In The Country Magazine
In The Country

Country Christmas Traditions

If you read this before Christmas, I hope it fills you with a little festive cheer or similarly, if you are reading this post Christmas, then in that case, hopefully you’ll be able to chuckle to yourself as you look back on this year’s festivities with a smile and relate to our tales.

Christmas for me has always been a time of magic and excitement. Without sounding cliché that is, growing up, Christmas in our house was to me at the time, truly magical. My mother always went totally out of her way, above and beyond what you would imagine, to create the most wonderful Christmas for my sisters and I each year. To us, Christmas Eve was just as exciting as the day itself. We would each sit around the fire and handwrite our Christmas list in a letter to Father Christmas (as he is known in our house), whilst mum and dad sat drinking wine and watching the festive soaps on television.

Once we had finished the letters, the only way to send them to FC was to tear them up into tiny pieces and throw them onto the fire. We would each watch in awe as our letters burnt, with tiny pieces working their way up the chimney and on to the North Pole. Once our letters were all sent, it was time to lay out FC’s glass of wine and mince pie which would be waiting for him by the fireplace when he came down the chimney to visit. My parents would always tell us of the ‘conversations’ they both had with FC each year when he arrived. Rudolph and the reindeer would always be left carrots outside the front door along with some fresh water for their onward journey.

Next it would be time for our Christmas Eve presents; these would always consist of a pair of new pyjamas, slippers and a new decoration for the tree. We would run upstairs and change into them as fast as we could before returning to show my parents our new festive pjs. Before bedtime, we would follow my mother up to her room where we would have the same extremely well-acted (or so we thought when we were younger, not so much nowadays, but the act is still the same!) panic about having forgotten to buy stockings for us to place on the end of our beds.

Now, each family has their own traditions and this is why we wanted to feature this piece because the unique traditions of one family which may seem strange to another, are to me, such a special part of Christmas. Back to the stocking scenario, and speaking of traditions – this is one of ours!

When thinking of a Christmas stocking, you’ll probably imagine a festive looking sock-shaped sack, traditionally hung on the fire place but oh no, not us! We quite literally have stockings! My mother would open a new pack of nude tights, cut them in half so that we each had one leg (the dogs, cats and horse had one too!) and we would lay these at the end of our bed, hoping FC would visit and fill them by the morning.

A literal-stocking filled with sweets and goodies is quite a unique sight, I can tell you. When we used to explain this to our friends at school, we used to get some very odd looks but, it is part of our family Christmas and I will do the same for my children in the future – I already do it for the horse now that that responsibility has been passed to me!

Everything about Christmas in our family is special and I could fill all of the pages within this magazine with tales of my childhood Christmases but then you wouldn’t get to hear from anyone else! Plus, some of them are family secrets I couldn’t tell you about because they’re just too magical! From the smell of mulled wine syrup, the homemade sausage rolls, Belgian chocolate squares or the peppermint creams (which I don’t like but my sister just hoovers up!), to the festive Christmas playlists ringing out through the house or to the mounds of food that my mother prepares each and every year. Thanks to my parents, Christmas is a time of year which I can reminisce about with fond memories of genuine magic, laughter and love. I feel so lucky to have grown up and experienced Christmas this way and I cannot wait to be able to recreate these, bizarre family traditions (and all with the help of my mother, of course) for my own little ones in the future.

Now, enough from me, let’s hear from the others:

You may know Alberta Dickson from her stunning Instagram account. She isthe girl behind The Messy Bun. She says;

“Christmas with my parents, sisters and dogs was always magical. Every year we would get a real tree and decorate it together. My father, an artist by trade and complete perfectionist would say that us children could decorate the tree, however he would always end up taking over and make it look like something out of a John Lewis advert. Apparently, you can hang tinsel very wrong? I still remember the dusty smell of the decorations box and that exciting moment when it was dragged down from the attic, each year revealing the terribly handmade decorations and tacky trinkets that we begged my mother to keep. On Christmas morning, we would all receive a sack with our name on, waiting outside our bedroom doors. In our house, the saying: “HE’S BEEN, HE’S BEEN!” was very popular. Present opening in your pjs and a long family dog walk before lunch is a kept tradition in our house, without fail.”

Next up we have Kirsty, the lady behind A Farmer’s Wife. As a mother of four, Kirsty asked her children if they could think of anything she could write about their family traditons;

“When I told the children I was writing a short piece about our Christmas traditions and asked them if they could think of anything I should write about, they told me, ‘but we just do the same thing every year!’ This left me wondering if our family is rather boring. Of course we leave out mince pies, a glass of milk and a carrot on Christmas Eve. We also like to go outside and sprinkle reindeer food on the lawn at dusk and look up to the skies for Father Christmas flying past on his sleigh (we track him using the Norad app). And sure, doesn’t everybody pile on to mum and dads’ bed to open their stockings on Christmas morning, have chocolate, prosecco and smoked salmon for breakfast, or is it just us? We will also call the grandparents, my brother and the girls’ father and step-mother (if they’re not with us that particular year) to wish them a Merry Christmas. Then it hit me, our traditions may be simple but that’s what I love in life, simplicity and our predictable routine, it feels safe and I can plan for it. I like that the outcome of sprinkling reindeer food is the same every year – a giant handful of glittery porridge dumped in a pile rather than delicately spread accross the lawn, or that the pigs in blankets will be pinched from the roasting tray before they’ve even reached the plates and that the dogs will hoover up all the left over brussel sprouts as we remember why we swore not to let them do that this year (holds nose!). Now that I am a mother, when I think back to my own childhood Christmases, I remember the small things, like my grandfather always wearing the paper hat from his Christmas cracker or my father bringing the decorations down from the loft and of course, my brother waking me at 4 am every year to open our stockings in our rooms and then re-wrappping them before our parents found out! So, if like us you feel you don’t have many traditions or the ones you do have are pure and simple, that is ok. It is the little things that mean the most.”

Lastly, a very dear friend of mine, Laura Hardcastle of Working Mum Of Twins, has young twin boys, and we have been discussing how we can ensure they have a Christmas to remember and to begin introducing some traditions which they will begin to treasure and associate with the festive season as they grow up.

Remembering her family Christmases, she explains that Christmas is; ‘a time where we would all gather on the sofa, warming by the fire eating roasted chestnuts whilst watching those timeless family movies, absorbing the laughter and family spirit that comes with it. I want to pass this on to our two boys, sharing the magic of Christmas and all of it’s treasures, joy and love.’

Whilst I don’t yet have a family of my own, I couldn’t be more excited about recreating the magic for them, when the time comes. I know I will probably find way too much enjoyment in creating our very own magic and story associated with Christmas time. Finding inspiration in my own childhood Christmases, thanks to my mother. Father Christmas’ snowy foot prints, up the stairs, along the landing and into each of our bedrooms are most certainly on the agenda! As I grew up and began to realise the reality of Christmas and my mother’s involvement with the entire process, I do have to applaud all of the mothers and fathers who go to such lengths to create the story, the magic and the reality hidden from us. I for one have no idea how my mother managed to do it all without waking us! I know I will be calling her for tips when it’s my turn to recreate FC’s snowy footprints!

Until next time…

Lots of love,

Hollie-Ella Xxx

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