Roses on Christmas Day

A flaming sunrise on Christmas Eve is not a sight that I had anticipated seeing this year. We (me, my mum and Rachel) raced the sunrise into Banbury for a “New Tradition” of coffee and breakfast, and a bit of a wander around town before coming back home to initiate the ritual of Decorating The Christmas Tree.

In our family, the tree is always a real one and it is always decorated on Christmas Eve. I remember that we always begged and begged to be allowed to decorate it sooner but our stompy feet and whiny cries were always denied and a Christmas Eve tradition it remained. It has to be said, there is nothing, nothing like the feeling of calm, contemplation and anticipation that you get when you sit in the living room with just the tree lights on, gazing at the tree and knowing right through to your bones that Christmas Day is TOMORROW. One year we did decorate it on the 23rd and it just was not the same. I know I did my tiny little tree here in my house last weekend but its not the same because I don’t consider it to be a “real” Christmas Tree and we left to travel home on the 22nd. I hope to continue the Christmas Eve decorating tradition in the future.

The lights always go on first. We do one set of coloured lights and one set of white; I like the ones with petals on them because they look bigger and brighter on the tree. Next are the decorations; it’s always a bit of a free for all at this point although the four of us have become kinder and better behaved over the years ;-) All our tree decorations are stored in this big yellow box. It’s the box from the Duplo Zoo that one of us (can’t remember who) got given for Christmas when we were tiny. The decorations are Just Right: they all have memories attached to them and barely any of them match. We’re all very sentimental about them.

Rachel’s favourites are the Fat Angels, and my favourite is Domino the horse. I picked him out at a craft fair when I was about 3 years old; I remember it to this day and he was the only one with a bell on.

Pretty soon the tree is groaning with decorations and we’re all pointing out to Andy (who is so not bothered) ones that we made at school and ones that were seemingly stolen from other children at school: one says ALICE on the back but bizarrely there is one the same that says KAYLEIGH. What a thief!

We listened to Nine Lessons in Carols while we decorated the tree, it was all-round lovely. Later that night I took some photos of the tree with just the tree lights on. I played about with the tripod and setting my camera on a long exposure and then twisting the lens to zoom out at the same time. I love it!

A new mirror in the living room means lots of daft photos :)

Here is the tree on Christmas morning. Eeeeee there were so many presents this year! We were all very generous to each other. I love to give gifts and am far more likely to spend money on other people than I am on myself.

I find other people’s Christmas gift giving traditions interesting. When I was a child it never occurred to me that other people would believe different things about Father Christmas, or would open all their presents in one huge go first thing in the morning. We always had a lovely big stocking full of small gifts: these were from Father Christmas and we could have these as soon as we woke up (they were left, full, outside our bedroom doors) and we were expected to stay upstairs and remain occupied with our stockings until probably about 7am although I’m sure we beat our parents into allowing us downstairs before then sometimes. Typically the first one of us to wake would go and wake our siblings up too and then we’d cram onto one of our beds and compare stockings. Then at a reasonable time (HA!) we’d go and show our parents what Father Christmas had brought us. They were always thrilled, having JUST seen these things a few hours before …

After being allowed downstairs for the first time we’d burst into the living room and exclaim at all the gifts under the tree. Our parents put out the presents after we’d gone to bed on Christmas Eve. These presents were always from parents/family, never from Father Christmas (just the stockings were from Father Christmas.) Then there’d be some rummaging to see who had the biggest present. (This year my mum won the biggest present contest with that big, round, cushion shaped one. One year I won though when I got a chair bed.)

We weren’t allowed to open any presents until my dad came downstairs and he seemed to fully enjoy this and take as long as he possibly could to come downstairs. Meanwhile we were all desperate to open presents and my mum used to have to beat us into submission with croissants and a film until we shut up and left her be so that she could cook the lunch. We’d open about three things each in the mornings, and my grandma would arrive about 11 and then we could open lots more.

This year, Alice and Rachel went to collect Grandma and so me and Patch had a sneaky game of 100 pin bowling on the Wii.

It’s very mild weather at the moment, so much so that there were four roses blooming in the garden. Patch and my dad were sent outside to fetch these roses. Yes, they are wielding a rake to do so!

Can you believe it? Roses, picked from the garden, on Christmas Day?

I always get socks in my stocking and I always like to wear them on Christmas Day. This year’s socks are a rather fetching snowflake-y fair isle type, lovely.

Alice got a yo-yo and was a bit disappointed when she discovered she was too short for it and it kept hitting the ground. Patch found her a solution though!

To a certain extent now we choose some of our Christmas presents. Grandma gave me some Rialto yarn this year and it was lovely to do some hooking on Christmas day. I did have to buy another hook on Christmas Eve though when I realised that I’d left my 5mm hook by my bed at home. That was not the only hook related drama as Andy, for some reason, tidied my best 4mm hook away into a seldom-opened kitchen drawer and we all spent a whole (frustrating) day looking for it. Found it now though!

Andy surprised my mum by buying her a bottle of Moet as a present. This made her very happy, and also a little bit tiddly which is always good for a laugh. This time it resulted in gigantic Yorkshire puddings, but that was very ok by all of us!

It was a bit of a Bridgewater Christmas: I gave Rachel a mug, and I got given a mug from my mum (above) and two side plates from her too. Andy gave me a mug as well, and he got given a bowl and a side plate by my Grandma. I am dropping hints about building a dresser into the alcoves in our dining room now!

Speaking of Bridgewater and dressers, Rachel tidied up my mum’s dresser and would like me to share it:

It’s tricky to photograph but it looks lovely and she’s pleased with it.

There were Betty-cuddles on Christmas Day night, she’s turning into a right porker but is not as chunky as Treacle is!

On Boxing Day we go to Grandma’s house for another lunch and some lounging around time. We took a few instax photos, but not as many as I’d imagined we’d take.

Grandma always buys better crackers than my mum does ;-)

These were taken yesterday morning on my new camera. I am now the proud owner of a little Canon Ixus and am having fun playing with it. I like the setting which forces a fake tilt shift effect on your photos and makes them look like miniatures. I have to show you the amaryllis though. It’s gorgeous:

but really stumpy!

We tried to start another new tradition of having pancakes on the day after Boxing Day. These are pancakes made from waffle batter. We do have a waffle iron but it works better doing them as pancakes and doesn’t set the smoke alarm off quite so much!

Then there was time for just one last cup of tea by the Christmas Tree before cramming everything back into the car (whilst admitting to Andy that yes, I had lied on the way down when I said we would not bring back as much stuff as we took…) and travelled home. The M1 was full of things that you do not want to see on a motorway:

but we made it home eventually.

Such a lovely lovely Christmas. It was just how I imagined it to be, except better because there were tonnes of presents! hehe. It’s easy to get disappointed at Christmas when you have an idea in your head of how you want it to be, but when all of you have exactly the same idea of how you want it to be, it’s great when it turns out like that. I love Christmas traditions because they are so reminiscent of my childhood, and I love the time now that I get to spend in a snuggly warm haze with my family. Christmas is what you make it and we always make it just right :-)


p.s this is possibly the longest blog post I have ever written!

15 thoughts on “Roses on Christmas Day

  1. michelle says:

    It is a lovely blog and so nice to know other people have their own traditions.I have passed mine onto my children, who treasure them too.

  2. Lovely post; glad you had a wonderful Christmas. I have no idea what that traffic sign means, but it sounds like you got home OK.

    We also had stockings from Santa by the foot of our beds (and mine had a giant bell on the toe, so that must have been fun for Santa to sneak by my bed). However, the presents under the tree were a mixture of wrapped things (from Mom & Dad) and unwrapped things that Santa brought. I guess Santa exhausted himself wrapping all the stocking gifts. ;) But really, it was all about the impact when you first saw the tree! =)

  3. Alice and Raymond says:

    what a lovely post Heather! So nice to see a lovely family christmas, I missed my family soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much on Christmas day, I can’t wait for next year when I get to have another family day!

    Have a wonderful beginning to 2012

  4. It’s a wonderful long post Heather….I loved all your images and words. Your Mums dresser is gorgeous and so is that Amaryllis. Mine is still not flowering yet but I love the anticipation. I’m also loving the little crochet squares behind your sisters picture…have I seen these before ?
    I know the lost hook frustration…aaah !I now have 3 number 4 hooks to try and avoid stress but my old one is much nicer than the newer ones.
    Thanks for sharing your great family Christmas and all the best for 2012 :0)
    Jacquie x

  5. Victoria says:

    Your childhood Christmases sound a lot like mine. We didn’t out the tree up until Christmas Eve (B&Q were selling real trees for 1p on Xmas Eve, so this is a tradition I may reintroduce!!!); stockings from Father Christmas to open when we woke up; all the presents under the tree were from ‘real’ people and not to be opened until after lunch; and Boxing Day was always at Grannie’s house! We all went to church on Christmas morning as a way to get us out of the house and I still do this now with my children. They don’t mind as they get to see some of their friends from school and I like it as it allows a bit of quiet contemplation before the frenzy of cooking lunch/unwrapping presents.
    It looks like you had a fabulous time. There’s nothing like a proper family Christmas. xxxx
    P.s. that’s a lovely blanket in your last post

  6. Nanita says:

    I got back home yesterday from Spain, what a treat catching up here :-) Gorgeous tree (I’m with you on Domino the horse), and what a spectacular picture of the christmas lights ‘exploding’! I was staring at it in awe for quite some time, it must be magic! :-) Do tell your mum (and Rachel!) from me that dresser looks absolutely perfect. One of my best christmas presents came from my boyfriend’s mum – she taught me how to knit! Really! I can cast on, knit, purl, and cast off now, I still can’t believe it :D xxxx

  7. A great post Heather, one good read….great photos – and do I see Andy lurking behind all of you?
    Lovely to hear of your traditions and ours are just the same except there are no littlies to get stockings now and it’s just not the same but I don’t miss trying to find something on the list which was almost unobtainable.
    Wishing you and Andy the happiest of New Years and trust that 2012 will prove to be very happy, hooky one with radiators in and more work completed in the house. Andy has done so much work – he is rather special – some guys would just sit there and look at it!! All the best.

  8. A great post Heather, one good read….great photos – and do I see Andy lurking behind all of you?
    Lovely to hear of your traditions and ours are just the same except there are no littlies to get stockings now and it\’s just not the same but I don\’t miss trying to find something on the list which was almost unobtainable.
    Wishing you and Andy the happiest of New Years and trust that 2012 will prove to be very happy, hooky one with radiators in and more work completed in the house. Andy has done so much work – he is rather special – some guys would just sit there and look at it!! All the best.

  9. Siobhan says:

    Your Christmas sounds wonderful and I’m glad you enjoyed it so much. Your Christmas sounds pretty similar to my own when little and then my daughters. We opened our stockings by ourselves and then ran to get our parents up. We always opened the living room presents with our parents but we did that first thing in the morning, so no waiting. I don’t have much of a Father Christmas memory from my own childhood so I am not sure what was said.

    For my daughter though, it was the same as your family. Stockings from Father Christmas and other presents from people. I just thought it was right that the generosity from relatives and friends should be recognised – Father Christmas was generous enough with the stockings. Grandparents presents also came from Santa for many people and I wanted my daughter to know that they had thought of her and for them to be appreciated.

    It also didn’t explain why some children got less etc if it all came from Santa. You are completely right though, it was a minefield! So many children believed different things. For instance my daughter had to be asked not to say anything about the fact that a friend’s dad had made her a dolls house and that it was the result of his love and hard work rather than given to her by Father Christmas which is what the little girl believed as all her presents came from him. Conversely, my daughter would have loved a dolls house too and it was huge and expensive to make. So much easier to explain about parents being able to afford different things and having different skills, rather than Santa picking out certain children for special things (as I am sure some children think). It got so complicated at times! I can remember my daughter noticing that the stocking had some of the same wrapping paper as her presents from me, oops! I had to talk myself out of that one. I had to have plenty of stories ready to explain why other children thought as they did and why it wouldn’t be kind to tell them otherwise (Having said that, other parents/children just assumed that everyone else was like them in what they believed and often put a foot in it for someone else). Goodness knows what they all made of it when they got together and muddled up all the different versions. Not to mention all the many Father Christmass types roaming around in different shops, playgroups etc.

    Christmas magic continued just the same when Santa’s cover was blown too. We still love Christmas and we eek it out as long as possible. We too decorate the tree on Christmas Eve. In fact this year I was a bit ahead of myself and could have put the decorations on the tree the day before but I found my daughter asking me not to! We love that Christmas comes galloping in with the event of the tree. When it is up though we love it so much that it stays up until twelfth night. Many people seem to take theirs down a day or so after Christmas. I couldn’t bear that!

  10. What a beautiful Christmassy post heather…and if you were in Banbury, Oxfordshire, you have been so near to me! I’m glad it was such a lovely family day for you…that we all hope for isn’t it!? Great to see new traditions developing on top of the old too… Happy days :)x

  11. A truly lovely post. Your Chirstmas sounds so magical and wonderful. Familytime is the best in the world. Wishing you a wonderful 2012 with lots of fun and happy memories to hold dear in your heart.

  12. When I read this post it made me wish, not for the first time, that I had siblings to share this sort of tree decorating tradition with.

    I always opened all of my gifts as soon as I woke up. We now do it the way my husband did it as a child. The boys get a stocking from Santa that contains items that I do not approve of like silly string and foam soap, this all gets wrapped up in paper they haven’t seen around the house so they are totally convinced that it really is from Santa and not from Mummy and Daddy.

    Then they have to wait until after the queens speech to open everything else. They were so good about it this year to my surprise!

    Roses on Christmas day. Wow!

    EB stash accumulation. Oh joyous joy! I feel your delight.


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