I'm a big lover of traditions, especially the family kind that have real history and lots of memories behind them. Christmas always brings out the nostalgic side of me and I love the comfort and happiness I get from carrying out old traditions
I have lots of festive traditions which began with my family years ago but I also have some new ones that I've started myself in recent years. I enjoy them all and I love the routine of them - they are part of the reason I look forward to Christmas
My family always made an event of decking the tree. We'd pick a Friday night and we'd light a fire and listen to Christmas songs whilst putting up the tree, lights, and other decorations. I remember these nights with great fondness, everyone was so happy. We had two little West Highland terriers, Max and Leo, and we'd wrap tinsel around their necks and dance with them. They would go for their Christmas bath and haircut the week before Christmas and they would always come back with big red and green bows around their necks then too!
My sister and I would always be allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve, chosen by our mum as it was always a new pair of pyjamas. We'd have an early bath and sit in front of the fire wearing our new PJs and eating mince pies whilst watching Christmas TV
When we were little, before the days of video cameras, my parents used to record our Christmas mornings on a tape deck. We have our pre-video Christmases on cassette tapes and I'm looking forward to sharing them with my children one day. We always spent Christmas Day at home with various family visiting throughout the day. Sometimes my parents would hide Christmas gifts around the house for us to find throughout the day - I remember one year lifting my table mat to find a folder containing details of a pony they'd adopted for me from a local horse sanctuary, that pretty much made my year!
My mum would cook a huge roast turkey with all the trimmings and my dad's parents would usually come and have dinner with us. At tea time we'd have a cold buffet, which my sister liked to prepare, and we'd all be absolutely stuffed but there was always room for pudding. At some point we'd all get wrapped up in coats, hats, scarfs and mittens and take the dogs out for a walk, wearing their bows or tinsel of course
Things changed after my mum died and Christmas at home was never quite the same, although we all did our best to make it enjoyable it was as if the shine had disappeared from it. There was no getting away from the gaping hole that had been left at the centre of our family and it just felt sad. Of course it's got much easier now that so much time has passed and we've started new traditions of our own but I don't think Christmas will feel right again until the next generation come along and are old enough to make Christmas all about them
We're one of those new-fangled 'blended families' now as we have my soon-to-be-stepmum and her grown up children (and grandchildren) in our little circle too, which makes quite a number of us. We've all had Christmas together a few times but it's incredibly hectic having 16 or so people in one house, you don't feel like you really get to speak to everyone properly and it's catering on a massive scale! Last year Matt and I had Christmas alone together at home and that didn't feel right either. I feel like I'm still trying to find out what Christmas should be like now and I haven't quite found it yet
The year before I met Matt, my best friend Liz was house sitting over Christmas so I took Jessie and went along with her. We spent Christmas Eve in a hot tub sipping champagne and later, watching films in front of a roaring fire. The next day we put our Christmas dinner into huge bloomer sandwiches which we devoured like animals!
Do you have any Christmas traditions?