It has come and gone and I can genuinely say that at one point I felt so overwhelmed with happiness there may have been tear shed-dage. I know…What has motherhood done to me?
Christmas, for me, always brings up a lot of cultural conversations. Each year, I’ll be sitting around a table around mid-December when someone will ask, “Isn’t Christmas Eve when Americans celebrate?” To be honest, I don’t really know. Perhaps it seems a bit odd that I’m dubious about this tradition in the good old US of A, but I can only really say what I know from experience. In my case, this stereotype is pretty accurate.
Christmas Eve 1980-something: My Dad would be in the middle of trying to get us to shake our Christmas presents when my Mom would order us into our Christmas dresses around 3-4pm. With slow-cooked baked beans in tow, we would pile into the mini-van and make a short trip to an extended family member’s house to celebrate with aunts, uncles, and cousins. And with 25-ish cousins on my Mom’s side alone, these were not small occasions. After celebrating with my Mom’s
small army family, we’d then head to my Dad’s side, where my grandma would literally pinch our cheeks, before we went home around 10-11pm (or at least it felt that late, as a kid) and crashed for the evening. End scene.
You Brits could learn something from this, since I’m pretty sure we always came home exhausted. Having problems getting your kid to sleep because he’s too amped up about Father Christmas? Visit your families on Christmas Eve for hours. Make them run military drills with their cousins. “Clean up the wrapping paper! Move! Move! Move!” Have sausage roll eating competitions with Uncle Bob. Full bellies equal tired eyes or it could equal the wonderful gift of cleaning vomit out of a mini-van into the early hours of Christmas morning. But that’s unlikely – I really think you’ll thank me in the years to come.
Since moving to the UK, Christmas Eve is somewhat of a nothing day, characterized by those state-the-obvious facebookers putting up statues that say something like, “OMG– It’s Christmas Eve!” I spent the Eve running around town picking up last bits of pieces for our Christmas Day lunch, cooking and baking, and wrapping presents. And we spent the evening lounging around with friends. There was no familial merriment. It was a day to get ready for THE day.
Maybe you’re asking what the Brits do on Christmas Day, then. Here is our family’s break-down:
- 9am – Up prepping the Christmas Ham. (Well, more like 9.20am. What? I’m not good with alarms.)
- 11am – Christmas Day Church Service where the kids are always asked to show what presents they’ve received. The poor little chap behind us was whimpering for the last 10 minutes of the service. And we found out that the earliest risers were at 3.30am. Seriously, people? I’d have a jolly old assault charge on my record against Old St. Nick if The Duchess ever tried to pull that.
- 12pm – Back home to finish preparations for lunch. That ham needed a lot of TLC. Between the number of times I tenderly cared for it by turning it and poured the resting juices over it, you’d think it had paid for some kind of Christmas Ham Spa Day.
- 1.15pm – The Duchess is passed out in the front room (that’s my girl!) and we go in to wake her so we can open presents.
- 2pm – Finally, eating our buffet style family lunch.
- 3pm –
Watch the Queen’s Christmas Day SpeechSkype with family in America.
- 4pm – Head to in-laws for present opening and Christmas dinner. We had goose for the second year running. How English!
- 8.30pm –The Duchess sleeps for the 10 minute car journey, wakes up and then thinks it’s time to play. I honestly had no idea that at 6 months old a person could get that hyper. I’m telling you people, that child was wound up.
- 10.15pm –She finally settles down and The Native and I watch a traditional Christmas Day film. Super 8, in this case. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up.
It was a day sprinkled with new traditions that will make up our life as a family. Yesterday was the Christmas that will define us as a family in the years to come. It will be the Christmas that The Duchess will reminisce about when she grows up.
How do you celebrate?