There is no denying, no matter how much I long to still be enjoying the summer, Christmas is almost here. In less than a blink, we will be in the depth of January, drowning in New year, New me. The Christmas lights are shining. The songs are on repeat and colleagues are either fully embracing the Christmas spirit or hiding away. Over the years Christmas has changed for me. I am no longer the child waking up at 4 am running downstairs with my sister to see what Santa has left. I am now the 27-year-old (how I wish I was still this age) who wakes at 4 am and lies in bed until members of my family will wake up and join me in my excitement. I love Christmas as an adult, there are aspects which I did not appreciate as a child which are now the core of Christmas for me. These are the small festivities which leave me counting down for December despite my protests of ‘it’s all too early’.
Wrapped up in a duvet on the sofa making my way through Christmas films always makes me feel festive. Muppet Christmas carol ‘only one more sleep ’till Christmas’, will always take me back to the Christmas Eve excitement I always longed for before drinking myself to midnight became a thing.
At work we have Christmas songs played at 3 pm each day in December, it is one of the perks I love about our company. Christmas playlists always fill me with cheer. They encompass so many memories within them.
The German festive markets have been growing in popularity over the years. I always enjoy visiting new markets. Walking around with mulled wine and trying to avoid all the chocolate delights they all sell.
Decorating my house
I was always the member of my family who decorated our family home at Christmas. Alone, always, Alone. Battling the 7-foot tree with no help. So when I moved into my own home a couple of years ago I could not wait to put my own festive touch on the place. I usually start adding bits to the house in the evenings after work. I always make sure I have a real tree which I love to pick even though the needles drive me crazy. The smell of the tree always fills the house and makes it feel festive.
Baking my own mince pies
I love mince pies, I wish I didn’t, I believe they contribute to 90% of my Christmas weight. When I say bake, I purchase the ready-made mince filling from Waitrose. It is delish, but I do make my own pastry these days, so points for that at least? – In the two years since this, I have reverted back to buying the ready-made pastry too, so no points.
Spending time with friends and family
As a child, I was unaware of how much good friends and family contributed to a perfect Christmas when I was a child. I could now hand on heart say I would leave the presents if it meant I could enjoy the festive time with the people I love. Taking a step back from the hustle of life and catching up with each other is what Christmas is about to me. I do love presents too, I am not stupid.
Visiting new festive towns and cities
England is often portrayed as the perfect Christmas destination. Snowy rooftops, roaring fires, picturesque cottages straight out of the Cotswolds. We are fortunate to have some of the prettiest towns and cities which are enhanced this time of year. I love exploring new places. Stopping to enjoy the quaint shops and uncovering an independent coffee shop. Or stumbling upon a popular pub serving mulled wine, with dogs curled up at the owner’s feet after a festive walk. These are my favourite festive days out. Especially after Christmas when you don’t want to stop all the indulging and slow way of life.
Making new traditions
Sadly as you grow older you realise the things you loved about Christmas as a child have to change. Your family dynamic changes. Whether this is the result of everyone growing up, starting their own families or going their own way. The years your Christmas traditions change can be the hardest. Yet it is always a lovely feeling when something new you enjoy evolves over the years. You let go of the things that you thought would be in your Christmas routine in the future and you feel ok about it.
Feeding the horses a big Christmas breakfast
On Christmas day we always give the horses a day off. I always look forward to my morning stroll, wishing them a Merry Christmas. Annoying them all with Christmas morning cuddles and treating them all to a big Christmas breakfast.
Switching off from work
As I have aged (and this is the lamest of all) one of the aspects of Christmas I value the most is the opportunity to switch off from work. I have a week off this year which I am already looking forward to. Long lie-ins and no pressures from the 9-5 routine. (Long gone are the days of office shutdowns, unfortunately, but I am going to Amsterdam for NYE)
I like to get my Christmas shopping finished early so I can then wrap all in one evening. I use to go all out with my wrapping but I soon learned my wrapping was only appreciated by myself and no one else. So now I spend a little less money and invest a little less time. However, I still feel excited when choosing wrapping paper. I pour myself a glass of wine and make everyone’s presents look pretty. (I have also become a lot more sustainable since this so the style has been replaced with sustainable and now I make sure my wrapping is chosen by its impact on the planet. But the wrapping and wine rule still applies.)
Olympia is a tradition in our family which I hope never changes. It is an annual horse show which takes place in London the weekend before Christmas. One of the most famous in the equestrian calendar. We never attend in person, (although I am this year for the first time) I admire the commitment of those who do so close to Christmas. However, I do I love catching up on the classes BBC televise during the run-up to Christmas. Often baking something with it on in the background or on the sofa with the family. Everyone competing embraces the festive spirit. It will be on BBC over the holidays so have a watch.
If there was ever a benchmark for becoming an adult, enjoying giving a gift over receiving one is it. I would like to think I was always a generous child even if I was a little selfish. I always believed my Mum loved the bottle of homemade perfume I made her when I was 6, still can’t believe she never used it. As an adult, I get such a lovely feeling putting thought into what to buy someone. Stumbling across something I know a family member would love.
Cheese and wine nights around a cosy log fire
Because is it even Christmas if there is no brie, Wensleydale with cranberries and crackers?
What are your favourite things to do during the festive period?