We all do Christmas differently. Some bits might be similar, but no two families will be the same and we nearly all think our way is the best.
I suppose I can’t really claim to have a “way” to celebrate – 2 years ago my Christmas was dictated by a spreadsheet, and last year I was in the Arctic Circle riding husky sleighs through the snow, chomping down reindeer meat and catching glimpses of the Northern Lights – barely a single similarity between the two! That said, this year was business as usual for our family, so I’ve picked out my personal ten top traditions, that for me, really make it Christmas.
1. Christmas in Red and Silver
The colour theme for us is silver and red, and we barely veer off this if we can help it. This year even our gifts were wrapped in the “correct colours” which was pretty clever.
I personally like to add natural-looking touches too, with wooden decorations, brown gift-wrap with pretty ribbons, and hand-made present labels.
2. The Night Before Christmas
This was a book that I received when I was 2 years old. Since then it has been read EVERY YEAR before bed on Christmas Eve. I just think it’s such a charming book that it’s a tradition I wouldn’t want to lose. We even took it to Lapland last year!
“‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there…”
3. Stockings left in our Bedroom
As with the reference in the book above, most people hang their stocking by their chimney (with care). This is widely known across the country….across the world, even. I’m not sure why, but in our family we have always had them left at the foot of our bed. And, now that I am well into my twenties I feel delighted that this routine has not yet stopped! Santa still knows JUST where to find me, clever thing. His gifts have moved on from plastic joke kits and sweets, to more useful presents such as makeup wipes and kitchen spices – but I still get the Lindt chocolate reindeer tucked into the foot of my stocking. What a treat!
We open our stocking presents in front of the family, in our pyjamas and slippers, while our other guests begin to rise and make their way downstairs.
4. Bubbles and bagels
After stocking presents we pop on our best outfits and head to the kitchen, where the day is kicked off with Bucks Fizz and bagels. If dad gets there first it’ll be microwave scrambled eggs; but this year we were lucky enough to have slowly cooked scramble, with delicious pieces of salmon and dill muddled in.
When these have been gobbled down we race around tidying up so that we can go and open a few treats from under the tree. We try and do these one at a time so we can all see what everyone got, but it’s often easier said than done as paper is ripped, torn and thrown across the room.
5. A Wintery Walk
Knowing how much food we’re about to tuck away later in the day, we are all forced into our boots and bobble hats just before midday, to set off on a short walk. With all the neighbours in tow we take our walk around ‘The Creek’. This familiar walk takes in country lanes, riverside paths, fields and woods, which gives us the best of everything within a stones throw of home.
7. Turkey and all the Trimmings
Well this one is obvious. Christmas Day lunch is more than your Sunday Roast so again we go all out. With Mum slightly out of action due to her broken back, my sister took up lunch-duties with her boyfriend. We had a HUGE turkey, pigs in blankets, roasties, glazed carrots and parsnips, carrot and swede mash, peas, brussels sprouts with bacon and chestnuts, bread sauce, stuffing, cranberry sauce, leek cheese, braised red cabbage and delicious gravy swooshed over the top. SO much food!
I know I’m not 5 years old but we coined the squeaking shriek of “GAMIES!” for family game time. Way more fun than it sounds. Honest. Most games are pen and paper based, such as categories, the dictionary game and the hat game – apparently most of these now have board-game versions but we stick to what we know! This year we discovered a few new board games including “Cards against Humanity”. This is a game described as being for “horrible people” and would not be advised for 88 year olds – still, we got grandma and grandpa involved. It is a grotesque game for people with twisted minds, and if you have the right approach is hilarious. Unfortunately I can’t say much more as I don’t know who will read this and many (most?) would find it entirely inappropriate to play with your best friends, let alone your elderly relatives.
9. Boxing Day Bonfire
All that wrapping paper. So much packaging. A recent storm, bringing trees in the garden crashing down. Yep, time for a bonfire. We do this in the same spot in our garden every year and the pyromaniac in me adores it! We always find so much to burn, and while we set to work clearing the garden, Dad gets his chainsaw out and does Man Things.
The final tradition is hockey with some of our closest Suffolk mates. We’ve done this for years now. The pitch used to just be filled with 20-a-side players of all ages – mostly under 18s. Now as the years have passed by, everyone is much older, and we had some skills on the pitch! Still a great age range, with kids, parents, cousins pulled in as ringers, but also taken just that little bit more seriously. A 3-3 draw seemed a fair way to end a close game.