I’m writing this post from my bed, nursing a chest infection, snuggled up in blankets, and wearing a Christmas jumper. It’s beginning to get dark outside, the lights are dimmed, two sets of fairy lights are on, I’m drinking hot chocolate and I’m burning a candle called “Christmas Magic”. There are Christmas songs playing softly in the background; Michael Buble’s tender caramel voice is bringing an indulgent calm to my afternoon.
It’s cosy, warm and tranquil atmospheres like this that I create for myself every Christmas that got me thinking about the Christmas traditions my family and I still have, and those that we’ve let go of.
- The Christmas Table. Now, this tradition has been in my family since before I can remember. We have a little cabinet in our dining room where we keep our “posh” cutlery and crockery. Every year this cabinet ends up with the name “The Christmas Table.” My Dad, from September/October, begins slowly piling up food and alcohol on this table until it’s dangerously mountainous by Christmas Day. There’s crisps, nuts, cakes, eggnog and more chocolate than any one family could possibly eat by themselves. No one is allowed to take food or drink from this table until Christmas Day, but after that, this table ends up being a decadent buffet table until New Year.
- Trifle. I don’t know about you but I’m not a major fan of the traditional Christmas cake and pudding. It just isn’t my cup of tea and my parents aren’t really fans either. Instead of traditional pudding, after Christmas dinner we eat homemade trifle that’s lovingly layered with vanilla sponge, raspberry jelly, fruit cocktail, custard and cream. I then top it off with a crumbled Flake bar from my selection box. I love the Christmas trifle and I was pretty upset when my parents decided that we should have a different dessert last year. In the end, we all missed the trifle and I’m happy to say it’s back with a vengeance this year!
- Advent Calendars. You’re never too old for an advent calendar. They’re a Christmas staple since early childhood but controversially, we’ve faded them out from our tradition list. Last year I often forgot that I had the calendar to open – it just didn’t seem to appeal to me anymore. This year the calendar has disappeared completely, and I must admit that I don’t miss it at all!
- The December De-clutter. Some people think I’m a little weird for this, but I will embrace that gladly! I adore tidying and de-cluttering. It’s stress relieving, it eases my anxiety and I feel accomplished at the end of it – particularly at Christmas. Every December I like to do a deep clean and de-clutter of my bedroom; nothing is safe. My windows and windowsills are cleaned, all furniture is moved and deep cleaned, and bags upon bags of stuff ends up going to various charity shops. Once everything is tidy and minimalist again, I can relax in bed with a candle on or some incense burning away at my desk and my fairy lights on. In a way, I’m “purifying” and preparing my personal space for the new year. I don’t feel comfortable and like Christmas has started until I do the clean.
- Ferrero Rocher. Every year my parents give me a box of Ferrero Rocher for Christmas and because of this, I associate them only with Christmas even though they’re available all year round. Eating them out of the Christmas season just feels wrong!
- Bedroom Presents. When my brother and I were children, we would get up on Christmas Day at some ungodly hour and annoy our parents to death with our excited chattering. We were too young to appreciate a lie-in and we got bored in our rooms way too easily. All the presents and food were downstairs, and we couldn’t play with or eat any of it yet! To combat our restless Christmas cheer, my parents used to put presents and food in our bedrooms when we were asleep on Christmas Eve. This usually consisted of one book, one DVD, some chocolate, cereal bars and an orange. This year, the tradition seems to be one we’re getting rid of because my parents have decided they’re too old to stay awake long enough to do it! (I have a feeling I’ll be somewhat disappointed at the absence of room presents on Christmas Day this year…)
- NORAD. A Christmas Eve tradition that I’ve grown to love is having the NORAD tracks Santa website open on a laptop as my family gathers together to eat and celebrate as the night draws in. There’s a little whoop of excitement from everyone as we watch Santa travel from country to country whilst eating questionable party food and playing board games. (And if we’re really really quiet, we can totally hear the sleigh bells as he flies over!)
- The Muppet’s Christmas Carol. This is my favourite Christmas film of all time and I have to watch it every Christmas Eve without fail. If I don’t watch it, then not to be dramatic about it, Christmas is ruined. There is no Christmas without this film for me.
- Sickness. Someone is always sick on Christmas Day whether it’s a cold, the flu, alcohol related incidents, or overindulgence. Someone is always ill. One year I had a migraine and basically spent the whole of Christmas dinner crying in pain. Sickness is my least favourite tradition and I would really prefer it not to be one, but let’s be honest, someone is always under the weather for you on Christmas Day too, right?
- Chocolate Biscuits. Some of my favourite Christmas memories from when I was younger was when my brother and I would bundle into my parents’ bedroom, eagerly talking about our bedroom presents. The four of us would sit on the bed or we’d go to the living room and show off our new gifts and eat chocolate biscuits for breakfast. If Mum and Dad started eating the biscuits without my brother and I then we were devastated. Naturally there would be some squabbling over who got the last biscuit, but I enjoyed that as much as I did the simple family time in the morning before Christmas Day got truly under way. We don’t tend to have biscuits for breakfast any more; we all do our own thing, but I have to say that I miss the chocolate biscuit bed pile up.
It’s probably not wrong for me to say that most people have their traditions that make the winter season unique, comforting and nostalgic. What are your favourite Christmas traditions old and new?