Christmas – how has it changed for you?

There’s no doubt about it, Christmas changes with the stages in your life which can mean you like it or loathe it, look forward to it with the excitement of a child or just can’t wait for it to be over. I’m at the latter stage at the moment, compounded by working in retail which begins the festive season far too early in the year so that by the time it finally arrives, I’m a bit can we be done already?

I don’t want to be this person, I still want to be the little girl who loved the family routine at Xmas, when my great Aunt came to visit who always slept in my room, meaning I had to clean and tidy it ready for her and then share my brothers room on a camp bed for a few days. My grandparents always came to stay too, and they always brought the Xmas pudding with them.

We had ‘stockings’ (actually Xmas bags) that came out every year which were filled with little presents from Santa and my mum always put two satsumas at the bottom. We were never allowed to open these presents before 6am and definitely not allowed to wake them before 7am!

It’s one of the few times of the year that we all sat to have breakfast together in the dining room and once that was cleared, then, and only then did we all sit round the tree to begin the present opening. My mum had a book that she wrote down what everyone received so that we could write our Thank You letters as soon as (how many of us do that now). My Gran and her sister would sort out the wrapping paper and tags, those that could be used again next year and that which was rubbish. A sign of the times for them, both having been born in the 1890’s.

At 11am we would take a coffee break and that’s when we got our ‘big’ present. This would be things like a new bike, a record deck and so forth. Very different from now! I can’t tell you how excited my brother and I were when our parents bought us both a radio for Xmas; it only had a mono ear piece but come 3pm christmas day, we were plugged into commercial radio listening to anything BUT the Queen’s speech! Lunch would always be roast turkey but the christmas pudding was saved for Boxing Day.

As we got older, my brother and I used to meet friends at the pub across the road in the time between finishing opening presents and lunch being served. Time moves on of course, we both eventually left home and so Xmas changed again. Then we had children which brings a whole new meaning to the festive season.

As my brother and I don’t (and never really have) like each other, nor speak, we didn’t go to our parents for xmas, rather one year they would go to my brothers’ on xmas day and I would go to theirs boxing day; the next year, I would go to theirs xmas day (one adult, one child, much easier to travel) and my parents would spend boxing day with their son and family.

Time moves on and my father died, his last Xmas, and the only Xmas they had ever to that point been invited to my house, spent eating the biggest roast goose (which I highly recommend instead of turkey). For the next three years I tried to make mum’s christmas as fun as possible with daughter and I. Then in 2003, knowing that this would be her last christmas, she fell and I spent the day at hospital with her instead of her coming to ours for a big roast. Sadly she never came out.

For me and my daughter, that changed christmas forever. Even though we are 12 years on this year, it is still a little tainted with sadness. We both work long hours and are extremely tired by the time the 25th arrives but we get together, just the two of us, decide what we’re having – last year was steak, this year roast duck – get into our pj’s xmas eve after work and don’t emerge clothed again until we are both back at work. We will eat too much, have several bottles of prosecco, far too many choccies, snuggle in front of her log burner with the cat and watch films. It will be lovely. 🙂

In due course, when my daughter has her own family (it’s been on her life plan since she was 4!), having children around will bring a whole new angle to Xmas. Somehow, for me, Xmas is about children, I’m sure I am not alone in believing Xmas is all about family, especially the littlies. I really miss the extended family excitement of my childhood; having extra people staying in the house and guests over during the whole Xmas week, it just added to the whole vibe. It simply isn’t the same with just two of you and I know my daughter would agree.

So whilst I keep telling her she’s too young to have a family yet and joke that she has to wait until she’s 28 which is the same age I had her, secretly I can’t wait for there to be grandkids 😉

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