A lovely friend of mine asked the other day about Christmas traditions on Facebook. And, seeing as this is me and I take Christmas to epic proportions, you bet I have traditions. I absolutely love Christmas. If I could breath in mistletoe scented air, I would totally do it.
It starts the day after Thanksgiving. Christmas music starts getting played pretty much on a loop. The Christmas DVDs get pulled out. This is a must, this is like a way of being.
Advent calendars are a big thing in this house. Everyone gets the chocolate ones but me (I am not a fan of the stuff, so I have paper advent calendars). They are opened every morning to great exclamation about what shape it will be.
I am generally finished with all of my Christmas shopping by 1 December. I may have a few stocking stuffers (I give good stocking. Totally. And those terms alone are likely to get me banned from various ISPs.) My Christmas shopping is done throughout the year, squirrelled away in various hiding places, and brought out with glee and to exclamations of “Oh my god, you remembered!” I love that shit.
I always wrap presents while home alone, watching “Elf”, “Scrooged”, and “National Lampoons Christmas Vacation”. You may say to yourself that it appears to be an excessively long time taken to wrap presents, I am perhaps over-catering. No, my friend. Instead what I am saying is that I wrap presents while single-handedly demolishing a bottle of bubbly. I get licked while wrapping presents. Honestly, I get absolutely trollied. But no one has ever had such fun wrapping presents, even if they look like ass by the time I’m done with the DVDs and the booze.
I have a night out at the theatre with two of my closest friends in the world. We dress up – they wear black tie, I wear a fancy schmancy dress. We typically have a liver-cringing level of cocktails, dinner, and then we are typically the only people in black tie at the theatre but we have a brilliant time. Standing tradition, this, and it’s happening again this year.
Christmas Eve is a day of TV, family, and games. We also have lasagne (you know – as you do on Christmas Eve). It’s kind of a thing. We have vegetarian cheese and pesto lasagne, play games, and relax. There is usually wine involved.
This alcohol thing, it’s also a theme for Christmas. Come the 2nd of January we go on major detox because, frankly, we can no longer stand the smell of alcohol. We’re not stumbling around, we’re not drunk (apart from on gift wrapping night which, I admit, I generally get pretty happy. Ok, and theatre night with my mates generally results in a rough morning the next morning too, but that’s it. I swear.) but we do drink during the holidays.
On Christmas Eve the twins hang their stockings on the stair bannister upstairs. They lay out some carrots and water for the reindeer, and a mince pie and some sherry for Santa (see? Alcohol.) They go to bed quickly, as Santa can’t visit otherwise. The fact that we have not had working fireplaces over the years is of no consequence (we have wood burning stoves going in just before Christmas this year because the utilities companies are evil). Santa is magic. Santa gets in and out of the house using magic. That’s just how it is.
Christmas morning the twins check out the missing mince pie and mess the carrot has made post-reindeer consumption (I blame the booze). Then everyone piles on our beds and plows through their stockings, which must include a satsuma, gold foiled chocolate coins and a real two pence piece (the shinier the better) in every stocking. We all sit there, oohing and aahing over the stocking goodies (again, I give good stocking) and then we go downstairs.
In our house, there are no presents on Christmas Eve. That’s not how Santa rolls here. Santa leaves a giant velvet sack with one most wished for, most coveted present for each person. That’s what Santa does (and the stocking). Everything else comes from family. The twins get a few presents, we get one, then we have a giant cooked breakfast and mimosas for the grown-ups (alcohol!). Then the present unwrapping really occurs – we don’t actually have a lot of gifts as we think it’s excessive, we have a good life and don’t need things. But it doesn’t mean anyone misses out, and the rest of the day is spent watching Christmas TV, playing with the new gifts, and napping. Christmas lunch (which is what it’s called, even at 5pm) is supposed to be turkey, Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, sausages/pigs in a blanket (you know – as you do), and Christmas pudding, which is basically fruitcake you set on fire, which although fun does not disguise the fact that it’s still goddamn fruitcake. We skip all of that here (except the sprouts, which we have) and have lamb or pork, followed by something decadent but not a cake which technically does not have shelf life (although without fire it does have less of a fun factor).
Boxing Day (the 26th of December) is usually a day involving a great big family get-together involving Alastair’s family. There are arguments (I will almost certainly say something wrong even though every year I swear it will not happen), too many dogs, way too many kids, people snoozing on the sofa, and inevitably someone spends time reading the paper. We open our Secret Santa gifts (for the adults, set price range and one person only meanwhile the kids all get gifts).
And in our house, come the 27th, all the decorations come down. Christmas is done. Over. Finished. And I will miss it every day until it comes back.