Friday, 22 December 2017

Our Christmas traditions, old and new.

With Christmas only 3 days away, I thought it would be nice to share our Christmas family traditions.  As we have two small children these traditions are still fairly new and we add to them year on year.  This rings especially true this year as we are spending our first Christmas away from England.  Our first expat Christmas.

I have always been one of those people that keeps the festive spirit alive all year through. I am a December baby so perhaps that is partly to blame.  I unashamedly count down to Christmas and can often be found watching a Christmas film in July! I used to get so excited when I heard the first Christmas song on in the shops or when my mum brought the Argos catalogue home.  I would sit for hours trawling through it and writing a ridiculously long wish list for Santa.   I have to say though as I got older Christmas did lose a little bit of it's sparkle for a while.  I think that had a lot to do with working in retail whilst I was at university.  Putting up sale signs everywhere on Christmas eve will knock the Christmas spirit out of anyone!

The thing that truly rekindled my love affair with the festive period was becoming a teacher.  Working in a school means you are totally immersed in Christmas for at least the whole of December (and November if your class are involved in the Christmas production).  It is just so lovely to see the excitement on the children's faces as you make Christmas cards and calendars.  You also usually have a carol concert and a school Christmas party which is super cute too! Although, it is near impossible to get your class to concentrate at this time of year; I see the run up to Christmas as a true perk to being a teacher.  I have really missed all the school festivities this year. Teaching internationally means you teach children from lots of different backgrounds and cultures so often Christmas is just not acknowledged in school.  Sam and I have found this hard, with the hot weather and things running as usual at school, we usually forgot it was nearly Christmas until we got home and saw the tree!

Obviously being a mama means that Christmas is one of the most exciting things ever! I get so excited daydreaming about Christmas morning and seeing the delight in their faces. I sometimes feel like I don't get the time I would like to make the festive period as magical as possible for my children.  This year, especially as we are away from  home, I am trying really hard to make it as magical as possible. With all the usual things like our elf coming to stay and doing lots of festive crafts and baking.  We have even played in fake snow which is something I hope to never forget!

As a result of wanting to make it as magical as possible Sam and I started our own traditions on Posey's first Christmas and we have continued to add to them each year.  Here they are...

  • Advent calendars-  one for each of us (including mama and daddy) We also have an advent calendar between the littles with sweet treats in or little activities that we are going to do.  The little boxes we used this year are super cute and were from Ikea. 
  • Christmas books - we have our usual traditional one, 'Twas the night before Christmas' which we read every Christmas eve.  But another popular one that we love to read especially at Christmas is Stickman.  Our new one this year (which the children will open in their Christmas Eve Box) is Santa comes to Abu Dhabi. 
  • Christmas Eve Boxes - The children have personalised Christmas Eve Boxes which their lovely Mamar made for them.  We fill these with the usual things like Christmas craft activities, snowman marshmellows for a hot chocolate etc...  This year though there will only be one box between them as their personalised ones are in England, stored away. 
  • Christmas PJ's - Each year all four of us get a new set of festive PJ's. At first we used to give these on Christmas eve as that is what I did when I was a child.  This year though, the elf brought the children their PJ's on December 1st.  We thought that would be better as the children will get more wear of them and it kicks off the festive period in a lovely way! 
  • Writing Christmas cards- ordinarily I would be sending Christmas cards to all our friends and family but this year we have just used Funky Pigeon to send a couple of special ones to the UK. 
  • Fulfilling a tree's Christmas Wish - Sam and I once saved a real Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.  We popped to Ikea for something (I think it was just a veggie meatballs pregnancy craving if I am honest).  We were sat eating and we heard an announcement saying there were some trees in the foyer that people could take otherwise they would be thrown away.  As we left the store there was one tree remaining.  We took it home and honestly it was such a beautiful tree.  We bought some decorations in a sale at a nearby garden centre and decorated it on Christmas Eve afternoon.  It was just so lovely and so festive.  We have decided to go and check in Ikea over here if there are any trees left on Christmas Eve and if there are we will buy it and fulfill it's Christmas wish. :)  This is a tradition I hope to continue each year when we move back to the UK too. 
  • Christmas films- Every December I cram in as many Christmas films as I possibly can.  It is far too difficult to name my absolute favourite.  But Posey and Lochlann definitely seem to favour Elf and Sam's firm favourite is Home Alone 2.  As a child, the favourites I remember are A Muppet's Christmas Carol and Miracle on 34th Street. 

Some other firm traditions in for our family include;

Decorating the tree; a family affair. 

Putting up our decorations on the first weekend of December. - As soon as December hits I am eager to get those lights up and trim that tree.  At first we did it as a surprise for the children when they were little.  Sam and I would decorate it and then we could carry them down the next morning and they would be mesmerized by the lights.  This year though, we decorated the tree altogether and it was just lovely   Our new tradition for us is that Posey puts the star on the top of the tree with her daddy, as she is the eldest.

A new decoration each. 

Each year (as I am sure many of you all do too) we go to our local garden centre to enjoy all the festive displays and to choose a new decoration each.  We usually go to Bents Garden Centre in Leigh, North West England.  This year, is a little different, as of course we are now living in Abu Dhabi.  So instead we popped down to Ace which is basically like B&Q in the UK.    This year Posey choose a fairy, Lochlann chose a golden robot and  Sam chose a traditional Father Christmas bauble. We also popped into Marks and Spencer's here and bought a couple of lovely decorations and some luxury mince pies!  They had a lovely selection of baubles and tree ornaments.   I chose a gold bauble decorated with a leaf garland design with, 'Merry Christmas 2017' written in red, glittery lettering from M&S.

Twas the night before Christmas.

Again, this is another tradition which I am sure is very popular.  We read this story every Christmas eve at bedtime.  For us, this tradition started when P was still in my tummy.  I will always remember Sam reading to my bump and thinking about the magical Christmases ahead of us.  One of my most favourite memories.

Christmas Eve: Open house. 

We started this tradition last year.  After many a year driving back and to between different family homes we decided that Christmas day would be spent at home, just us.  Therefore we decided that Christmas Eve would be sort of a festive open house.  Any family or friends could drop in for a mince pie and a mulled wine and spend some time with us and children.  That way all the gifts would be exchanged and we didn't need to worry that we hadn't seen anyone on Christmas day.

Mince Pie Night. 

Since we moved into our first house together Sam and I have held a little festive shindig where we invite a small group of friends over for a homemade mulled wine, homemade yule log and mince pies.  With twinkly lights everywhere, Christmas music playing and some tasty treats it is usually one of our most favourite evenings of the year. Sam really enjoys hosting this little evening in our home and I love to see how much he enjoys making the homemade treats for it. We hope to continue the tradition when we move back to the UK.

Although, I am pretty sure I have missed something off those are our Christmas traditions.  I love the run up to Christmas so much I sometimes think I love it more than the actual day itself.  Christmas Eve is easily my most favourite day.  The excitement in the air is almost tangible.

I hope you are enjoying the festive season and if you are still here, thank you for reading this mammoth post! I hope you enjoyed it.  I would love for you to let me know some of your special traditions and the reasons behind them.

Thank you for stopping by & a very Merry Christmas from my family to yours.

Lots of love,

Holly xx

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