If there’s anything I’m fiercely protective of, it’s my family’s Christmas traditions. And when I started asking around the office, I found I wasn’t the only one who clings on to tradition throughout the holidays.
As a kid, I always assumed my Christmas Days were just like everyone else’s. But when I told my friends at school that I had to wait until after dinner in the evening to open my presents, there were gasps of sympathy all round.
It wasn’t all bad – I’d always be greeted by a ‘stocking’ (a pillow-case) of smaller presents in the morning, which I’d dutifully empty onto my parents bed. The rest of the day was spent with the family (no TV allowed) while a magnificent Turkey roast would be served up in the early evening.
Presents soon followed, and we’d be made to sit and watch everyone open each of their presents one at a time. This certainly made the best bit last longer, but in my younger years, it bordered on agonising.
A stocking-full of Christmas traditions
I asked around the office to find out if my colleagues had any Christmas traditions of their own:
Charlotte Slayford: Some of my favourite childhood memories involve preparing Santa’s traditional mince pie and glass of ‘wine’. This involved pouring a glass of neat blackcurrant squash into a cup. We’d then find it hysterically funny to ask my parents if Santa enjoyed his wine!
Christmas morning would involve jumping on each other’s beds to wake each other up in the morning. We’d approach this in age order: so I’d wake my older brother, then together we’d wake my middle sister, and then the three of us would wake up our older siblings. Then all five of us would jump on my parent’s bed to wake them up.
Before we were allowed to unwrap them, we would have breakfast together. And then we would wait for my dad to get ready. And then we had to wait for him to call his mum to say merry Christmas. Finally, we were allowed to open the presents! After all these years, we still wind my dad up on Christmas morning asking him if he’s ready yet!
Patrick Steen: How does Christmas Day go down in Paddy’s household? For a start, I’m out of the big smoke and back to the New Forest with my family. The morning starts with stockings, filled lovingly by Santa (mum) with trinkets, toothbrushes and deodorant (I’m not sure what she’s trying to tell me). Me and my brother have giant hand-knitted festive stockings from our childhood, while we fill two of my mum’s socks due to her tiny size-three feet.
Then comes Christmas dinner, confusingly served at lunch time. My tradition is always the same – get my brother and mum to peel the veg while I get my hands on the turkey. Opening our larger presents comes after we’ve gorged ourselves but before the Queen entertains grandpa with her Speech. And no we didn’t watch her in 3D this year: I’m not sure what that would do to my heart, let alone my grandpa’s.
Trying new traditions
As much as I love my family traditions, we’re having to adapt as our family grows to include grandchildren, husbands and partners. Invariably our traditions will morph into new ones and my sister, who now has children herself, is starting to develop her own.
Do you have any Christmas traditions you’re loath to let go of? Or have you started any festive traditions of your own?