Christmas is a family time for most of us: a time to get together and enjoy being together. It is the time when the old traditions are vital to take us through the day and to avoid the usual arguments that are bound to surface as new family members are added to the mix.
The rituals of the day vary from household to household and the timings of these have to be carefully observed.
- When do you open the presents? If you have children this is probably the most important question.
- When do you put the turkey in the oven? Timings for dinner have to start early if you have a large bird and there is most likely a strict schedule for the catering.
- Do you have breakfast? This usually hinges on what time you are eating the main meal.
- When do you have the first alcoholic drink?
- When do you have lunch, or will it be dinner?
- Queens’s speech at the right time or iPlayer (actually iPlayer could prevent a lot of arguments during the day.
- Who washes up?
- Who is allowed to go to sleep? And who wants to go for a walk?
- What games do you play?
- What time is tea/supper and what do you always have?
- Who always seems to finish off the sherry?
- Who looks after granny/uncle/auntie etc
The list could go on and on but I am sure you have your own questions and answers. Quite an important one is “Did you keep the receipt?” after the present opening.
Every family must have their own special traditions and as you marry and raise your own family the rituals change and adapt so I am interested to know how many of us keep the same traditions.
I was brought up on a farm in a family of two loving parents and three close sisters. Our father was a great believer in traditions and he was one of a large family so already there were strict rules about how Christmas was organised.
Our mother was a wonderful home-maker and loved cooking and baking and always made her own puddings and treats. As we grew up and got married she still always made each of us our own pudding so it was not until she died that I had to make my own. Now I don’t bother and buy one from the supermarket!
Mother made sweets and petit fours, planted flowering bulbs ready for scenting the house at Christmas, cooked her own ham and make dozens of mince pies. Every Christmas day she was ill with bronchitis as she had worked herself into exhaustion. But each year the table was groaning with a massive turkey, bread sauce, chipolatas and every vegetable she could lay her hands on and nothing had ever seen the inside of a freezer. The dining table was fully extended and if someone in the village was known to be on their own an invitation to share was always extended.
We visited all the farm workers houses after church and my Dad has a whisky in each one. Mum would meet us at the last house to round us all up to go home for lunch that she had been cooking since the early hours.
Nearly every year was the same and continued even after we had our own children. When Mum died our father expected his girls to carry on the same way, but it could never be the same.
Most of our Christmas traditions followed the calendar of the Church with decorations not being put up until the third week of Advent. A trailer load of holly was delivered for the Church decorations and our house, which was conveniently next door. Dad went up the ladder to decorate the tops of all the large windows with holly and lametta: always the same.
Let us know what makes your family Christmas Day special and if the traditions have been handed down through the generations, of if you have made you own when your children were born.
by Tina Foster, deputy editor