Christmas this year is going to be a little bit different. Ever since H and I got serious about each other the best part of a decade ago, Christmas has been a bit of a compromise. With four sets of parents between us, thanks to divorces on both sides, our Christmases have required much advance planning, diplomacy, and knowledge of the least bad service stations. We’d set off from London on Christmas Eve with a car full of gifts and, between then and the New Year, dip into four very different celebrations.
Although we enjoyed certain aspects of our four Christmases, it was getting increasingly difficult to manage. The car was full enough when we just had Little Boy in tow, but with Baby E on the scene there’s no space for a net of chocolate coins, let alone presents for the family and clothes for a week. While it was okay for us to be living out of suitcases for a week when we were just a couple, it doesn’t really seem fair for the children. This year Little Boy is really aware of and excited about Christmas for the first time and I think it’s important that we’re in our own home for it, establishing our own traditions and making memories.
It’s interesting how many variations there are on the traditional English Christmas. The elements are fairly standard – big meal, gifts, booze, family – but even within my own family there are very different ideas about the ‘right’ way to go about things: huge Nordic pine v no tree at all, boozy indulgent festive breakfast v bowl of muesli, beautifully v hastily wrapped gifts, big meal at lunch time v big meal at tea time. Thankfully the excruciating tradition of opening one present an hour is long gone, and I don’t intend to revive it.
This year I’m excited to be waking up on Christmas morning in my own house with my own little family. We’ll be creating our own version of Christmas rather than just piggy-backing everyone else’s. We’ll decide what to eat on Christmas morning, when to open presents, what to wear and what to watch. We’ll do things our way. H is fairly relaxed about Christmas and happy to let me take the lead in deciding how we’ll celebrate, which is lucky as I’ve got some pretty strict rules for our festive happiness. Here are just a few:
- The tree must be real. Fake trees are very practical but just don’t do it for me at all.
- Start thinking about Christmas early, but not too early. Mid-November is about right for me. I enjoy the lead-up to the big day as much as the day itself, which is over in a flash.
- Mince pies must be eaten warm.
- The usual alcohol rules don’t apply; it’s never too early in the day for mulled wine or champagne.
- Always Roses, never Quality Street.
- Always The Radio Times never The TV Times.
- Gifts must be thoughtful but needn’t be beautifully wrapped. We’re all a bit busy to be faffing about with endless reels of ribbon.
- Joke gifts to be kept to a minimum – we’ve had our fair share of Cliff Richard calendars over the years and it’s not that funny.
- A Christmas walk might be talked about but we won’t berate ourselves if it doesn’t happen (as it probably won’t).
- Better to over-cater than risk running out of wine or food – a cardinal sin.
- Boxing Day is for family, not shopping.
- No scrooge-like behaviour is permitted. It’s a time for joy and kindness and counting your blessings.
Whatever you’re doing and however you celebrate, have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2013! Thanks for reading x