In Her Real Family Christmas, Stephanie Scott never really gets Christmas… until she meets Daniel Connor. Which kind of makes me feel a bit greedy, because of the amount of times I celebrate Christmas in December (unlike my poor heroine!).
And yes, I know it’s only supposed to be once.
But my closest family live near London, and my best friends live in London and Manchester, so we don’t get to see them at Christmas. Some years ago now, we instituted the tradition of having ‘early Christmas’ so that we do get to share the Christmas spirit… just not on the actual day.
In practice, this means that I get to celebrate Christmas every single weekend in December. (One of those weekends means going out with my husband’s best friends and their wives to a very nice foodie pub, and for once I don’t do the cooking – but the men are really, really busy this December so we’re rescheduling it for January.)
We have Christmas dinner (cooked by me) with all the trimmings, including those lovely little sausages wrapped in bacon. (But not Christmas pudding. Ick, ick, ick. Instead, we have a choice of fresh fruit salad – pineapple, strawberries and pomegranates – or cheesecake. And cheese and crackers – with celery, walnuts and grapes. And posh chocolates to go with the coffee.) The dog gets his share, too.
We have crackers and silly hats.
We have a present from Santa (aka me) to unwrap over coffee. I’ve played it safe for rather too long, giving the men beer and the women chocolate. This year, my daughter helped me choose the Santa pressies and we, um, had a lot of fun in the shop that sells totally crazy stuff. (And we bought chocolate roulette – you spin the wheel and pick the chocolate. If you’re lucky, it’s a nice one. If you’re not… it’s the chilli covered in chocolate!)
We play board games all afternoon (and we change the rules, too – like playing Monopoly backwards). We have Christmas songs on the playlist (and sing them together while we’re sorting out the bits that can’t go in the dishwasher). Sometimes we can talk my daughter into playing the guitar for us. We laugh a lot and talk a lot, and usually by Monday morning I don’t have a voice.
And you know what? December’s a tough month for me, because it marks the anniversary of both my parents’ deaths. But having Christmas every weekend makes December a lot easier for me to cope with, because I’m sharing happiness and making good memories with the people I love.
So what are your Christmas traditions? And what are you looking forward to most, this year?