With it being Christmas Eve I’m feeling reflective on my family traditions for the festive period. It’s probably because on top of the usual hustle and bustle of juggling work with preparing for Christmas we’ve also moved into our new home, so we might not be carrying out some of our traditions this year.
So with the thought of not actually decking the halls I will be getting my festive feeling through others this year (thanks to Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest) and when we visit family and friends.
My family’s festive traditions
The run up to Christmas
Advent Calendar – I’m a real lover of all things Cadbury and every year since I was a little girl my mam has bought me an advent calendar. Despite being almost 30 she still buys me one and now my husband gets one too.
With much anticipation, this makes it easy and fun to count down the days until Christmas with a lovely chocolate treat too.
Christmas tree – We didn’t have a real Christmas tree growing up but ours was always decorated with a mixture of traditional baubles, tinsels, lights and a star or fairy on the very top with homemade and personal decorations too.
My mam always calls it our higgledy pickledy tree because it isn’t Pinterest perfect with a specific colour theme but it’s perfect to us with decorations that are meaningful.
From our first Christmas together Steve and I have had a real Christmas tree every year and I absolutely love the thrill of picking out your tree, getting the obligatory picture and carefully popping Terrence (yes I name the tree) in the boot of the car.
Once home we carefully get Terrence pride of place in the living room, pop on a Christmas CD and decorate the tree and the rest of the house together.
Believing in Santa – I believed in Santa until I was probably 9 or 10 years old. I would excitedly thumb through the Argos and Littlewoods catalogues carefully chronicling the gifts I’d love to receive in my letter to Santa.
My parents would take me to Fenwick’s (a department store in Newcastle) to visit Santa in the toy department on the third floor where I’d sit in his sleigh and animatedly chat with him while beaming with joy as my mam snapped away with her camera (film not digital). It was a magical experience.
Now I’m older I get to delight in seeing the next generation in awe of Santa and the magic of Christmas traditions through my niece, other young family members and my friends’ children.
Visiting Fenwick’s window – I’ve only ever missed one (never again) but every year I get wrapped up and brave the cold to go and see Fenwick’s Christmas window in the heart of Newcastle.
Every year the Northumberland Street set of windows is transformed from advertising clothes, bedding and homeware goods into a magical story. This year’s theme is Paddington Bear and it’s lovely.
It attracts families and people of all ages from all over who queue up to get up close to see the story unfold window by window. There’s little characters and themed music and it all moves. It really does feel magical.
I love it and I can’t wait to one day take my own little family as my parents took me when I was little.
Getting the Christmas TV magazine – Even now with all the digital channels and a much better TV guide my mam still buys the TV magazine (only once a year) to make sure we can plan our festive viewing to capture all the Christmas specials and festive films.
The night before Christmas
Christmas Eve mass – With my mam being a nurse and often working some of Christmas and family popping in and out all day we’d try to go to mass the night before Christmas. It’s important to me that as a family we remember the real Christmas story and celebrate the birth of baby Jesus.
Christmas Eve pyjamas – Every year we’d always get new pyjamas for Christmas Eve. So after a hearty family meal together sat round the dining room table we’d pop off for a bath or shower each (separately of course) and our new festive-themed pjs would be waiting on our beds.
Obligatory photo in said PJS would obviously follow before we settled down for the next tradition.
Christmas Eve family film – Every year we’d settle down as a family sharing a tub of chocolates between us to enjoy a film together. The classic festive favourites such as Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone, The Holiday and The Muppets Christmas Carol have all been enjoyed in my house.
One year we let my mam choose the film. It was a disaster. She chose The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas! Needless to say we were all in bits and she hasn’t been allowed to choose again.
Leaving treats for Santa and Rudolph – We always left a little treat for Santa and Rudolph by the fire. For Santa a mince pie and a little glass of whiskey (it’s cold up North) and a carrot for Rudolph (to help him see better in the dark to guide the sleigh).
This is something else I want to carry on if we’re blessed with children one day.
I’ve never been one of those children up at the crack of dawn pleading with my parents to get up and rush downstairs to open presents (much to my mam’s disappointment). In my opinion the presents aren’t going anywhere so we always got up nearer the 8/9am mark.
One year when I was little my mam said after two cups of coffee and impatience settling in they actually woke me up and pleaded with me to get up.
So once we’re all awake there’s no getting dressed (just yet) we’re off downstairs in our festive pjs to check if he’s been (Santa). My dad would go downstairs first to check if he’d been, then myself and my little brother with my mam behind us.
Our presents were always wrapped in festive paper and we had designated areas of the living room. The youngest always opens their presents first and then we go round the room.
I always start with my stocking. My mam always fills it with little treats – Cadbury chocolate coins (still mourning the loss of those bad boys), satsumas, a few real coins, some hair goodies like clips and bobbles and little bits of makeup and a tube of sweeties and a Terry’s chocolate orange. Little bits of happiness.
Once presents are unwrapped and the rubbish cleared away it’s time for breakfast. We’d usually have croissants and festive crumpets and then we’d get washed and dressed before family start to arrive. I like to wear a Christmas jumper ALL day and change between a Santa hat and a party hat.
Then it’s time for more presents, Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, pulling crackers and wearing party hats and then we’d play party games around the dining table.
After consuming too much food (and sometimes booze) it’s time to watch the festive specials on telly and try to not fall asleep with full tummies and heavy eyes.
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I wish you all a very merry Christmas!
What are your Christmas family traditions? Let me know in the comments below.
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