The trouble with coming in so late to an event such as this is it has mostly been said. We’ve heard the spectrum from bah humbuggers to deck the hallsers – though none were very rampant – and have all most politely agreed that Christmas is as Christmas does; that one is at liberty to shape one’s own festivities whether that includes saluting the Queen or necking a bottle of Baileys (or both, or neither). I get the impression the traditional family rows and tensions – and Christianity – have gone out of fashion, though perhaps that is 11 months of fading memories for the former, which might feature more prominently in a Boxing-day post, and Uborka self-selection for the latter.
We are a family of late decorators. By inclination (I love Christmas but have no desire for it to last 6 weeks) and upbringing (one teenage Christmas saw replacement windows fitted on the 24th), but all the more so since the birth of our youngest daughter 4 years ago today. I remember trying to get to Boots for a last minute TENS machine, between contractions, on the last Saturday before Christmas, then sitting dazed and newborn on the sofa as the tree was put up on her first day in the world. Now we definitely have a reason to decorate late, to keep celebrations separate. And a complete bonus to so doing was scoring a free tree yesterday as the school was trying to find theirs a home. All those people whose trees have been up since November are sorry now.
My granny’s birthday was Christmas Day and she always felt cheated despite our best attempts at separate presents and non-seasonal paper. This will be our first Christmas without her but I think we will all quietly raise a sprout, which she loved, and hum Hellesveor, which never failed to bring a tear to her eye, and wish her a happy birthday.
Can I include a grainy but very precious photo of 10-day-old Jenny at her great-grandmother’s 90th birthday party (not held on her actual birthday for obvious reasons)?
Some signs of impending yuletide do encroach. There is our very Pinteresty advent calendar which I absolutely adore. MIL sewed fabric pockets for Maggie (now 9)’s first Christmas: I don’t remember what was in them that first year – we had moved back from Japan about a week before the big day (no decorations that year either) – but Cameron came home from Hamburg’s market the second year with a bag full of small wooden ornaments, which we hang one by one on beautiful twigs in a vase.
I can easily ignore the fact that the vase is surrounded by detritus and clutter and feel quite Martha Stewart when I admire it. For 2 years now we have also had a Christmas story advent calendar with tiny books to be removed every day. (And, as it would be foolhardy to have two calendars with three children, we also have playmobil pirates.)
Ham for Christmas breakfast is my dad’s tradition, going back to a very rural early childhood, when the family pig would be slaughtered. Much to the bemusement of other visitors who think I don’t see them eyeing in the marmalade: live and let live does not extend to weetabix on Christmas Day. I will cook a turkey this year for the first time in several years. When I say I will cook I intend to stand about slightly ineptly until my dad takes over (oh no really it’s fine I can do it you sit down…oh ok then) and as he likes a turkey, turkey it is. Personally I like it best when it is just the five of us and we can have a nice big duck with damsin gin in gravy and chef.
One last tradition that I think is just ours. We like to keep each year’s Christmas tree, seasoning and weathering or whatever the term is (it does quite resemble lying forgotten at the back of the shed) over the course of the year, then cut it to burn the following Christmas. We do not refer to it as a Yule Log.