I wrote this blog two years ago when I first started blogging. I have edited it slightly and put in some pictures. I hope you enjoy my story about traditions as Christmas.
Yes, it’s that time of year. I love it. Once December comes the radio starts playing all the old Christmas favorites. Fairytale in New York, Driving home for Christmas. Once I hear these songs, it’s official – Christmas has begun. Just now as I am typing this piece, the tune ‘Walking in the air’ from the ‘Snowman’ has just come on the radio. That song can send chills down your back.
Preparations are under way; the ingredients are bought for the pudding and the cake. There is something nostalgic about mixing the pudding and before putting it into the bowls to steam, THE WISH. Yes, I can still remember as a kid this tradition and the smell of the pudding mix and the all important WISH. Three stirs with the wooden spoon and if you were the last to stir, you got to lick the spoon …yum. And the smell of the ham cooking on Christmas Eve is a lovely comforting smell in a way. When it is done you just have to have a small taste with a slice of fresh bread. There is nothing nicer than coming down the stairs as a kid on Christmas morning and the smell of a turkey roasting in the oven.
Christmas is all about seeing. smelling, tasting, listening and touch. All the senses are given a treat this month. Another memory as a kid was coming back from a visit to the grandparents or a shopping trip in early December and wishing to be the one to spot the first house with the Christmas tree up. It would be just getting dark and the curtains in the front room ‘the good room’ would still be open to show off the tree all lit up.
Christmas shopping is started, party season has begun, and the tree will be put up soon. I enjoy trimming the tree. I always put on Christmas music and then walk to the local shops to pick out a real tree. I love the smell of a real Christmas tree in the house. For years when the kids were small we would all go and carry it back together, now they are making their own memories with their families.
My favorite part of Christmas is just before midnight on Christmas Eve, having finished preparations for the big day ahead when I sit down with carols playing softly in the background, only the tree lights are on, a glass of wine, my ham sandwich and the smell of cooking in the air. If you could bottle this and sell it, the magic of Christmas could be with you whenever you need it.
There has been a change in the Christmas morning traditions over the years as I left the family home and started my own family of three children. Some of the traditions are consistent such as meeting up with my siblings and their families after Mass at my parents home to exchange gifts, have a few nibbles and wish each other well. The grandchildren have increased over the years and they all love to throw the gift wrapping paper in a pile in the middle of the room as soon as they receive a gift. Now there are great-grandchildren enjoying the fun. The pile gets higher and higher and when all the presents have been given among the family all the kids jump into the paper for a photo. There have been some great ones over the years, some very young babies lying among Christmas wrapping paper with their cousins. Before the clean up, there is the Christmas kiss under the tree. Nanny and Granddad, now Great Nanny and Great Granddad also kissed a long time ago one Christmas morning and this has been the case ever since. Another photo for the memories. Everyone goes their own way after that with some of the family staying for dinner with my parents.
It does not matter who goes to dinner on Christmas day. We have taken turns over the years; I was the lucky one for a number of years as my children were the first grandchildren, my siblings now take it in turns to join Mam and Dad at their dinner table. On St. Stephens Day we all, yes all of us again to back to our parent’s house late in the afternoon. This is considered the highlight of the Christmas by all of the grandchildren. We all tuck into a great feast on tables that are joined together so nobody is left out. Stories are told, jokes are shared and then when dessert is finished the grandchildren put on their show. They have been practicing for the week before and it is lovely to see. The old sing-song follows after that and we all do a turn. It gets way past the young children’s bedtime and soon everyone must go to their own homes.
Memories are made at this time of year and even those as young as 6, 7 and 8 are beginning to recognize family traditions at Christmas time. This Christmas morning will be a quiet one when we wake up as no one else will be running down the stairs to see what is under the tree for them except just the two of us. Another stage in life and a new memory and a new tradition will be born no doubt. This is a special time for family and may there be many many more to come.