This week for #52Ancestors the theme is Traditions, so as its nearly Christmas I thought I would talk about some Christmas traditions that we have in my family.
Firstly, when do you put up the Christmas decorations? When we were children, we had a tradition that they went up on the 15th December, the night before my sister’s birthday. Of course nowadays that would be considered quite late, most people seem to decorate their houses about the third week in November. In the days of my childhood very few people decorated the outside of their house though. That is quite modern and I have to say I love it. Last year we visited Westfield in East Sussex with my brother and sister in law and two nephews, it was rather spectacular. The whole village go right over the top decorating the whole village, all for charity.
What traditions do you have on Christmas Day itself? Do you go to Church every year? When do you open your presents? We have had temporary traditions for opening presents depending on where we were. When we were children we would have a pillowcase at the end of the bed which we would open as soon as we woke up. I don’t think it was ever that early, but my parents may disagree! We used to spend Christmas Day with my maternal grandparents, I think we would go to them up at Punnetts Town and Granny would cook Christmas Dinner. I don’t remember when we would open presents with them but I presume after dinner, it was just easier once the dinner is out of the way.
Then when my grandparents died, and my sister had her three children, Christmas was often at their house or my parent’s, or sometimes my brother’s when he moved into Beechcroft. Present opening was always after dinner and after the dogs had been walked round the Windmill at Punnetts Town. Later on as my nephew and two nieces became teenagers, they didn’t want to go for a walk and so we would stop behind while the others went for a walk and my nephew would put all the presents into piles ready for opening and I would half heartedly try to stop him from guessing what his were! I don’t think any were surreptitiously opened.
Nowadays we are in the second flush of young children, with my brother’s two nephews and Christmas is always at their house, Beechcroft. Presents are opened after dinner. We have never really been avid watchers of the Queen’s Christmas Day Speech, but this year I would like to see King Charles make his debut. Do you watch it?
We usually put out a Christmas tea about 5 or 6ish but nobody is usually very enthusiastic about eating much. I think it is mainly for the two boys to make sure they don’t go hungry. You know what children are like, they haven’t usually eaten much Christmas dinner, unlike the adults! Christmas dinner itself has always been about all taking part in the making for my family, starters are usually my thing. We often make a chicken liver pate, or in the past when Delia Smith was the ‘thing’ I attempted her Goats Cheese tarts. I remember my other half trawling cook shops in East Sussex for baking beans, I hadn’t realised I needed to bake the cases blind until the morning I was making them. If I remember correctly, they were actually quite good. We have never been able to have the family to our house for Christmas Day as it is just too small although I always wanted the opportunity to host the day.
Lastly a fairly new tradition we have is that Boxing Day is no longer Boxing Day, it is Henry’s birthday tea. I’m not sure how much longer this tradition will remain before he doesn’t want to have tea with the family and would prefer to go out down the pub with his mates, well actually that is still some years off, but the way the years pass, it will soon be upon us! Then I imagine the adults will snooze for the afternoon in front of the TV.
Each generation seem to make their own traditions, some that stick and some that do not. I wonder how many of the traditions of my childhood came from the traditions of my grandparents own Christmases. They change as fashions change and generations come and go but fundamentally in our family Christmas is about family, being together and appreciating each other and enjoying company together to celebrate a day which to my family has always been special as it is the day we celebrate the birth of Christ. Long may that remain! Happy Christmas everybody!