Holiday Celebrations

How many Christmases? by Kate Hardy

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?


26 thoughts on “How many Christmases? by Kate Hardy”

  1. For years my husband and I celebrate Christmas on Boxing Day with my sister and her family. It will be a hard Christmas this year as my brother in law passed away in July. Christmas Eve and Day are quite often spent at my brother’s place depending on whether or not he is on call. Then we see my husband’s sister on January 4th for her birthday.

  2. Kate, I like your idea of a rolling feast for the whole month of December! Wicked! And I did laugh at your “ick, ick, ick” for the Christmas pudding! If it’s plum pudding then I feel very “ick” about it too! I’m interested in knowing more about the little bacon-wrapped sausages…

    We’re in a similar position to Kaelee – my brother-in-law also passed away in the middle of this year and this is the first Xmas. So it’s going to be tough, especially for my hubby and his mum. I’m thinking that we might try to tweak the traditions this year so that it’s not so obvious that we’re missing one… or maybe I shouldn’t because it would be a way to remember and talk…

  3. Your month of Christmases sounds wonderful, Kate. I won’t get to see my son this year, since he’s back in North Carolina, but I will have my daughter nearby. Unfortunately, her husband is a resident at county hospital – being the second year resident doctor on staff, he gets stuck working all of the holidays. She cooked Thanksgiving, and he didn’t even get to be there with us! She had to take him a plate later that night. Who says doctors are spoiled?
    Anyway – we always attend a Christmas Eve candlelight service at our church and go out to dinner. On Christmas we open presents and if we’re lucky we share a special dinner at our house with family. Hubby has already put in a request for something simple instead of another turkey or prime rib. All he wants is ravioli with artichoke and a few other things. Sounds fine to me! At this stage in life, simple is better. Fingers crossed I’ll have my revisions done by then!

    Wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas, Kate!

    1. The candlelight service sounds wonderful, Lynne! Last year we managed to catch some of the carol service in Norwich Cathedral, and it was just magical. The music, an enormous tree, the scent of pine, candles, and all the beautiful architecture. Ravioli with artichoke sounds glorious! Good luck with those revs. And wishing you a very, very happy Christmas too xxx

  4. Hugs for this bittersweet time of year, Kate. And for Kaelee and Sharon. For us it will be our 3rd Christmas without mum and while that’s easier than it was I think it will always just feel…. less.
    For us though its a time of birthdays too, which gives the season a different focus (and added expense!!!) – mine, hubby’s and my daughter who will be sweet sixteen.

    I am however distraught that you’re not a Xmas pudding girl. What? Say it isn’t so? I make sure there is ALWAYS space for plum pud – usually cooked by me – with lashings of hot custard. And I don’t care that its 40 degrees outside, its just not Christmas for me without it!

    This year we will all be spending Christmas day at my brothers lovely new house on the Bay with his lovely new baby – nothing but eating, drinking, laughing,reminiscing, toasting and giving thanks for health, happiness and family xxx

    1. Hugs back atcha, Amy – it’s three years tomorrow since Dad died, so I know what you mean. Happy birthday to you, M and C (I can’t believe she’s going to be 16!!! Where did the time go?) But no no no no no to Christmas pud. I want nice exotic fresh fruit. (Yes to the custard, though. I lurrrrve custard.) And how fab to spend Christmas with a new baby. Have a wonderful, wonderful time xxx

  5. I put up my Christmas cards up that were the last ones sent by my dad nearly ten years ago. We visit my mum and then one weekend nip down to see hubby’s bother. Then just spend Christmas just us and the kids till they decide they have had enough and want to go and party as two are old enough to go pub crawling.

    1. Charl, that’s so lovely that you still have your dad’s last card. Our teens are still a little too young to want to go out to party (and I think son is going to be tired out this year because of his Friday evening/Saturday job – will be his first Christmas on the tills, and I reckon it’s going to be a busy one). Hope you have a great one xxx

      1. You too Kate 🙂 If my trip into town was anything to go by the shops will be rammed up until Christmas. So your son will definitely be kept busy. xxx

        1. Same here – I couldn’t believe the queue in Game at 11.15, and by the time I came out 45 minutes later the queue was twice as long and coming out of the door. Eeep. Anything else we need is going to be done online 🙂 xxx

  6. I LOVE Christmas every weekend! Love it. Of course I’m also one of those people who celebrates her birthday for an entire month!

    I also love your chocolate roulette! LOL

    Happy Christmas, Kate!

    susan meier

    1. Well, hey, birthdays have to be celebrated for an entire month, too (same reason as Christmas – and I’d rather have lots of little celebrations so I get to spend a decent amount of time with people than a big party where I get about 30 seconds to say hello and that’s it). The chocolate roulette will be fun! Happy Christmas to you, too, Susan xxx

  7. The thing I am most looking forward to this year is my mum being out of hospital and coming to spend Christmas with us, She has been the one to cook at Christmas for several family members (not us we do our own Christmas with our girls,we invite others round to watch them opening their presents and toast Christmas but not for the main Christmas meal) for too many years to count, but as she has been through so much herself this year I have persuaded her that she should come to us and we will do it all this time. Not sure what she will be able to eat but I’m sure we will sort something out. 🙂

  8. How much fun, Kate. Our Christmas is still pretty traditional but I see that changing as the kids marry and we have to share them. We go to both parents’ houses to eat and do presents. We also host the kids at ours early on Christmas morning. We are on the go all the time.

  9. I’m late to the party! And now that there is such a strong opinion about Christmas Pudding, I am going to have to look it up and figure out exactly what that is.

    It’s nearly time for the great FUDGE EXPLOSION… around here. That traditional two-day event where so many batches of fudge are made to give to… everyone in the county, I think. Oodles of the stuff, which of course being a chocolate fiend I love, but my arms like it less. (Beating it to get the creamy consistency=arm workout)

    My arms want to know: Is Christmas Pudding easier to make? Does it go in a decorative tin well? 🙂

    1. Ooh, Amalie – I love fudge! Christmas pudding is basically a very rich steamed sponge pudding containing loads and loads of fruit (more even than in a traditional Christmas cake). It’s really heavy and stodgy, and it’s universally loathed in our house 😉 You wouldn’t have to do so much beating, but all the steaming and the hassle… I think your fudge would make a much nicer pressie!

  10. A month of Christmasses sounds lovely! This year my sister is coming to visit with her hubby and 4 yr old son- so we are doing the Santa Claus thing and I’m ridiculously over excited already!

    My sis has asked for pavlova for dessert, in true Kiwi fashion, but there will definitely be a small christmas pud on the side for me (as I’m the only one who likes it and Christmas isn’t Christmas without it) with lashings of custard!
    Wishing you and yours a very happy time, Kate!

    1. Louisa, that’s going to be fabulous – having little kids in the house makes Christmas really special. (We’ve been re-running some of the video from Christmas past, and it’s so cute seeing my daughter dressing up like a ballerina and my son making complicated models and looking so proud of himself. Not to mention long-gone spaniels leaping about in the snow…) Pavlova is a big favourite in our house – I’m with your sis, there 🙂 Have a wonderful time xxx

  11. Kate, hugs to you and everyone else who’s missing someone special this Christmas.

    Sharing the happiness over the whole month of December sounds just wonderful! I’m definitely with the Christmas Pudding fans – one of my favourite things at Christmas. In fact we’ve been trying out little puddings to see which we like best already. All strictly in the name of research, of course 🙂

  12. I’m late, Kate! A month of Christmases sounds like fun. Our big tradition is to open one present on Christmas eve. Our kids always loved that because it gave them a taste of what was to come. Oh, and the food. We love our Christmas meal! Have fun celebrating, Kate!

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