Christmas Day always gets me feeling nostalgic for Christmasses past, grateful for Christmasses present and hopeful for Christmasses yet-to-come. I thought this a fantastic time to share with you the marvellous Christmas traditions that I have carried with me from childhood and which I delight in sharing with my children now. I wish you a very Merry Christmas as you celebrate Christmas with your loved ones in your own very special way.
Christmas during my childhood
While many festive traditions have remained, Christmas has definitely changed a bit since I was a kid. As a young lad, I remember a hugely popular decoration was angel hair on the Christmas tree—you don’t see much of that nowadays! So too, artificial Christmas trees really looked artificial when I was a youngster, whereas now they do a very good impression of the real thing.
Something that I really miss these days is carol singers on the doorstep, ringing the bell and serenading you with the jolly strains of ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ and old faithfuls like ‘Away in a Manger.’ They used to come round a lot when I was little but you don’t see them so much anymore.
Of course, going to see Father Christmas to tell him what you wanted is a tradition that’s carried on, but when I was a kid you’d go to see him at a department store, today you go and see him at the garden centre. So, I guess you could say that Father Christmas has moved with me! Something else that’s changed is the variety of Christmas trees available. When I was young, everyone had a Norway spruce and everyone had a bare tree by Christmas Day! These days you can get varieties that don’t drop their needles, like the blue spruce and Nordmann fir. The bonus is you don’t get needles stuck in your feet, but unfortunately you lose that beautiful pine smell that makes your house smell like Christmas.
Today’s Christmas in my household
In our house, we have advent calendars counting down the days to Christmas, Poinsettias, garlands of holly and ivy strewn about the place and an enormous Christmas tree topped with a dainty fairy. We put up a miniature Christmas village—complete with tiny ice rink—which the kids absolutely love.
Our home is festooned inside and out with decorative Christmas lights in all the colours of the rainbow.
On Christmas Eve, we attend a candlelit carol service before returning home to leave a carrot for Rudolph, as well as a mince pie and a Sherry for Santa.
I also leave Santa’s footprints for my children to find in the morning by dusting my wellies with flour and tramping through the house in them. I love the look on their faces on Christmas morning as I go down to make Daddy’s Christmas breakfast, like my father made for me when I was a child.
Of course, a huge part of what makes Christmas so special is the dinner! Yorkshire puddings, sprouts, peas and carrots, as well as a bird done just right make for a great spread—although it doesn’t have to be turkey in my household.
All this has to be topped with lashings of gravy and accompanied by sweet cranberry sauce. Delicious.
In my family, we also make homemade crackers for on the Christmas table. They contain colourful paper hats, a gift and a lottery scratch card in case someone is feeling lucky.
It all takes place around a beautiful Christmas centrepiece full of spruce, holly, ivy and pine cones, which I am gifted every year as a Governor of Capel Manor College.
This year, we’ll be having all the family round for a big feast on Christmas Day at which we’ll be serving cockerel. We’re having this again this year after huge success with it last year – there wasn’t a morsel left. I can’t wait to see my children’s reactions when they open their big pile of presents and I’m looking forward to our signature Christmas walk to aid digestion…!
A merry Christmas to all
After the festivities of Christmas, I hope you will all join me on boxing day, back in the garden and looking forward to the year ahead. Now is the perfect time to be improving your soil by digging over borders, adding organic matter and fertilisers. These will break down and enrich your soil with nutrients ready to nourish your plants next year. It’s the perfect way to end the old year—by preparing your garden for the new.
Merry Christmas to all our friends and supporters who have supported us throughout 2018.