Posted by: Fern | November 15, 2007

Christmas Is Coming

Not any old Christmas, but my first Christmas with the babe. Though I’m very much aware that this Christmas will mean nothing to him, and more than likely neither will next years, it’s still made me think a lot more about Christmas traditions. Dan and I have very different experiences of Christmas growing up, and what I’m trying to do is take the different parts of them and combine them together. I don’t see us having a Christmas with my family within the next five years, unfortunately getting my sisters and my mum together from four different countries (sometimes five depending on where mum is) takes a lot of work, planning and money 😦 So we spend Christmas with Dan’s family, and we have their Christmas, which isn’t bad by any means, it’s fun, but the things that I grew up with they’re just not familiar with.

Christmases past for us goes something like this.

  • I eat a roast dinner, Dan eats cold meats and salad. This one isn’t interchangeable, in thirty five degree weather there is no way I can cook and eat a roast.
  • We have always had stockings, stockings are the BEST part of Christmas, their main purpose was to calm us down and stop with the nagging of “can we open the presents now”, we’d wake up at 5am and wouldn’t bother my mum until much later because we’d be involved in the stocking contents. Dan has given in to my demands for a stocking – his first one was terrible, the second Christmas we spent together I didn’t have one (I’d flown in from the UK on Christmas Eve), last years one was perfect, spot on. He doesn’t understand the point of them, but I will continue doing one for him, and now Declan, and of course demanding one for myself. What does bother me is that no one in Dan’s family does this, so when Declan mentions to his cousins about his stocking, will they not get confused that Father Christmas brings him a stocking but not them?
  • Then there’s the presents, this is where everything gets different. In my family Santa brought the stocking and one or maybe two big presents, the rest were from Mum or Dad. I brought this up with my mum a few years ago and she explained it was because she had tried Santa bringing all the toys for a few years and ended up pissed off that he got all the thanks, my Mum cracks me up, but I can completely understand that reasoning. For my niece and nephew, Santa brings everything. I worry that Declan will pick up on this (yes, I do know we’re talking many years ahead now) and wonder why Santa brings him two presents and his cousins get twenty. There is also the way presents are opened, this is probably my main issue, because IMO (and Dan will probably get stroppy at me for writing this) but the way Dan’s family does it just seems like a big orgy of greed, but then I mentioned the way we do it to Dan’s grandmother and she laughed at me and said that’s because we’re all control freaks… hmm. The way we do it is Santa’s little helper hands out the presents, we wait until they’re all done and then go round in a circle opening them one by one. It makes the present opening more significant, it means that each child gets a chance to look at their gift and take it in instead of rushing onto the next one, and it also means (which Mum explained as being her main reason for doing it this way) that as a parent you can watch each child open their gift and watch them enjoy discovering what it is. The downside of our way is that when your children are younger then you need to buy them the same amount of presents so that you don’t end up with any arguments, but this is gone once they can understand the concept of a Playstation being more expensive than a set of blocks. Dans way of doing it is the same re. Santa’s little helper, but as soon as you receive a gift you just tear into it, I hate the fact that I can’t see people opening gifts that I give them, and that if I want to thank someone they’re usually too involved in whatever they’re opening to notice me, watching the children you just see them barely opening one and then diving for the next present. The Christmas before last I sat and held onto my presents while I watched everyone, I just didn’t know what to do! It cracked me up to see Dan’s Cousin’s Fiance doing the same thing, she obviously did it our way as well, we looked just as lost as one another. Presents are also opened as soon as everyone is up, in my house we had to eat breakfast and let mum have a cuppa or two first, as a mother I find this plan very sensible.
  • Wow, this is getting long. Christmas tree in our house goes up on the thirteenth, goes down on the sixth, no budging on this, any other days will spell doom for the beginning year. Christmas tree in Dan’s family goes up whenever they get around to it and pulled down as soon as they can be bothered after Christmas day.
  • Advent calendars. Essential to my Christmas, Dan wasn’t familiar with them. It wasn’t until my first Christmas that I discovered why, chocolate and thirty five degree heat do not mix, and keeping your advent calendar in the fridge just doesn’t work. In the UK you can get a huge range of calenders with gummy sweets in them, but you just can’t find them out here – very stupid.

I’m sure this list goes on and on, there are certain things I’ll budge on and certain things I wont. I’m very aware of losing what was traditional in my family just because it’s easier to go with Dan’s way of doing things, but I really don’t want to do that, these things were what made the Christmas related memories for me, and I want to keep both Dan and my traditions as well as creating our own new ones, unfortunately it’s a lot more difficult that I previously thought.



  1. I agree with you on the stockings, they are the best part of christmas. I remember hanging a pillow case at the end of the bed and waking up to find it replaced with a stocking. As a mom now I know the importance of the stocking , it gives you an extra half hour sleep haha. As far as the advent calenders we can’t them in the USA, I have to get Nanny and Grandad to send them to Ben. A few years ago Grandad even sent one to my cats lol. We can’t get alot of my favorite things from home at Christmas, no Christmas pudding, no Quality Street, no crackers. I’m in luck this year tho mom and dad went to Nan and Grandads in oct. so when we go for Christmas this year, I’ll be able to bring some things back that she got for me. I also miss seeing Grandad Ernie in his red pajamas and santa mask giving out presents from the snowman tub on Christmas eve. Also miss selection boxes from cadburys.

  2. Hi Fern, Michelle beat me to it in leaving a comment, do you remember Michelle.
    The thing I loved most about christmas at Nanny Olly and Grandad Ernies house was the tub, done on boxing day after tea. Grandad in his red P.Js, all the adults half cut, so much fun. Christmas in the US is’nt as good as in the UK, none of the lovely atmosphere of the high streets, none of the good food and drink. I try to do an english christmas but it’s not the same.
    Christmas this year will be better than last year when Uncle Jack and I were alone, because Michelle Ryan Ben and baby Jack are coming. Wish Matt coud be here, but he’s having his second christmas in Irag and his 3rd away from home.

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