We LOVE Christmas. Like most families, it’s kind of a big deal for us, and over the years we’ve grown accustomed to doing it A Certain Way. You know how it is – you do something one year, the children expect it the next, and before you know it, yet another ‘tradition’ has been added to the list.
It was only when I started to describe our Christmas to a relatively new acquaintance recently that I realised quite how involved our traditions have become… (dates may vary slightly according to term/placement of Christmas to weekends)

End of Nov – First attic visit to retrieve advent calendars and wrapping paper / gift tag box.
Commence regular Family Film Night, working through stock of classic Christmas movies.

Dec 1st – Advent calendars have magically appeared over night, and the advent fairy has made her first visit, popping a treat into pocket 1.

2nd weekend in December – On Saturday we go out Tree Hunting. Visit to the nursery forest and spend at least an hour picking our trees (fussy? Much?). Watch them be cut down, strap them to the roof and drive them home, stopping half way for chips-from-the-chip-van for lunch. Trees are stored in the garden in large buckets of water, and we realise that once again we’ll have to take the tops off to fit them in the house…
On the Sunday we go Holly hunting. This may only take a short while, or it may take all day, depending on what the Holly Berries are like. We have a few favourite locations, and make notes of any more we come across during the year. You’d be amazed how hard it is to find Holly trees with a decent amount of berry on them some years. Bloody selfish birds.
Once Holly has been located, let the boys cut and collect whilst self and daughter strip surrounding trees of an armful of decent straight lengths of ivy.

During the following week – decorate the outside of the house. White lights in all trees and bushes. Pretty.

3rd weekend in Dec – DECORATE.
Move all furniture into Christmas positions.
Two trees into the house; Dining Room first, then Living Room. Adults only for Tree Moving – swear words may be present as wonkiness of trees and stability of base is assessed. Also 3rd degree pine needle stab wounds.
Once trees in situ, Chrsitmas music is put on stereo and the decoration may begin. Children and I on trees, husband on House.
Living Room tree is all coloured lights, coloured baubles and Angel.
Dining Room is white lights, red and silver baubles, silver star.
Husband places holly over ever picture frame, on top of Kitchen cupboards (with white fairy lights), and decorates hallway and playroom with their regulation Christmas Happenings. Ivy draped artistically across mantelpieces, and around the candle clusters.
Finish too late, get takeaway for tea and eat pizza in living room by Christmas tree, watching Polar Express.

Last week before children break up – spend long evenings hunched over table with carols playing. I’m chief Wrapper whilst husband is master Tagger. Wine and mince pies to be consumed to maintain energy levels.

22nd Dec – Jolly’s birthday. Daytime activity, and In Laws arrive in time for birthday tea.

23rd Dec – Boys take trip to collect Turkey from farm, Ham & Beef from Butchers, Clotted Cream from Dairy.
I stay home for Shopping Delivery – stash and pack accordingly, and triple check The List for everything we need. Make giant Shepherd’s Pie for Christmas Eve dinner.

24th Dec – Grandparents take children out early with packed lunches to somewhere outdoorsy and exhausting. The children get quite tired too.
Husband and I spring into action – bake the Ham, make the fruit jellies (from scratch, if you please), the cheesecake, the pigs in blankets, the cracklets, the stuffing, the bread sauce, the cranberry sauce, more mince pies… and see how many times I can sneak Bing’s Christmas CD into the stereo before he notices what he’s listening too. Kings College 9 Lessons Service will be on the radio at 4, children and exhausted grandparents arrive home soon after it has finished.

After dinner, bath & PJ’s, all children (even the teen) will come nestle by the fire while Daddy reads the special illustrated ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ (which has only been read *counts* 13 times). Ceremonial procession to place glass of milk, plate, carrot & mince pie on hearth, then to bed to hang stockings in rooms.

Christmas Day – stockings upon waking (never before 7), all piled on Gangy & Bumpa’s bed.
Church in the morning for those who wish to go (or maybe church service on TV if those keen are too tired to walk…) Dinner for 1.
No presents until after the Queen’s speech. I know. Harsh.
High tea for 6, and then silly games all evening.

Boxing Day – exactly the same as Christmas Day. Family walk in the morning, 2nd day Turkey dinner (cold meat, hot veg), small presents in afternoon, High Tea, games all evening.

Day after Boxing day is cold meat and pickles day. Maybe the first TV of Christmas, with a new DVD in the afternoon, but games all evening…