I am so full of festive spirit at the moment. I know there is often a great divide at this time of year, when it comes to exactly when you should celebrate it. But I am always an early starter. I can’t help myself. I feel the sides of my mouth start to curl into a happy grin. And I enjoy watching Christmas creep into our world once more.
It’s just such a magical feeling for me. I can feel it stirring in my tummy, beside this baby boy that I am growing. I find myself growing giddy and excited. And really, it’s just not about the gifts for me. Of course there are things I’d like and things I’d enjoy. But it’s just about love. That Love Actually feeling. The pleasure I take in making my loved ones smile.
As a child, Christmas was full of rosy-cheeked magic and I’d be excited from the very moment I heard my first Christmas song. I remember traipsing round shops, wearing a hat, scarf and mittens, and trying to catch snowflakes on my tongue. I remember singing carols in church and trying my best to stay awake in hope that I’d get to meet a real reindeer – and Father Christmas too, of course.
The older I got, the more it became about making my friends and family smile. Painstakingly wrapped gifts. Perfectly chosen presents. A card for everyone I could think of. But the magic was lost a little. I knew Father Christmas wasn’t real now, after all.
But then, when I became a mum, Christmas was the most exciting thing in the world. Bill was just six months old when he experienced his very first Christmas. December 2012. I planned so many things that a six month-old could never appreciate. But still, I tried my best to make it special for him.
When I first became a mother to Bill I promised myself – and, I suppose I promised him too, in a way – that I would be a magical mother. I wanted to make magic for my kids, that’s what I mean. I wanted to have little traditions and things to look forward to as they grew up.
And I think, like most families, we have a lot of Christmas traditions as a result of that.This year, Bill will be the grand old age of five. And Daisy will be 20 months. Almost two! And I have a lot of things in store for them. So here are our family Christmas traditions…
The obvious ones
Now, there are a few that I feel like I should mention, just so I don’t miss them out. But they are all pretty obvious ones.
- We always leave treats out for Father Christmas – a mince pie, a carrot and a glass of something nice!
- We do advent calendars – your basic chocolate ones, and then a toy one to do between both kids.
- We do Christmas cards – we have some gorgeous ones from John Lewis this year, and then some that Bill made at school.
- We bring out the Christmas books – I have a good collection in my five years of being a mother, so these are always read throughout December, before bed.
- Christmas stockings – not everyone does them, I know, but we do. I love the excitement of seeing the kids reach inside, and these are always gifts from the big man in red, himself. And I spend a lot of time on these, because I want them to think that he really knows them and cares (a stocking filler video for both Bill and Daisy will be going live on my YouTube Channel during December if you are curious!).
A new decoration every year
Possibly the most special thing for me is the new decoration that my two get every year. From the outset, I have collected a special decoration every year, that means something, so that when my children grow-up and leave home, they have their own collection to put on their Christmas tree.
This is something my mum and dad have taken to joining in with too. And Daisy got her very first Christmas decoration – a tiny gold bauble with her name written on it – before she was even born!
Putting up the decorations
When it comes to adorning our house with tinsel, I am a 1st December kind of girl. I’d go earlier if I could. But I like to start alongside advent calendars and socially-acceptable Christmas music. I find decorating our house for Christmas to be a spectacle. We take our time over it and make it ‘a thing’.It starts with a trip to the garage.
Dragging out the old tree that we were given second-hand. And unearthing my collection of Christmas decorations, which I treasure so much. Some are from my childhood, given to me by my parents. Some are personalised, like the gingerbread family ornament we bought from the Manchester Christmas Markets, which actually spells my name wrong, but, because it was Christmas, we didn’t have the heart to ask for a new one, so I shall forever be known as ‘Chalotte’ on that one.
Every year, I buy more. I know I probably shouldn’t. But I can’t help myself. My favourite place to go for decorations is either John Lewis, or our local garden centre. If you like that sort of thing – I have a haul going up on my YouTube Channel this week, so keep an eye out!
Our Christmas playlist
Call Mark and I sad, but we have our own Spotify Playlist called Christmas Tay (ah the things you can do with a surname like Taylor). We started adding to it over the first Christmas we spent together, so a lot of it brings back those early memories and I find myself welling up a lot.
We play this non-stop every year – now on our Google Home (I’m obsessed) – and it is always on when we are doing the Christmas tree too. We all dance about and feel merry and it’s just lovely. Mark does a rather cracking Chris Rea impression too – Driving Home for Christmas always makes me well-up.
Christmas Ham Day at my parents’ house
Every year, at least since Bill was born, my parents have had the whole family round for a Christmas Ham. This year it’ll be on the 9th December, and we all get merry and eat our fill, and it completely sets me up for Christmas. I get a little teaser of what’s to come on Christmas Day, and I love it. Plus, my parents are amazing cooks and I always come away looking like a Christmas pudding myself. Even more so this year, as my tummy is getting so big now I’m 24 weeks pregnant!
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
Every year, without fail, I read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas to my babies on Christmas Eve before they go to bed. It’s a special story, one that everyone knows, and it’s pretty magical I think. I love the suspense of it, and how it captures that Christmas feeling for me, the one that I remember as a child. I hope it’s something that will continue through our family, long after I am gone.
Father Christmas and his sleigh
In our village, for as long as I remember, it has been customary to watch a car pull along a brightly lit sleigh. Riding atop of it will be a local man, dressed as Father Christmas, and children will come out of their houses, usually in Christmas pyjamas, and tell him what they want for Christmas. He will give them a treat of a little sweet, and meanwhile, us parents will well up and donate money towards a local charity or cause.Once upon a time, the child on Father Christmas’s knee was me. The same sleigh. The same way. But now I am the emotional parent. The minute the dates are released, I get excited. And it really means a lot to me that we see him ride by every year.
Christmas cooks and Christmas books
Every year, something happens to me when Christmastime rolls around. I seem to believe that I am now Nigella, and I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I have a collection of Christmas recipe books, that I take out every December, and I read them all, flicking through slowly, usually with a glass of Prosecco or two (it’ll have to be Schloer this year!). I find it so therapeutic and something that is just for me. I always make festive sausage rolls from scratch, and I make a mean Christmas cocktail too.
The Christmas movies
I don’t think that this one is anything new, but we all have our favourites. I have to watch The Muppets Christmas Carol, The Holiday, Love Actually and Home Alone for it to feel like Christmas. We watched the Muppets this weekend and it was amazing to just curl up as a family of four and watch it together, eating snacks, on a cosy Sunday afternoon.
Christmas Eve pyjamas
I buy the kids a new set of pyjamas every year. I used to save them for Christmas Eve, but then I realised that they didn’t get as much wear out of them if they were festive themed, so now I get a new pair each year, around December, and they always go to bed in them on Christmas Eve and I have to admit, a new pair usually finds its way to me too! Funny that!
Christmas Eve, just us
We often spend Christmas Day and subsequent days, with as many family members as we can. Because that’s what Christmas is about. But, especially as we coparent and share Bill over the holidays, we take the time to spend Christmas Eve, or the day before if Bill is with his dad, as a foursome (a fivesome next year!). We have a cosy day in together, and watch Christmas movies, and snuggle up. We prepare the treats for Father Christmas and his reindeer, and we soak each other up. And then, we head out for a nice meal, somewhere local, just us four.
We raise a toast to each other and spend some time together and eat nice food and relax, and it’s become something special that I look forward to every year. Sure, there won’t be any cocktails for me this time, but it will be worth it to welcome our baby boy in March next year.
So that’s our Christmas traditions. I just have to hope that December hurries up and gets here soon. I am so desperate for them to begin!