We each have our little family traditions which we carry on from year to year, especially at this time of year, but also at other times such as birthdays. As children, we were always excited to see the Christmas tree arrive, usually on Christmas eve, but the idea of stir-up Sunday was unknown to us, the Sunday that Christmas puddings are made… in fact although my mum was a wonderful cook, I don’t remember her making her own puddings, but maybe she did.
We didn’t have a pillowcase full of presents, we had stockings, and there was nothing so exciting as waking up on Christmas morning and stretching toes down the bed and feeling the weight of the stocking filled by Santa across the bottom of the bed. Our stockings would only have little things in, a sugar mouse, some pencils, a note-book, a tangerine, a few nuts and some bright new pennies. Bigger presents would come later, they were under the tree in the sitting room, and dad would give them out. he always got up early, every day, not just Christmas, so the fire would be blazing and it would be lovely and warm – we didn’t have central heating in those days!
When i married and had children we continued those traditions, but new things crept in; I always saved up and bought the children new clothes so they would have a new outfit for Christmas Day. I also made our Christmas pudding (still without stir-up Sunday, but everyone did have a stir and make a wish when I made it), and made mincemeat and cake as well. Although we lived in the north in Oldham, we always came down to the west country for the holiday, and as well as us, my dad and sister, we had an aunty and uncle, my mother-in-law and four friends for Christmas lunch. The friends would do all the vegetables, my aunty and uncle would provide the turkey, and we would do everything else.
Now there are just the four of us, but now a new little tradition has crept in over the last couple of years; we still have stockings filled with little gifts, but when we come downstairs and sit round the tree father Christmas, looking remarkably like my husband wearing a Santa onesie, distributes the gifts.
No doubt in the future some things will stay the same and new things will arrive, maybe more friends for Christmas lunch, maybe a new routine… One thing i’m sure of though, Christmas will always be a special time in our family!