My daughter and I were talking the other day and reminiscing about our family traditions at Christmas and how they are, somehow, slowly beginning to disappear. Some of the family has become a little estranged and as we get older, I feel like the much-loved traditions will soon become just faded memories. However as I continued to reminisce I realized that it really is up to us to keep our traditions alive, so I have bitten the bullet and booked the flights to go back to the cold UK for a joyous, family Christmas.
Of all the holidays, for me, Christmas is my absolute favourite. As a kid, I allowed myself to ignore the reality that there was no Santa Claus. I can now divulge that I must have been around 18 before I admitted to knowing the truth. Not that I was naive, I imagine in reality I was somewhere around eight when I knew he didn´t really exist. By today’s standards, still a little old. What can I say? In those days, we were children a lot longer than they are today. Nevertheless, I have never outgrown the excitement that I feel as December arrives. Not because of gifts or the commercialisation but because it conjures up memories of when I was a child, when my children were little and now it is the turn of the grandchildren.
One of the thrills is creeping round the garden rattling cutlery on a tray pretending it is reindeer flying by. I love being huddled in a large group as we wait while Granddad reads the Night Before Christmas, just before the little ones choose a carrot or apple for Rudolph, a mince pie for Santa and then go to bed dreaming of what might be. I cannot understand people who do not continue the myth to buy gifts under the alias of a hairy, fat, old guy in a red suit. I steadfastly followed the family tradition, as do my girls and we revel in the joy of watching the happiness on Christmas morning after HE had been.
Just writing it down evokes fond Christmas memories. The hours spent writing Christmas lists and posting to Santa, the daily opening of the advent calendar that heralds Christmas is getting closer by the day. The making and decorating of the cake and rushing indoors, after walking the dog, to be greeted by the smell of gingerbread and hot mulled wine. The funniest time was when Tilly was around 3 and OH was conned into playing Father Christmas for the nursery, we went out and got the suit and hair (the real McCoy) and he sat there listening to what each of the children wanted him to bring them. We were convinced Tilly would recognise him but she was totally captivated and when she came out she asked where is Granda, I had to quickly lie and say he was parking the car. When he came back in, she ran up to him and said Oh Granda, he was the REAL ONE and you missed him. Such innocence, such joy.
Mid November, I begin anticipating the appearance of Christmas lights. I visualise what I will put outside and around our house. I have several swags and wreaths to hang from the front balcony. There is a large wreath I put up outside the bedroom window and when I had a large house in the UK, I had 150 Father Christmas’s – now it is only 20 but one is 4ft tall and another is almost 3ft.
So another year older but I guess I’m still a child at heart. The tree resplendent with 500 twinkling lights went up 1st December, the presents are all sorted and cards written and ready to post. I am looking forward to carrying on our Christmas traditions, and hope everyone else has a safe and happy holiday season spent with those that you love.