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Doing Christmas Properly. Thursday December 25, 2014

Growing up, we did Christmas properly of course.

We children would wake up early and eagerly peer down to the bottom of the bed to see what Father Christmas had brought us. Father Christmas, you note; never Santa.

We could play quietly with our new acquisitions until half past seven when it was Time To Get Up. Breakfast was at nine sharp: boiled eggs; and then we were allowed to open one present from a school friend before church.

Christmas Day Lunch was served promptly at twelve thirty (my mother usually had some kind of nervous breakdown at eleven forty-five) and was the Proper Turkey followed by Proper Christmas Pudding. The bottle of rum had its annual outing to flavour the sauce.

At three we would all sit and watch the Queen in solemn silence and only after her majesty had finished speaking could we all open presents, in strict rotation, carefully folding the wrapping paper to be used again.

Then there was Christmas Tea with Christmas Cake and Mince Pies (all these home made by my martyred mother of course) then a film on television and then bed.

We lived with my Grandfather, you see. He had been born in the last century, was a Lancashire Puritan (it's what Scottish Puritans aspire to become when they graduate) and was very strict.

Imagine my surprise, when I was first married and found out that other families Do Things Differently. Other families start the day with champagne and smoked salmon; other families gleefully rip open every single present before breakfast in one great maelstrom of shredded wrapping paper; other families have their dinner in the evening; they have beef instead of turkey; some families don't even watch the Queen!

Gradually, over the years, I have relaxed my stance on Christmas traditions. We do now open all our presents in the morning; this year we're having beef brisket with shallots and tangerines because it will travel well the hundred miles to the in-laws. I've learned that the best Christmas traditions are flexible and adapt to circumstances.

My husband would rather have beans on toast than see me having a nervous breakdown over Christmas lunch (and he doesn't even like beans). He'd rather have a relaxing day than all the bangs and whistles.

I've learned that you can keep traditions, break traditions and make new traditions with Christmas, while still keeping its true meaning.

So we still go to church to hear the Christmas story and yes, I still make them all watch the Queen.

So A Happy and Relaxed Christmas to you, your Majesty and to all your subjects too! (And indeed to you all, wherever you are in the world.)

Mary and The Moodscope Team

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Hopeful One Thu, Dec 25th 2014 @ 6:20am

Thank you Mary and the Moodscope Team. Believe me your efforts are truely
appreciated . They have made more of a difference to this life than you can imagine. Mery Xmas and Happy New Year to you all.

My Xmas starts when my 92 year old mother in law , who can do a one star Daily Mail Suduku in 2 min and 39 sec, blows the whistle after breakfast to open the presents . And that won't be until 10am at least !So I will let the anticipation build up until then which I think is half the fun.

Sarah Thu, Dec 25th 2014 @ 7:02am

Thank you Mary and the Moodscope team and members. Like you Mary as children we opened our presents from Father Christmas while still in bed. But my children started their own tradition which was to wait until Mum and Dad got up, so we could go down stairs and watch. I have very happy memories of this as there was a lot of excitement and as you say ripping of paper. One year Father Christmas had left 3 presents stuck up the chimney (my idea). Sometimes seeing other's happiness is the best reward. After that we used to have pate on toast play songs and open our presents to each other. When I was young we had to wait until late afternoon or evening. I never felt my Mother was excited though. Unlike me with my children I always seem to get more excited than them. Mary you are so right about traditions though. They can be adapted. Whatever memories or traditions Happy Chritmas moodscopers

Anonymous Thu, Dec 25th 2014 @ 8:15am

Thank you for a brilliant piece of writing as well as wise words, Mary. Xx I wish you and your family all the right you are about the best Christmas traditions being flexible and adapting to circumstances. Firmly believe that, but hadn't realised I did until you expressed it so well. :-) bless you and many happy returns of your writing is what I personally wish for this Christmas. Truly.

C A Morgan Thu, Dec 25th 2014 @ 9:35am

Happy Christmas everyone.

I've had to adapt to a number of different traditions over the years and today have a new one which is the day to myself. So starting with a luxurious breakfast in bed and watching 'The Snowman' on TV. Presents still to come.

Hope everyone has a good day wherever they are and however the day is spent whether that is with relatives, friends or alone.

Anonymous Thu, Dec 25th 2014 @ 10:00am

Hi, we are having a different Xmas this year as my father has just suffered a major stroke and is in hospital, we are splitting into groups to go in and spend time with him and will be reading Day of the Triffids (his choice, chosen through hand squeezing) to him. We'll then adjourn for dinner and after that make another round of visits. It won't be the same, but its great to be able to spend the time with him as we didn't know if we would have the opportunity to a couple of weeks ago and for that we are thankful. Thanks for your Xmas blog and posts and cheer.

Anonymous Thu, Dec 25th 2014 @ 2:02pm

Thank you Mary, and a very peaceful Christmas to my fellow moodscopers xx

Julia Thu, Dec 25th 2014 @ 3:38pm

I do hope your Christmas day goes well and your father is well enough to appreciate you all being there for him. I remember going to visit my father on Boxing day in hospital. He was very old but it was a nice time actually and I remember the visit and him with affection. Let's hope your father recovers soon and you have a very happy 2015.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Thu, Dec 25th 2014 @ 10:24pm

Having just returned from the in -laws; bittersweet as we don't if we will be blessed with another. Thankyou all above for your Christmas wishes and sharing your own traditions. I particuarly like the blowing of the whistle and FC leaving presents stuck up the chimney. See you all soon.

Anonymous Fri, Dec 26th 2014 @ 10:54am

Thanks Julia, looking forward to positive things in 2015

Anonymous Fri, Dec 26th 2014 @ 10:22pm

Belated merry Christmas to all! Love ratg x.
p.s. Mary, I picture something along the lines of an Enid Blyton book when you described your original Christmas days. Part of me craves that order :-)

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