Everyone has a very clear view on what Christmas should be like, but each person thinks differently. One person’s traditional Christmas seems completely wrong to someone else. It all boils down to that one word: tradition. So Razz asked its writers to tell us what Christmas is to you…
Christmas in our house happens in a mad rush. With our family, life seems a frantic dash at the best of times, but with such a feast of food, a host of guests, my brother playing carols constantly and so many festive events, we step up on the madhouse scale!
And I love the build-up – the baking, making and finding presents that the people I love will love. The festive possibilities are endless! There are Christmas cakes to decorate, overly ambitious presents to make, holly to find, a ceiling-scraping Christmas tree to bundle into the car, Christmas concerts to sing in…
It’s deliciously busy with the wrapping finishing past midnight on Christmas Eve, and somehow I seem to annually end up covered in gold spray up to my elbows!
But my favourite part of Christmas tends to be the relative quiet of Boxing Day. In our village Boxing Day is quite an event, the Morris sides brace themselves against the cold, and dance through the village picking up a lot of local beer and homemade samosas as they go. Boules is played on the village green and the two rival pubs (barely metres away) are filled to bursting point with jostling people for the annual rude rendition of ‘Alouette’!
On Boxing Day calm is restored, you can pop onto the green to catch the last jingling bells and then you can stroll home back into the warm. The day after Christmas the pressure is off… the presents have been unwrapped, some with careful folding and others featuring a battle against the Sellotape and shredded paper. You get to enjoy the food without the amounts being so overwhelming, you can make a mini roast dinner from your favourite leftovers and indulge more comfortably. Family and friends are still gathered round but, with less to do, everyone can breathe again. The whirlwind that is Christmas has departed.
Christmas, throughout my entire life has been one of our own traditions, always focusing around the matriarch; my Gran.
On Christmas morning, we start the day with bacon sandwiches.
Then we get ready to leave to see my grandparents. In the past, we would open some presents, but due to my Gran’s nagging we changed this tradition recently to do all of our unwrapping up in the midlands.
When we arrive in Derby we gorge ourselves on tea and biscuits before my Gran’s excitement gets the better of her and she starts wildly thrusting presents at all of us telling us to get unwrapping. After this we walk down the road to my aunt’s house where another round of present giving gets too much for my Gran and we sit down to our meal. After stuffing our faces, we fill the day with various Wii-based games that my granddad hates before all slowly drinking too much and watching the older generations fall asleep one by one on various sofas and chairs.
Our family isn’t exactly traditional, but we have our way of doing things and we all know what they are. Its quaint, it’s comfortable and it’s lovely. Who needs a whole roast turkey with all the trimmings while your Granddad has all the Christmas cracker jokes you would ever need and your Gran can’t stop questioning you on what she just bought you?
I start my Christmas in the middle of November. My family has a meeting to decide the location, who’s cooking what, who’s dressing up as Father Christmas, and the theme. Yup, theme. This year it’s “Cover yourself in Christmas” which roughly translates to my 48 year old dad donning a pair of angel wings and a tutu and going as a fairy. I kid you not. Past themes have included countries, black tie, and (personal favourite) D-I-S-C-O.
November is also when I start my shopping. Some of you Scrooges will, no doubt, be humbug-ging at that, but it means that I don’t have to fight off scarily violent shoppers in Oxford Street. Instead, I stroll around the streets of London able to take in the displays (why they have marmite-themed Christmas lights this year is beyond me); I have time to sip cocktails in Covent Garden next to one of the many beautiful Christmas markets.
But when it comes down to it, Christmas really is about one thing: presents. Well, and family. And Jesus. For me.
On Christmas Eve we spend the day with my mum’s side of the family. I have seven cousins under 12 so it’s always very noisy, but also is really what I look forward to every year- mostly because we make them sing and dress up, but also to see their faces when one of my uncles inevitably falls down the stairs dressed as Santa.
On Christmas Day I wake up at around 7am, run downstairs, and blast Christmas music until the rest of my family joins me around the tree. After we’ve opened a few, we go to the cemetery to see my grandpa (no, he’s not a gravedigger) and others in our family who have passed. Then we go to the host’s house and hopefully get started on lunch. After our lunch we have a game or two (I, of course, am games master) and then we start on dinner, which is the Goan portion of the evening. The main dish is a Goan curry called Sorpotel, rice, various pickles, etc. Then there are more games, another Father Christmas visit, Secret Santa and pudding.
And yes, I have conveniently left out the copious amounts of alcohol. This year’s tipple of choice: Jaeger bombs. I kid you not. My aunt’s birthday is on Boxing Day so we wait until midnight and then a cake comes out. We sing happy birthday and then pass out.
Our family have always enjoyed a very traditional Christmas: the women cook all morning, whilst the men drink and chat, then we have a big roast turkey dinner, there’s present giving, and then we watch my grandparents fall asleep to a Christmas film after consuming rather too much whisky.
The last few years have been a little different though, as we had to accommodate my Nan, who has Alzheimer’s. The celebrations made her confused and flustered, and no amount of festive cheer was going to stop her crying, because she simply had no idea what was going on. She hates to stay in one place, and most of my time last year was spent leaving my turkey to get cold whilst I coaxed her back to the dinner table when she wandered off. The rest of the time was spent trying to stop her from peeling and eating the baubles, or putting crisps in her pockets. Some of the time she was happy though, and it’s worth all the trouble to see that rare smile on her face.
The problem with tradition is that it relies on things staying the same, and they don’t. But it’s safe, and it’s comforting, and that’s why we do it.
There are no young children left in our family, so it’s not the day of excitement that it used to be. But now it’s a day of calm (post-dinner) and, most importantly, being with family.
Christmas in my house is still the same as when I was five. I’m one of four siblings; when my big sister was fifteen my littlest brother was only six. Now he’s fifteen it seems a little unfair for him not to have the same thrill she was still allowed to have at his age. That’s my excuse anyway.
We live in an old house with very thin walls so on Christmas morning you can hear, at about 5am, a brother or sister unwrapping their presents, and then you’re up. My parents said we ought to stay in bed till 7.00 but they’re awake by 6.00 too.
Last year my brother and I took sleeping pills to try and coax us into sleep. Yes, that is weird, and I am perfectly aware that this is a ridiculous level of excitement to have at the age of 21- but it’s Christmas!
This year will be just the same, up by 6am and having to wait all the way until 4pm for goose, and gravy, and deliciousness. There are games, not totally weird ones, we save them until New Year’s Eve, and mass quantities of chocolate. We might even whip out the Christmas pudding outfit.
Christmas is a special time, that one day of the year where everyone celebrates being with those you love. Unfortunately not everyone is able to see out Christmas Day in a festive blur of cheer and goodwill. For as long as I can remember my dad has had to work on Christmas Day, and for the past few years either my brother or I have worked on Christmas Eve and/or Boxing Day. It’s a bit hard to fit in some wholesome eggnog or mulled wine (or just general consumption of alcoholic beverages) when no one can be hungover in case some stuffed-to-the-brim-with-turkey swimmer suddenly realises they can’t float anymore (hazards of lifeguarding). But somehow we do still manage to fit in a massive Christmas Dinner…just not on Christmas Day.
Actual Christmas Day is usually spent doing our own thing, my mum’s even taking to getting all the ironing done on a few occasions, whilst we wait until the evening for my dad to get to home.
However this year might be different. This year my dad has Christmas off, and for the majority (forgetting essays and revision) so do my brother and I. So who knows, we may actually join those celebrating Christmas on Christmas! But I know it doesn’t really matter when we enjoy it, as long as we do at some point. ‘Tis the season after all…
Thank you to all our lovely Razz writers.
Razz love, xx.