Thursday, 25 December 2014

Doing Christmas Properly.

Growing up, we did Christmas properly of course.

We children would wake up early and eagerly peer down to the bottom of the bed to see what Father Christmas had brought us. Father Christmas, you note; never Santa.

We could play quietly with our new acquisitions until half past seven when it was Time To Get Up. Breakfast was at nine sharp: boiled eggs; and then we were allowed to open one present from a school friend before church.

Christmas Day Lunch was served promptly at twelve thirty (my mother usually had some kind of nervous breakdown at eleven forty-five) and was the Proper Turkey followed by Proper Christmas Pudding. The bottle of rum had its annual outing to flavour the sauce.

At three we would all sit and watch the Queen in solemn silence and only after her majesty had finished speaking could we all open presents, in strict rotation, carefully folding the wrapping paper to be used again.

Then there was Christmas Tea with Christmas Cake and Mince Pies (all these home made by my martyred mother of course) then a film on television and then bed.

We lived with my Grandfather, you see. He had been born in the last century, was a Lancashire Puritan (it's what Scottish Puritans aspire to become when they graduate) and was very strict.

Imagine my surprise, when I was first married and found out that other families Do Things Differently. Other families start the day with champagne and smoked salmon; other families gleefully rip open every single present before breakfast in one great maelstrom of shredded wrapping paper; other families have their dinner in the evening; they have beef instead of turkey; some families don't even watch the Queen!

Gradually, over the years, I have relaxed my stance on Christmas traditions. We do now open all our presents in the morning; this year we're having beef brisket with shallots and tangerines because it will travel well the hundred miles to the in-laws. I've learned that the best Christmas traditions are flexible and adapt to circumstances.

My husband would rather have beans on toast than see me having a nervous breakdown over Christmas lunch (and he doesn't even like beans). He'd rather have a relaxing day than all the bangs and whistles.

I've learned that you can keep traditions, break traditions and make new traditions with Christmas, while still keeping its true meaning.

So we still go to church to hear the Christmas story and yes, I still make them all watch the Queen.

So A Happy and Relaxed Christmas to you, your Majesty and to all your subjects too! (And indeed to you all, wherever you are in the world.)

Mary and The Moodscope Team