nursing a very full tummy), Dad would get us all to watch The Queen’s Speech on the television and then work our way through the specials that were on the TV. Tea would be nibbly food and sandwiches rather than anything big. If we end up back at Mum’s for tea on Christmas Day, we usually end up co-ordinating tea around the specials including Doctor Who.
As part of marriage prep, we discussed traditions and creating our own now that we were going to be our own family unit in a way. We talked about the traditions that we each had in our own families and how we’d adapt those traditions into something for us. Something we decided was that Christmas Day would primarily be us at home together. We would go to the Christmas Day church service then come home to do stuff together as a family. Once we were married and had a proper conversation we decided that before church we could each open one present before getting dressed and having breakfast then heading off to church. Following church we would then prepare lunch and get it cooking then when it was at a convenient point we would intersperse the preparation along with opening presents. During this time we’d also call our parents to wish them Happy Christmas and also the grandparents and other relatives (this year it might include ringing Richard and Heather!).
When dinner was ready we’d gather around the table, pull crackers and tuck in after saying grace. Following dinner we’d either all help tidy up or come up with a deal where we’ll recover for a bit in front of the TV and then go back to tidy up.
Tea would either be at home or we’d go to Mum’s for tea and board games (and an episode of Doctor Who).
Boxing Day would typically be spent with my Grandparents growing up but now Chris and I are married between Christmas and New Years there’s a whole shuffle of attempting to see at least his parents, his aunt and housemate and my grandparents. We usually come up with some order that works.
This year with Jaxon’s arrival I think it’s going to be pretty much along the same lines but we are going to start leaving the bits out for Father Christmas and the Reindeer, have additional bits as its Jaxon’s first Christmas. I have a special bib for him although I don’t expect him to be on solids in any form until after Christmas and a special onesie made by a new local company called Handmade in Castle Road. Can’t wait for Jaxon to be able to wear it.
I even end up blogging about Christmas now. 2012, 2011, 2010. It seems I didn’t blog about Christmas but I definitely did write about it in relation to Jaxon’s arrival (at some point in the future) – Christmas 2013.
Do you have any particular family traditions? Do you have any particular ones that are a bit unusual to people outside of your family?