Christmas is steeped in tradition. It goes without saying. Every family has their own. When I was a child we used to wake up (well, I used to get ridiculously overexcited and wake at 5am) and find a pillow case with little ‘doing’ presents (colouring books, puzzles and fiction books) in to keep us (me) going until Mum and Dad woke up. We used to watch Carols from Kings on Christmas Eve – I try and carry that one on now, despite the desire of my in-laws to watch ‘The Soaps’. Grr. There were loads of others: my Dad making cheese straws; my Mum’s amazing Christmas dinner and her gorgeous home-made brandy butter; drinking cinzano and lemonade; eating vast quantities of cheese; playing board games and cards; visiting Father Christmas at a big London department store; leaving a mince pie, a carrot and a glass of brandy (not a whiskey man in our house) out for Father Christmas. Prawn cocktails! Top of the Pops Christmas Special! Cheese and pineapple on sticks! Playing computer games! I could go on…I won’t. Vol au vents! Playing snap (noisily) with my sister! Ok, I’m done.
Now I have a family of my own I can establish my own traditions – borrowing hugely from my childhood and creating a few new ones.
When I was pregnant I bought the girls a Christmas decoration each and every year since I’ve bought them a new one (or two), the idea being that when they grow up and move away from home, they’ll have enough decorations to furnish their own trees (I can foresee sisterly fighting over assorted fairies, jingly bell things and wiggly-legged Santas already).
The girls receive a new pair of pyjamas each that they can wear to bed on Christmas Eve and open their presents in on Christmas morning. I always read ‘The night before Christmas’ to them on Christmas Eve. They have a stocking each with little fun presents in. I make the Christmas pudding and cake in November. We’re teaching them Christmas songs. Over the years I know we’ll add other little customs to the mix.
I can’t wait to leave two pillowcases of pressies outside their bedroom door. We’ve already started playing computer games with them. I can’t wait to introduce them to the cheese board – not for a few years yet, mind.
I want R and G to look back on their childhood Christmases as fondly as my sister and I look back on ours. When they grow up and eventually stop squabbling over which decorations are theirs, I hope they put them on their own trees with many years of fond Christmas memories to look back on…and are inspired to develop their own little traditions as I have been.