Ever since I was little, there has been so many things that my family have done year in, year out that just make it feel extra Christmassy. I’m a very traditional girl. I love doing things that follow on from what my family have been doing for decades so I thought I’d share a few of the traditions I do with my family as we prepare for the big day!
1. Christmas Cake
The first tradition started when I was little and carried on until I got to about college age. My birthday always fell during the October half term so when we lived far away, my grandparents would come to visit us. We’d always get my birthday celebrations out of the way and then crack on with the Christmas cakes. I don’t know why we made Christmas cakes so early – it was something both my grandmothers taught me when I was growing up, that they taste better once everything has soaked in and ‘matured’. But we always used to make them roughly two months before Christmas.
My grandma was, and is, an amazing baker and I loved spending hours in the kitchen with her when I was growing up, making cakes and desserts. It was probably something to do with her letting me lick the spoon and bowl before we washed it up but the baking was still fun.
2. Argos Catalogues
Again, the next two follow on with one another and happened when we were younger – not so much now. But my brothers and I would start roaming through the Argos catalogues in mid-November time in prep for our wish lists to Father Christmas. My brothers’ wish lists consisted of mostly Lego and Action Men whereas mine was dolls and make up sets.
3. Letters to Santa
In the first week of December, my mum would get me and my brothers to sit around the dining table one night after school and whack some paper and pens in front of us to get us to write our letters to Santa. And boy did we go to town. Letters? They were more like novels. We would literally recite all of Toys R Us with some bad punctuation, appalling spelling and incorrect grammar thrown into the mix. Then that night, we’d put them by the fireplace and go to bed. The following morning, we’d rush down to the lounge to find the letters gone and some Christmas tree confetti in its place. My mum and dad would be there like “THE ELVES MUST HAVE COME AND GOT THEM IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!!” and we’d all go to school bragging that Santa’s elves came to our house that night.
That tradition used to go on for years until we moved house when I was about ten. We moved quite a lot when I was younger so it wasn’t unusual for us to reuse boxes from previous relocations. I was unpacking boxes in my new bedroom and saw one box had ‘Siobhan’s room’ on one side. I thought I was okay opening it as it hadn’t been crossed out – little did I know that on the other side it said ‘Loft’. I really wish I followed in my brothers’ footsteps and left their unpacking until everything else had been sorted because I opened this box up and inside was all our letters to Santa over the years and a bag of the ‘elf’ confetti. To say I was mortified would be an understatement. I don’t think I spoke to my parents for the rest of the month.
4. Christmas Tree Putting Up
The first Sunday of every December, my family and I used to get all wrapped up, drive out into the countryside with the other hundreds of thousand families to the local Christmas tree farm to pick out our chosen tree. Then we’d bring it home, having to sit in the footwell of the car or have a tree trunk jabbing into our shoulder as we’re pushed up against the window, and decorate it whilst watching ‘Elf’ which would be usually showing on Channel Five. It was magical.
5. Tracking Santa
I still do this tradition – even to this day. NORAD is the most amazing website to have ever been created. It becomes active for one day a year – Christmas Eve. And it lets you physically track Santa. You can guarantee that I will be the one who is sat there with a glass of Prosecco in one hand and some camembert in the other, randomly calling out the names of cities around the world that nobody has ever heard of because apparently Santa is there. Then as the day goes on, I’ll get more giddy (the Prosecco possibly plays a minor part in that too but it’s mainly because Santa and his reindeers are getting closer).
If you haven’t used NORAD, please do this Christmas Eve as you will not be disappointed!
6. Santa Treats
I’m not even ashamed to admit that I still do this now. Every Christmas Eve (if I remember because these years I’m a little too intoxicated with a lethal concoction of Smoked Salmon, Bailey’s and Tia Maria), I’d set out a plate by the fireplace of cookies or mince pies for Santa, a carrot for Rudolph (little unfair if you ask me as there’s nine reindeers but apparently putting out nine carrots was a ‘waste’ and my parents used to fob me off with the ‘reindeers can share’ excuse) and a glass of milk. Then we’d always come down on Christmas morning to no mince pie, a carrot with a bite out of it and an empty milky glass. It still makes me super happy the effort my parents used to go through just to make us ‘believe’. I mean, I still believe today but yeah, less magical when you wake up in the morning to an untouched plate of goodies.
I have tonnes of other traditions that we do as a family but these are my favourite – the ones which are more magical to me than any others. What traditions do you and your families have?