These are a few of my favourite things at Christmas – Center Parcs competition

| Christmas, Family, Observations, Seasonal

I love Christmas, although this year is going to be very different as it’ll be the first one ever (amazing when I’m nearer 40 than 30!) that my brother and I will spend without our mum.  Hopefully we’ll still have a good, although different, day.

With there being 12 days of Christmas, it’s quite apt that I want to share 12 of my favourite Christmas things.

One partridge in a pear tree

Or a turkey in the Aga.  I love roast turkey.  Really I just love roast dinner with all the trimmings, and with turkey you get a lot of trimmings.  And being married to a farmer, we always have a turkey from my brother-in-law.  Near to Christmas, it’s a definite sign that we’re only a few days away, when we see the guys all plucking the turkeys and getting them ready for locals who order from them.

Two turtle doves

I guess it should really be carrier pigeons, the post or email, but Christmas cards (and newsletters) are something I love to send and receive.  This year I’ve had other things on my mind, and nowadays I tend to donate to charity in place of sending ‘work’ cards, but especially for old friends where we only converse online or at Christmas these days, it’s so lovely to read what they’ve been up to in the last year.  My brother doesn’t see the point of this, but I think it harks back to when my mum would write a family newsletter about what we’d been up to, and I’d read all of those from family friends that we received back.

Three French Hens

Our little family is made up of three.  Christmas is obviously a time for family to get together, and I want to make Christmas special for our family and a time that we’ll all remember.  It’s always hard when people get married and have to try and combine 2 different sets of traditions, especially when one half is constrained by still needing to farm at certain times on Christmas day.

Four calling birds

Chit chat and catching up with friends and family is a huge part of Christmas for me.  I have friends that I don’t manage to see very often due to all having families and living further away, but whenever everyone heads home for Christmas, it’s an opportunity to have a quick catch up.  It varies from meeting up to see Christmas displays like 3 of us have done the last few years (check out our Milton Keynes displays visit here) to just popping in at home to swap cards and presents.

Fiiiiivvvvve Go-old Rings

Christmas hymns and songs.  I love them.  Some people hate them and get sick of hearing them in every shop for the whole of December, but I love them.  I have a few Christmas albums, and I usually have music in the car, while I’m doing present wrapping, and just in general love to sing along when I can.  With The 12 days of Christmas song, it reminds me of a Christingle service we went to as children, where the vicar split the huge congregation into 12 sections, and each sang a different part when it was their turn.  It was brilliant fun and so effective.  (I also like the amusing 12 days correspondence version that they always read on Radio 2 each year!).

Six Geese a laying…

This year is definitely about laying down Christmas traditions with N given he’s approaching 3 years old, and will be understanding and remembering more about Christmas.  Stockings were a big part of my childhood (and even as adults, my mum used to put together an after lunch ‘stocking’ bag for us).  With my OH being a bit of a bah humbug, I want to ensure N gets as excited about putting out his stocking I made him, putting out a plate of mince pie, sherry and a carrot for Father Christmas and his reindeer as I was.

Seven Swans a Swimming…

Through all that wrapping paper.  Not many people like wrapping presents, but I really enjoy it.  So much so, that my mother-in-law usually likes hands over her table to me for an afternoon and I wrap her presents too.  I do like buying presents and thinking of items that people would love to receive, although as everyone gets older I run out of ideas, even for my best friend.  And the nephews and niece tend to now prefer items they can choose themselves.

Eight maids a milking

Well, we don’t milk the cows on the farm as they’re for beef, but because the OH’s a farmer, our Christmases are fairly removed from a traditional one where you’d expect family to come travelling from miles for visiting.  Instead, the men get up early to do the feeding, and then mid-afternoon need to go out again.  It means a slightly different day, but at least with the family all living close, it means nipping out to give presents on Christmas morning to each set of cousins is pretty easy (and manic with 7 of them trying to open presents and play with toys).  It’s great to know so many are so close and we’ll always see them.

cousins

Out at our Christmas Eve family meal

Nine ladies dancing

I’d like to say we do dancing round the Christmas tree, but that would be hard given it’s place is in a corner of the living room.  We don’t tend to put it up until the weekend before, although that’s usually because I have to wait for the OH to get it out of the loft.  This year, it’s already down so I shall be putting it up and decorating it this weekend.  I’m not sure N’s as keen, but I shall be keeping a watch out, as I can see him bashing baubles and kicking them around.  I do try and buy a new decoration each year, but this year I’ve not seen many suitable in my colour scheme (silver/clear/purple) – actually, I lie.  I’ve seen a stunning one, but it’s way too expensive to buy for just one bauble.  Maybe it’ll get reduced at some point!?  Last year I attempted to make a few decorations with N, but this year we stuck to a giant 3D snowflake.

christmas tree

Ten lords a leaping

Excitement of children definitely equated to lords a leaping for me.  We’ve got 5 nephews and a niece, and generally always have Christmas tea together as a wider family wherever we’ve been during the day.  It’s brilliant to see all the kids play together, even up to the eldest who’s a teenager now.  They all look out for each other, and it’s very much a family who get on.

Eleven pipers piping

Or the church organ.  While I no longer go to church regularly, I love Christmas carol services, and will be looking out a local church (our small villages rotate the services, so it can be a bit of an investigation working it out) so I can take N to the christingle service again.  I used to go to midnight mass with my mum, walking down to our big village church, and it was always a social event seeing friends and a full church in full celebration with regular attendees, and those people who’d just fallen out of the pub.  Hearing the bells and saying Merry Christmas when the clock struck midnight was always a special time and hopefully when N’s older, I’ll be able to take him to experience the magic.  The walk home was always lovely with everyone driving home and shouting out blessings and Merry Christmas.

Twelve drummers drumming

This year’s been a bit unusual with my mum being ill during Advent and what would usually be a great time of getting out and about with N to get into the spirit of Christmas.  I think Advent’s the perfect countdown to the big day itself, what with the excitement of opening a new door (or in N’s case, pocket) each day, cheesy Christmas movies on tv, and the sleeps until Christmas.  The long month run up to Christmas, also brings many opportunities to get out and about which is one of the suggestions that Nick at Center Parcs recommends as part of Christmas inspiration.  I like to get decoration ideas from seeing other displays at garden centres, displays, Winter Wonderlands, and we also get the chance for a bit of outdoor play and exploration.  Winter Wonderland at Milton Keynes awaits us this week as Hyde Park isn’t really an option this year.

Overall, I think Christmas is a winner, however you want or plan it.  Here’s hoping everyone can celebrate it and enjoy it, whatever their circumstances this year.

This is my entry to the Center Parcs and Tots 100 December challenge. If I’m chosen, I would like to visit Sherwood Forest.

Merry Christmas to all my readers, and thanks for reading my blog in 2013.

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