I don’t know when the Christmas celebrations start in your house, I suspect if you have little ones it will be earlier rather than later. For us, it all begins at the very end of November when twinkly lights are appearing in windows and Mariah usually hits the airwaves for the first time. For me, December has always been about the traditions. I was like the festive traditions police in our house growing up, if we did something once it became a tradition, and heaven help anyone who dared to deviate in even the slightest way. Christmas was, and still is, magical in my parents’ home. From the moment we placed the angel on top of the tree, to stirring the Christmas pud and making that all important wish (my hubby is fully convinced we made this up), from opening one special present on Christmas Eve (always a goodie bag from my Auntie Mo) to the moment we all sat down in a food coma to watch some sort of Christmas special. Every single moment was golden and my memories of family Christmases really do make me feel oh so warm and fuzzy inside.
Over the years the way in which we did things changed but the sentiment stayed the same. It was all about Jesus, family and delicious food. When Mark and I got married we were determined to carry many of our separate family traditions into our own home, but we started some new ones too. That particular year I decided to get crafty and made us an advent calendar with activities for each day rather than chocolates. I wanted to make our first Christmas as Mr & Mrs as magical as possible and as we were both working incredibly hard it was the perfect way to be intentional about spending time together. We have used this idea every year since and it is by far one of my favourite traditions. Back then our activities went something along the lines of ‘go out for Christmas cocktails’, ‘host an ugly jumper party’, ‘have an overnight stay in a spa hotel’ whereas now they are significantly more simple; ‘read Christmas stories by the twinkly lights’, ‘watch a Christmas movie & drink hot chocolates’, ‘visit Santa Clause’, ‘have an indoor picnic dinner’…worlds apart but both wonderful. I bought a beautiful DIY calendar from Cox & Cox a couple of years ago and I really do start to get all the feels as soon as I start putting it together.
Since moving to our forever home we have also increased the tree population in our house. We went from one short, fat fresh tree in our bay window to a giant, flocked masterpiece in our hall, two skinny flocked trees in our playroom and a grand fresh tree in the living room. When we were building our home it was my dream to have a tall snowy tree by the front door and thanks to some generous Black Friday deals a couple of years ago my dreams came true, and then some! I absolutely love transforming our home for Christmas and we have gathered up some lovely scandi style décor over the years but because we have given ourselves a fair bit of work in preparing Foxborough for Christmas we tend to do our ‘faux trees’ and decorations on one day at the end of November and then our real tree on a completely separate day during December. Two years in and I think it’s fair to call this a tradition. I love that on December 1st we wake up in a festive house, ready to start our (newly named) ‘advent-ure calendar’, also, we do like to get the most out of the work we have put in! During the second week in December we make a day of going to a Christmas Tree farm near my in-laws house and picking out the perfect tree to bring home. Our decorations on that tree have all been collected over the years, each telling their own little story of an adventure or milestone and each providing a good dose of nostalgia. Of course we have Christmas tunes, mulled wine and mince pies to help us out during the decorating process.
Throughout December our background music is always festive, our movies are always seasonal and most of our days have some sort of quality family time. Isn’t that what it’s all about? It became a tradition a few years ago to officially begin the festivities with a big family brunch at a local restaurant on Christmas Eve morning. I look forward to this all year, it’s one of the only times that we are ALL guaranteed to be together. This year however, Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, none of our local restaurants will be open for breakfast and so we have decided to host the family at Foxborough. I am more excited than ever! Not only will the whole gang descend on us for a few blissful (manic) hours but we are also going to exchange secret santa gifts that morning. I have put together some goodie bags so that the kids don’t feel left out. It’s gonna be noisy, and messy but so full of fun and laughter. We are also hosting my hubby’s wonderful family for brunch the day before (eeek that’s tomorrow)! I have a feeling that these may well become traditions too.
Christmas Eve has always been my absolute favourite part of Christmas. It is full of excitement, anticipation, smiling faces and warm hugs. From the moment we wake to the minute we hang up our stockings ready for St Nick there is such a wonderful buzz. Growing up, my Church had a Christingle Service during which the Sunday School performed the nativity, it was incredibly fun. Hubby and I moved to a wonderful new church after getting married and now we get to join our Church family singing Carols and just worshipping God and thanking him for the most precious gift on Christmas Eve. It is just the most wonderful hour! Afterwards we make our way to my parents’ house for supper before bundling up and heading home ready for our own little rituals. Susanna gets to open her Christmas Eve box in the morning so when we get home, she puts on her new pjs, hubby makes delicious hot chocolates and we curl up by the fire to read the Christmas story and of course, T’was The Night Before Christmas. Our sleepy head leaves out some treats for Santa before climbing the stairs and getting tucked into bed and hubby and I pour a glass of bubbly and wait patiently for Santa to arrive. I have a feeling that this is just going to get better and better as the years go by.
So that brings me to the big day, the highlight of the season! This year Christmas Day is going to be a little bit different for us. For the first time it will be just the three of us. We made a pact with each other years ago that when we had kids we would spend Christmas in our own home. It’s how it was for both of us and it’s what we wanted for our little ones. Our door is open to anyone who wants to join us but for one day only the car keys aren’t touched and Susanna gets to play, uninterrupted, with her toys! For the past two years my family have stayed on Christmas Eve and spent Christmas Day with us, but this year we are flying solo. Susanna is young enough that she will probably sleep until her usual time and then it will all begin; the excitement of emptying her stocking on top of our bed, tip toeing downstairs to see if Santa has gobbled up his treats before opening the doors to the living room (which are only ever shut on Christmas) and taking an apprehensive peek to see if she made it on the nice list…I have a feeling her spot is pretty secure! I am so excited for the flurry of wrapping paper, a slow indulgent breakfast with a generous helping of bucks fizz, cuddles by the tree during nap time and learning how to navigate the cooking of a Christmas dinner. Hubby and I have great plans to do very little except soak up our little one all day and then shake up some cocktails and watch movies once she goes to bed. So simple, so so magical.
Whatever your plans for Christmas, however your traditions are shaped, whoever you spend the holidays with I hope it is magical and full of love. Remember that comparison is the thief of joy, do it your way and it will be wonderful. Take your foot off the gas, the pressure off your shoulders and the burden of perfection out of your Christmas celebrations this year. Spare a thought for those who are less fortunate, the lonely, the grieving, the lost and the sick. Linger a little longer in the hugs, send that text, reconnect with that person, but leave the stress behind. Have yourself a merry little Christmas, with so much love, from our house to yours.
“This Christmas BE present, WRAP someone in a hug, send PEACE, DONATE food, BE the light!”
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace and good will to all men” Luke 2 v 14