Updated: Mar 12, 2021
So Christmas is nearly upon us and although it is going to be a very different festive period this year I am still excited. Ever since I can remember Christmas has been the highlight of my yearly calendar! The anticipation of Christmas Eve, wondering whether Santa was going to bring us any presents when we were young, going to bed late, trying our best to stay awake to sneak a peak of the Jolly white haired man eating our mince pies and delivering presents, but never quite managing it. Then waking at a ridiculous hour in the morning (much to the chargrin of our parents) leaping out of bed to find the pillowcase at the end of the bed had miraculously been filled with gifts when our eyes were closed! We would all pile into one bedroom and proceed to open every single one of our presents with extreme joy and then play with them (at the highest volume possible) intermittently running into our parents room to show them what Santa had brought us, until they could resist it no longer and came to join in with the festivities. We spent most of our childhood Christmases at our grandparents and we were always spoiled rotten with presents and an amazing Christmas dinner served up by my gran (a.k.a Benny) We would all crowd around the giant table and eat until we were fit to burst, then take bets on what time Benny would ask the famous question 'anyone for trifle?'
Over the years as our families expanded, the day looked slightly different, alternating between each others family every year, but many of the traditions still stayed the same, and I still have a sack at the end of my bed to this day (my husband fills it with little presents now!) Above all the over arching theme no matter where we spend the day is 'family'. For us it is the most important thing, which is why this year is going to be so hard. Not being able to squash as many people as physically possible round the table and elbowing your brother in law while pulling a cracker is going to feel very strange. However it is our first Christmas in our new home so we will be bringing many of our family traditions (plus a few new ones of our own) to the Christmas table. Covid may have taken a lot of things from us this year but it won't take my Christmas spirit!! 🎄🎄
With that thought in mind I wanted to reminisce and share with you some of my absolute favourite Christmas traditions (pre Covid lockdown) and activities to carry out over the festive period. When we are allowed to that is!
I absolutely love shopping for Christmas presents, I love picking the perfect present for a loved one and imagining their reaction as they open it. Giving gifts for me is one of the best parts of Christmas, I love to make someone smile with something I have chosen specifically for them. Normally my Christmas shopping would entail a visit to Meadowhall with my Christmas shopping buddy Grace - we would hit the late night shops and stay until the place closed for the night. Much money would be spent (some on presents - most on presents for ourselves!!) and pizza would be eaten at our normal shopping hang out, the old faithful Pizza Express where we would share a turkey based festive pizza. Sadly that trip had to be postponed this year and all my Christmas shopping has been done online. Although I have still managed to get all the presents I wanted for everyone, it definitely didn't have the same feel as physically walking round the shops while gossiping, carrying bags so heavy our fingers would threaten to fall off and leaving Meadowhall so late that the frost had begun to form on our cars! We will have to put a pin in that excursion...... Oh well there is always the January sales what do you say Grace??
Oh how I love to visit a Christmas Market around this time. Whether it be the 'german market' in Birmingham- which has to be my favourite of the UK markets I've visited. One of the smaller markets around the country or even jetting off to an actual European Market (Munich was great at this time of year) Nothing beats a good glass of gluhwein and a sausage while wrapped up in your winter finest snuggled against the elements. Roasted chestnuts and hot cider also come a close second! Sheffield's sleigh bar was fabulous place to frequent after some serious Christmas shopping.
Decorating the tree
There has been a lot of debate this year over when it is acceptable to put up your Christmas decorations with many people trimming up from early November. For me though I have always liked to put up the decorations on the first weekend in December. It is a great tradition which involves Christmas music, mince pies and mulled wine. There is an age old debate in my home about how to decorate the tree. My husband is more for a perfectly colour coordinated tree using decorations of one colour (two at a push) whereas I feel a Christmas tree should be bright and colourful with lots of different style of ornaments. Luckily I won the fight over the years and now we have a three year old in the house picking decorations the tree will only get more colourful!!
As for outdoor decoration I LOVE walking/driving around the streets looking at everyone's homes all lit up beautifully. The street we have recently moved to have gone all out this year and it is like a winter wonderland walking down it! I feel like we are letting the side down as we haven't any lights and I can't get them for love nor money this year. We will have to trim up next year instead!
This time of year is the time to pull out all the old Christmas classics and watch them on repeat. My Christmas memories of boxing day at my grandparents always involved watching Return of the Jedi. I'm not sure why ITV classed that as a Christmas film but it was on every year! Now we spend the days leading up to Christmas watching Home Alone, Elf, Its a wonderful life, Santa Clause the movie, Love Actually and Miracle on 34th Street. There are a few new ones I would like to add to the repertoire, The Christmas Chronicles and Last Christmas to name a couple. Are there any recommendations for must see Christmas films? My plan is to have them on a loop over Christmas this year.
Who doesn't love a good Christmas Song? There are so many fantastic tunes to listen to and more seem to be popping out of the woodwork this year. Top of my list would have to be Wham - Last Christmas (I have never had any hope of succeeding playing whamageddon as I love it too much) Mariah Careys- All I want for Christmas is you and The Pogues - Fairytale in New York. Although I love pretty much all Christmas songs and am especially partial to a bit of Buble and his greatest Christmas hits!
This has to be the best bit about the festive period. All bets are off the weeks around Christmas. You can stuff your face with chocolates at all hours of the day, make a feast of a meal and live off the leftovers for weeks after and basically ignore any food related rules there are! You want to have 4 birds cooked together? Go for it, fancy roasting up some nuts instead? You've got it. Want to eat purely trifle and sausage rolls on boxing day? Knock yourself out! You make your own rules!
I don't know about you but we always have a special breakfast on Christmas day morning of Croissants and bucks fizz. In my head there are three legitimate times you can have alcohol for breakfast.... your birthday, when getting an early flight for your holiday and Christmas!! It feels so decadent to have a glass of sparkle while listening to Christmas songs and eating flaky, warm croissants with lime marmalade. (Just the best topping - if you haven't tried it you need to!)
I took a break from visiting santa during my middle years as its frowned upon as a 20 something to sit on santas knee it seems!! However now I have a toddler the magic of visiting santa is back and his excitement at seeing the man all red and white is a pure joy to watch!! One of my absolute favourite grottos was at Centerparcs. We visited it a few years ago and it was gorgeous the walk through to Santa was so magical and R just loved it! It would be lovely if we were able to visit a grotto this year but this may not be possible. Santa did send R a lovely message from the Portable North Pole via video link which made his day!!
Now while some of these I won't be able to do this year. I will still be spreading Christmas cheer around, watching films, dancing, drinking bucks fizz, eating until I burst, enjoying watching my loved ones opening their presents (even if its via zoom) and making the holiday as magical as possible for my little one.
Christmas has not been cancelled here!!!
What are your favourite things about Christmas?