I have struggled to feel festive this year, so to help with boosting mine and everyone's Christmas spirit (if decorating the tree and sipping gingerbread lattes haven't helped enough!) I have asked some of my favourite bloggers to share their wonderful Christmas traditions. First up is the beautiful Alice from The Cup and Saucer. She literally makes me want to pack my suitcase and book a train ticket to hers for the big day!
"Christmas for us completely starts on Christmas Eve. The whole of my mama's side of the family descend in the early evening, and we greet my aunt, uncle, cousin, and cousin's partner at the door, running outside in slippers and without coats to help bring in the presents, wine, and chocolates. We pile into the living room, perching on the arms of chairs, sitting cross legged on the floor, and squashing onto the sofa to sip steaming mugs of mulled wine and catch up on the happenings of the past few weeks. Mama calls us to the table, and we gather for a big family supper, where we call over to each other to "Pass the salad!" and ask if anyone wants more wine.
Supper finished, we bundle ourselves up in coats and scarves, and brave the outside to trot up the hill to our local pub. We commandeer an enormous table in the corner of the lounge bar and hold court for our local friends, while my grandad refuses to let any of us buy a round. The under-30s dash off into the back bar for games of pool, darts, and music loud enough to blow our heads off, while we chatter to the friends we've known since pre-school and who we only see once or twice a year, when everyone returns to the shire for a little bit of family time. It's funny, isn't it, how there are some people who you may only see once or twice a year, but who you can always chatter to like it was just yesterday? We to-and-fro between friends and family, laughing as my grandparents inevitably win something in the Christmas raffle and chattering happily to pretty much everyone we see.
Midnight comes, and we sing Christmas carols as we stumble down the hill, laughing at ourselves for forgetting the torches again. Inevitably, someone reminds us all of the year (it must have been around 2009) when Christmas Eve was so icy that my grandad and uncle had to crawl down the hill, and my brother slid down the hill as though he was on a skateboard, and we chuckle and thank our lucky stars it isn't like that again this year. Safely home, we stand in the garden and look up at the sky, hoping to spot something flying through the sky which might just be Father Christmas and his reindeer. R and I rearrange all the presents under the tree to make them as photogenic as possible, and then with kisses and Christmas wishes, we all stumble off to our beds.
Christmas morning arrives and everyone piles into my mum's room and onto her bed to open stockings. We squeal and giggle and tickle each other, throwing screwed up balls of wrapping paper at each other and thanking Mama for the hard work she puts into our stockings. We take it in turns to shower and dress, and gather around the table for croissants, pain au chocolat, fruit, yoghurt, juice and coffee. My grandad stokes up the fire, and we settle in for the serious business of present opening.
While everyone plays with their new gifts, Mama and I take care of lunch- which inevitably ends up being served around 3pm-4pm. It's a full on feast of turkey, pigs in blankets, parmesan parsnips, and full on proper gravy, spiked with yet more wine. We cram around a table that isn't really big enough for 11 people, and swap potatoes for parsnips, sprouts for the gravy, and generally eat until our stomachs are fit to burst.
Sleepy and postprandial, we slowly migrate back to the lounge for a little relax. But normally, Mama has other plans. After a wee rest and cups of mint tea (in my case) and digestives (in my brothers' cases), Mama cracks out her annual Christmas quiz. Names are pulled, we're gathered into teams, and the competitiveness begins. I inevitably win (I'm knowledgeable and competitive in equal measures, it seems), and then we crack out the board games. Giggles abound, and it's all fun and games until someone (*cough* me *cough*) suggests the After Eight game and things start to get a little messy.
And somewhere around 10pm, our stomachs start to have just a little space, and we crack out the cheese and port, and the odd piece of lemon cheesecake. We loll around, chattering sleepily and showing each other our gifts, reiterating our thanks and generally feeling happy. A film is put on, and we snuggle in for the evening before heading to bed, happy, full, and tired.
And so Christmas is over for another year."