Your Christmas… The beauty of family traditions.

What are your family traditions around Christmas time? A Boxing Day walk? Christmas morning swim? Or something smaller, whatever they are, we’d love for you to share yours in the comments.

With Christmas been and gone for another year, we’re now in the depths of limbo – the week between Christmas and New Year, where knowing which day it is at any given moment is a challenge.

Often, many use this time to reflect on the year past, and to look ahead to the coming 12 months. Even if, like us, you aren’t intentionally setting New Year’s Resolutions, we can’t help but bring new ideas, new intentions and new attitudes to mind.

For a growing number, the concept of setting Resolutions is going out of fashion. The pressure we inflict on ourselves to achieve these resolutions can be counter intuitive, and during a time in our history where we’re living with a huge amount of stress, financial pressure and uncertainty already,  we quite frankly don’t want to add any more to our lives and that’s understandable.

I think 2024 is going to be a year where many will prioritise being kind to themselves, protecting their own peace and slowing ‘life’ down.

Though the Christmas festivities are behind us, Emma and I were talking about how we each have unique Christmases, many with similarities, yes. Though, there will be something that makes your Christmas, yours and vice versa. We’d love to invite you to share a Christmas tradition in your family so that it may inspire others in the comments section below. We are sharing a couple of ours, each for you to get you started.

Holly’s tradition:

In our family, my two younger sisters and I are still in the season of life where we are enjoying Christmases at home. We cherish these Christmases, and are agreed that there many not be many more like them as we step out into the world with our own partners, and eventually families, inevitably Christmas will look different in the coming years. Whilst they’ve changed as we’ve grown from little girls to young women, gone are the days of Santa’s talc footprints up the stairs and along the hallway to each of our rooms, yet the stockings remain.

And whilst many people have stockings, ours are literal stockings. That in itself is a tradition, one which she has carried on through her childhood and one which I’ve shared with partners of mine (who have often thought I am bonkers), and create myself for my animals. Our family Labrador, Ella always used to have one too, and so thanks to Mum for instilling this tradition in me, Nellie and Simba now do too.

Mum reels off the same line each year on Christmas Eve, and we play along knowingly, but all wanting to keep up the magic. ‘I don’t know if I have any tights, I don’t think I’ve got any stockings this year girls.’ Off she goes to have a look, and surprise surprise, year on year, she comes down with various sets of nude tights, convenient.

We cut them down the middle, each having a ‘leg’ each, which we lay across the foot of our beds, ready for Father Christmas to visit.

My own Boxing Day has chopped and changed over the years as I move through my adult life, my sisters and Mum cherish the slowness of Boxing Day; a day spent in pyjamas, grazing on leftovers throughout the day and watching Christmas TV. For me, some years have been spent in the field shooting, others saw me surrender to the sofa nursing a food baby from the day before, whilst this year was spent surrounded by horses with Nellie in tow. Next year’s may look different once again

Traditions evolve, and new traditions begin and that is the beauty of Christmas. This year for example, my stocking was laid outside my door, as Nellie sleeps on the bed and would have joyfully greeted FC as (s)he arrived.

Equally, we have always received a new pair of cosy pyjamas on Christmas Eve, along with a decoration for the tree and some slippers or cosy socks. As we grew up, and our family dynamic changed, we wanted to include Mum in this tradition, and so buy her her own pair and tree decoration. My sister absolutely nailed it this year for her with a Little House on the Prairie inspired PJ top, a programme which in itself is a tradition for our family.

Emma, what about you?

Emma’s tradition:

Much like Holly’s house, we have a set of family traditions that have evolved over the years and still remain precious, even though our boys are now 21 and 19.

The first and foremost one is the gift of time – the hustle and bustle of our daily work lives is pushed most firmly to one side and, save for the routine of feeding the animals, we enjoy the chance to spend unhurried time together chatting, playing cards and cooking family meals to be enjoyed with nothing forcing us to rush from the table.

Stockings are still a tradition in our house too, although rather than stockings we have a Father Christmas pillowcase. Luckily Santa can still find his way into the house and maybe he sighs with relief as he spots that there is no longer a mince pie and a carrot to tuck into. The stocking opening ceremony is something that the brothers have always enjoyed together, although I suspect that our eldest is relieved that he no longer has to wake at 4am to the excited shouts of his younger brother!

For me, my heart fills as I hear this simple tradition carrying on every year. A nostalgic wave of accumulated memories washes into my mind, a fabulous reminder of Christmases past that I quietly savour and tuck this year’s memory alongside.

Echoing Holly’s comment about traditions evolving, many years ago we took the liberating decision to move our Christmas meal to around 5pm. To me, it just seemed that there was a huge amount of rushing around and stress going on to put lunch on the table at 1pm and quality time together enjoying Christmas morning was sacrificed because of the meal curfew.

At the time it felt very rebellious tearing up the norms of our own family backgrounds to create a new timescale and, to be truthful, it took our own parents a couple of years to get used to it. But the magic of their grandchildren being enchanted by a candlelit meal at 5pm worked like a charm and a new normal was born. It also has the added bonus of a 1pm walk feeling like the world is your own as nearly everyone else is busy cooking or enjoying lunch!

Our Boxing Day tradition used to be going to the beach at Burton Bradstock in Dorset, grabbing a bacon bap and a coffee from The Hive, followed by a bracing walk beside the sea. More often than not, the weather would make it more of an expedition than a walk and we would collapse back into the car and drive home ready for an afternoon by the fire.

But the lockdown ban on going out of county (I know, did that really happen?) put paid to that one and in a bid to make up for the disappointment of a tradition lost, I recreated a tradition from my childhood with a table of cold cuts and food to graze on as we binge watched a movie or two. It seems that a walk nearer home and a grazing table is much preferred, so a new tradition has now been added to our Christmas schedule.

We’ve always tried to be fairly laid back about Christmas, it can be all too easy to let the quest for perfection overshadow the joy of the day and that doesn’t make for good memories for anyone.

So maybe our combined Christmas message is to encourage you to roll with the changes that time bestows, to weave new magic into the traditions of yesteryear and above all to remember that the memories most talked about are often found in the unmanaged moments, amongst the heap of mishaps and in the most unexpected, but glorious times.

We hope, that whatever you’re doing and whoever you’re with, you found your way to some Christmas joy. However, we also realise that it’s a difficult time for some people, and if this is you, we encourage you to reach out to friends and family, share how you’re feeling and if this isn’t possible then do reach out to one of the agencies who are there to help at times like this including the Samaritans or the Farming Community Network.

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