Sunday, 9 December 2012

What makes Christmas 'Christmas' to me?

I am loving the 'Christmas' photographs that are being circulated on Facebook at the moment.  The ones I love most, are the old traditional sort, steeped in memories of a simpler time.  When decorations were done as a family by the fire, in woollen jumpers whilst snow fluttered past the - not so environmentally friendly (ie. drafty) - windows.
I don't know if anyone actually ever did or experienced that in real life, but it is a concept that many even to this day, love.  As much as we would like to say we are going to take our lives back to those traditional times, I think it is now impossible not to get caught up in the convenience of today.  For example, purchasing gifts via the Internet rather than braving the masses at the till points; filling the children's stocking with sweets and Playdoh rather than apples and oranges.
But as an adult we all have our own memories of our childhood Christmases.  If we are lucky, they are happy ones.  And they are the true traditional Christmas to the memory keeper.  I did not appreciate these until I became a Mother myself, and the spirit of Christmas - through my childs eye - became important. 
I took stock of what I loved and cherished as part of my childhood Christmases.  Over the last few years, particularly as 'child' became 'children', I have tried to ensure that we keep some of our longstanding own family traditions within Christmas.  The build up; the day; after.  I have also started to create some of our own.  You never know, as my boys grow and have their own families - if we should be so blessed - they might just do the same thing and I will see my grandchildren enjoy some of the same things I did as a little girl.
So what does make 'Christmas' to me?
Actual Shopping - Yes, although I have purchased some items online, I like at least one allocated 'shopping day' in December, when you queue to park, freeze as you walk, sweat as you browse and sigh as you queue.  Within this is a feeling of nostalgia that makes it all worth while.  After a wicked Hot Chocolate, in a cafe in which there are no spare seats and the windows are streaming with condensation, you struggle back to your car with your numerous heavy shopping bags vowing next year - you are doing it all on line.
Decorating the Tree with a Christmas Movie - This has always been what we have done with our children.  It makes me feel Christmas like and when the children get bored of helping (usually after the first few minutes) they generally sit and watch it nicely.
Wrapping Day - I think I mentioned this in a Christmas post last year, but my mum and I have a long standing tradition - starting back when I was a teenager and able to afford to purchase my own small gifts for people - of having a wrapping afternoon.  We lay everything out, admire our choice of paper, tags and adornments, hit play on a cheesy Christmas CD and devour a Terry's Chocolate Orange.  About half way through we vow that next year we are buying half the amount of stuff.
Garden Centre Lunch - Nowhere makes more of an effort than a Garden Centre at Christmas time and for about the last 12 years, my mum and I, have made a tradition of having a 'child - free' (my children not hers obviously) browse and lunch.  Usually the new 'annual tree ornament' purchase is made here.
Christmas Eve Baking - Even when I worked full time I would always book Christmas Eve off in order to do some baking and get as much cooking as possible done for Christmas.  We always cook our Turkey and Bacon on Christmas Eve.  Mum makes home made sausage rolls.  I make home made shortbread.
Christmas Eve Afternoon Movie - When I was a child it was The Santa Claus with Dudley Moore.  We would watch it in the afternoon when Christmas seemed to near, yet so far.  Now our choice of film seems to be The Polar Express - works for me.
The Christmas Morning Wait - When my brother and I were children we were made to wait on the stairs before we were allowed to go into the living room where the tree was to see if Father Christmas had been.  It wasn't a malicious thing by my parents, they ensured the presents looked great and in position while the anticipation and excitement of getting in that room reached a crescendo and we were always giddy by the time they opened the door with a wry smile.
The Hat Game - After the traditional Christmas dinner we always had our crackers, donned the hats and played The Hat Game (you write a name on a hat and the person wearing it has to guess who they are by asking questions).  We do not do this at the moment because the children are so young and not interested, but I will re-introduce it as they get older.
Snowballs - The drink that is, not the cold icy stuff from the sky.  Even as a child I was allowed a sip of that sweet yellow liquid and I still love it now.  My bottle has been purchased and is ready to enjoy.
No TV Until After 8pm - This was a great rule when I was a child and a great rule now.  I can not stand the tripe that is palmed off as Christmas Day TV viewing and as the TV is generally on every other day of the year in our house, it isn't on 25 December.
Boxing Day Dinner - I think I enjoy our traditional Boxing Day dinner to Christmas Days.  We have a big old chunk of bacon, mash and pickles.  This is also the day that toys and games get full attention.
Now I am feeling super festive and really rather appreciative of the lovely Christmas memories I am lucky enough to hold.
What are your Christmas traditions - do they come from your childhood?  Do you strive to make lots of traditions for your own children?
I am linking up to the BritMums Christmas Blog Hop.


  1. What a lovely list of or two I may pinch from you! I like the idea of the hat game after lunch and also Christmas wrapping together with a chocolate orange - takes the pain out of it! And I too always vow to buy less next year....never happens!

  2. What a lovely post - and I really enjoyed reading about your family's Xmas traditions, watching a festive movie decorating the tree & really liked the idea of wrapping day! One of our traditions is pancakes with maple syrup and bacon on special occasions! And defo no TV on Xmas day! x.

  3. Really like your suggestions, especially the Garden Centre one. Yes, of course. Garden Centres would try terribly hard to be Christmassy. Why have I never thought about that?

    Came here via the bloghop.


I would love for you to quack your thoughts along with me and will always try and quack right back.