Christmas. However we celebrate it, everyone wants it to be perfect. Of course it rarely is. But that’s what makes memories. If every Christmas was perfect and the way we planned, we’d have less to laugh about, and fewer memories that stick out years down the line. Really, Christmas memories is what it’s about.
So much of the way we want Christmas to be when we’re parents is due to how we celebrated Christmas as a child. Unless you miraculously have a partner with a family who celebrated the same wway as you, then Christmas is unlikely to ever be like the holiday season of your childhood. But you can make it the way that works for family now. Adapt and tweak until it works for you.
Looking back we all have good and bad memories of past Christmas. N is already building those memories, and pictures of what he imagines Christmas should be like. Unfortunately he only had 2 Christmases with my mum, his Grandma before she died, but he’s always seen the OH’s family – whether it’s for the day, or just Christmas day tea time. So he’s not experienced having to travel and stay at relatives’ houses for Christmas.
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Both my family and the OH’s treated Christmas in a similar way, so we don’t have to worry about disagreeing with the way things are done. Unfortunately having to feed the animals and make sure everything’s already on the farm means early morning work still has to happen, and then again in the afternoon there’s a short feeding time. But otherwise they do take the rest of the day off. But Father Christmas, stockings, opening presents, Christmas lunch, is all largely similar.
Now N’s a bit older, he’s been asking more about how my Christmases were when we were young, and he’s remembering key things that he’s enjoyed about Christmases.
Memorable childhood Christmas moments
Breaking into our chocolate advent calendars to get the chocolate out early, then telling a few lies about having ‘just eaten it’ when our mum asked if she could have a bit.
How our mum would have to go out shopping again to buy another box of chocolate brazils because she’d eaten the box she bought for Christmas. (I’ve had to do similar with chocolate coins, marzipan and all range of Christmas foods I’d bought!).
Rooting through wardrobes and under beds to try and find presents. Our mum got wise and started wrapping gifts as soon as they’d been bought.
The Argos catalogue Christmas gift list. Spending days looking through the catalogue to decide what we’d want to put on our list for our Nan. And playing ‘what would you choose from this page’ on randomly opened pages (sad times when they stopped the Argos catalogue).
Seeing the Christmas tree all decked out for the first time – my mum always decorated it at night.
A carol service at one of the local churches, with the congregation split to sing the different lines of 12 days of Christmas. We were 5 Gold Rings.
When older, having a nap, then going out to midnight mass. Walking down with torches and all wrapped up, seeing lots of people I’d not seen for ages, then walking back and seeing cars driving home after being on night’s out, with them beeping their horns and yelling ‘merry Christmas’ out the windows as they went past. (It was much more fun going to midnight mass and singing carols, than having to get up for the 8am short service on Christmas morning).
Putting out our stockings, a mince pie, glass of whisky, and a carrot for Rudolph.Waking the next morning to see a bulging stocking, and having to wait until a reasonable time to go into our mum’s room to open them on her bed.
Finding out that most of the children up our road had the same sort of items in their stockings as us. One year, everyone had wooden bird pencil sharpeners, another year lots of use got 10 in 1 pens. It was like magic and Father Christmas really being true because he’d given lots of us the same stocking fillers. (thanks to Studio cards catalogue).
My Grandma’s and Nan’s similar foil decorations hung across the ceilings.
My Nan’s husband’s ears squeaking when he chewed on peas.
Playing charades with my Nan. And having to re-explain every year how to play.
Playing Trivial Pursuits*, and all of us being terrible at the entertainment questions.
Toasting crumpets on the fire, and sitting eating tea of crackers and cheese in front of the fire.
Divvying up the Quality Street or Roses…my mum would give us all the soft centres like the orange and strawberry creams because she wanted the nut ones.
Eating a lot. But then having to spend ages washing and drying up (no dishwasher when we were children).
Dressing up in our best clothes for Christmas.
Gifts that included a homemade liquorice allsort patterned jumper. 4 storey Sindy house with a lift (good). But also included a very short pale blue spaghetti strap crochet dress that was miles too small anyway, and awful oversized character nightshirt (bad).
My brother age 4 at my Nan’s house, wearing star sunglasses, and rocking with his new red plastic toy guitar that played only one tune.
Playing Christmas carols on the piano.
Watching Christmas specials on tv in the evening. And The Snowman – every year, and getting a bit teary at the end.
N’s Christmas memories
N;s aren’t that dissimilar to my childhood memories. They’re mostly about spending time with family. Christmas being different to all the other days of the year (despite still be a working day on the farm).
Christmas eve meal in the pub with all the family on the OH’s side. They’ve always done it, and N’s been included since he was nearly one.
Finding a bulging stocking (sometimes with something that’s too big, next to it), and coming into bed to open it once the OH’s in just before 7. It’s not a lie in for anyone in our house.
Watching The Snowman, The Snowman and the Snowdog, and various other Christmas movies in the Christmas run up.
Doing at least one Christmas light trail or visit, and getting hot chocolate and marshmallows to toast while sitting outside.
Christmas lunch at school, meeting Father Christmas, and the traditional school carols, including a funny stint with all the parents joining in to sing the 12 days of Christmas.
Crackers – both with cheese, and the crackers you pull. The bad jokes, the wearing (by some people) of too small or too large hats.
Doing a present drop in the morning at both sets of cousins’ houses.
Granny’s sausagemeat, brussel sprouts, and plenty of leftover turkey.
I always thought a huge family Christmas would be the best thing – having only had a small family and only ever really having us and then 1 set of grandparents, to me, having a big family Christmas would be the best. But N really enjoyed having just us at home last year when even my brother made the decision to stay at home on his own rather than coming to us. N loved just being at home and not having to go over to others – it meant having his presents and things rather than sitting watching relations play with theirs.
Christmas eve tea time going to one of the family’s house – with everyone else. Chance to eat cold leftover meats, salad, crackers and other nice foods, all the delicious desserts. And getting to hang out with his cousins and find what they’d got for Christmas. N’s the baby of all the cousins, and they rang up into their early 20s now, but they all get on so well together.
The year someone managed to drive their car into our hedge after presumably drinking and driving. Cue the police coming out and someone having to head back to the farm from where we were to find out the state of the hedge.
So many Christmas memories, and I’m sure so many more to come.
The great thing about Christmas is that there’s always something different each time. And while you might think you know what it’ll be like, you can often be surprised.
What’s your best (or worst) Christmas memory?
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