Today it’s the turn of my daughter, the youngest of the three children who agreed to write down a few of their childhood Christmas memories. As she was the second one to ‘submit’ her post, she gets to go in the middle instead, as she used to complain, of always being the last to know or do anything. (Not true – I’ve always been scrupulously fair)!
Every family has their own Christmas traditions – mine were no exception. For some unknown reason, for a few years running one of my brothers and I would play football in the garden on Christmas Eve. We’d often play throughout the year but not as often in the winter, yet on Christmas Eve it became a ‘thing’ that we’d play again. I’ve no idea why!
I’d go to bed on Christmas Eve knowing I’d wake up early with a stocking hanging on my bedroom door and hoping that Santa had delivered presents under the tree downstairs (thankfully, he always did). Having big brothers, five and seven years old than me, I must give them credit for never diluting the magic of Christmas. They never ruined anything as I imagine many older siblings have done.
Still in my pyjamas, I would open my stocking usually when it was still dark outside with my parents sleeping on the top floor of our house. I don’t know how early we would actually get up but I have memories of my brothers and I creeping downstairs into the kitchen to put some Weetabix crumbs in bowls and then placing the bowls into the dishwasher. Our parents said we had to eat breakfast before we opened our presents. This was our way of outsmarting the system. After all, surely Christmas Day is one of only two times a year it’s acceptable to eat chocolate for breakfast (the other being Easter).
There was more waiting as my dad lit the fire. Presents couldn’t be distributed until it was roaring. Imagine being a young child in a room full of presents and not being able to touch them until the fire was going. As an adult, I can now understand how it made the morning more special. As the youngest, I was always the present giver-outer. I pretended it was a chore, but if anyone had taken it away from me, I’d have been secretly devastated! It was a role I had for many years, even as a teenager.
The rest of our Christmas day passed by like I imagine lots of peoples do, full of family and food but one memory sticks out – tree presents. They were given out after dinner, I think usually from my grandparents. They were never big gifts but perhaps more than stocking fillers. Either way, it was a way of prolonging the presents which, as a child, was great.
Whilst I’m sure it was often stressful behind the scenes, my parents never let it show. In my memory, we used to have the most wonderful Christmases. And now, with a three year old who has been asking for Christmas songs on Alexa since August, the magical feeling is returning! I hope that I make her Christmas as wonderful as my parents made mine and my brothers.