I’ll admit it, I am a massive sucker for Christmas traditions. My boyfriend thinks I’m mad and a little bit boring for sticking to the same thing year after year, but it’s like a familiar old sweater – it’s comforting.
A fairly recent addition to our family’s festive repertoire is visiting the European Christmas markets in Manchester. For the last few years, about a week before Christmas, I go to town with my mum and at least one sister to get lunch, shop, pick Christmas tree decorations and – most importantly – warm up with some lovely Gluwhein!
I love seeing Manchester all lit up at night and there was SNOW! Albeit very wet, sleety snow. But it still helped to add to the atmosphere.
My favourite stall in St Anne’s Square – the original German market in Manchester and the quietest, which makes it the best – is the nutcracker stall . When I was little, my mum used to take me to the ballet to see The Nutcracker every winter, so when I see the stall it always makes me think of her.
I got this little fella (the monkey doesn’t look happy about it!)
Here’s some other Christmas traditions I love…
- Muppets’ Christmas Carol
- Santa Claus the Movie
- Miracle on 34th Street (old and new)
- and All I want for Christmas.
In that order. Back to back.
You probably know the first three, but if you haven’t heard of the last one, All I Want for Christmas is an excellent yet totally cheesy made for TV movie starring a five-year-old Thora Birch (her of Ghostworld fame), so cute! It’s about two kids trying to get their parents back together on Christmas Eve (hence the title) and little Thora asks Santa but her older brother is a cynical teenager and doesn’t believe in Santa. You can probably guess the end, but I won’t spoil it for you.
It used to be on television every year when we were growing up, but then it just stopped and you couldn’t find it anywhere. You couldn’t even buy it on Amazon (though you can now, £3 – bargain!) so, when I worked in a record shop at Christmas four years ago, I got them to order it in for me specially.
Is always spent with friends, usually in the same little local pub. I always get home about 11 and sit under the tree doing last minute present wrapping. Then me and my mum watch midnight mass from Westminster Cathedral. Despite the fact that I’m 27, we still put out a mince pie and a glass of sherry, which my dad heartily enjoys (I always wondered when I was little why he suggested putting a packet of crisps out for the reindeer rather than a carrot).
Having said that, this year I am breaking with tradition and spending the evening at my sister’s. It’s the first year my niece (who’s three) really understands what’s going on. Words can’t describe how excited she is. But I do think she may actually burst sometime soon!
I have always got up super-early on Christmas morning. I was always the same as a kid, anything exciting and I wanted to make the most of every single minute. I’d get up at 6am – I may afford myself a bit more of a lie-in now I’m older and knackered – go down to see the tree, watch cartoons and spend at least an hour lazing in the bath.
My mum always has all the family round on Boxing Day and it is actually my favourite day of the festive period. Yes, it’s even better than Christmas! Probably in no small part down to the fact that she does the best buffet.
When we were kids, we used to put on little shows for our family, using the floor length curtains as some sort of stage door. And we used to rope our shy cousins into performing too (sorry). We did the nativity, one year we were supermodels (I was five!) and one year Fi dressed up as a Christmas pudding. She was always destined to be a performer…
I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas and new year, observing old or making new traditions with their loved ones. What are your family’s Christmas traditions? I’d love to know.