Starting to feel a lot like Christmas!

I know everyone says it, but I really can’t believe it’s Christmas eve already! Where did this year go?

Sadly, I have had to go to work today, but that isn’t going to stop me getting into the Christmas spirit! It is one of the most magical times of the year for me. It’s a time to spend it with your family and loved ones.

I have my parents to thank for my love of Christmas. As kids, they made it so magical. They also ensured we knew the true meaning of Christmas too.

We always had a real tree that reached the ceiling. It would be placed in the bay window. Decorating it was a family affair. The more tinsel we could put on it, the better!

Our house was very old, so we were fortunate to have an open fire. Sitting in the lounge with the Christmas lights on, a warm log fire and a home made mince pie, were common place.

Santa was a big thing in the house. We would write our letters early and leave them out for Santa to take.

If we needed something like shoes or clothes, Santa would ask mum and dad to take us to try them on and buy them. We would then leave them out for him to take back to Lapland, to be delivered with the rest of our presents on Christmas Eve.

We were in the church choir, so attended all the festive services during December. Being able to appreciate the true meaning of Christmas is so important to me. I still attend church when I can on Christmas Eve. The church fete was always a must too.

On Christmas Eve, we used to go to midnight mass, where either I or my brother sang a solo of ‘Once In Royal David’s City’.

When bedtime came, we would all pick out one of my dads socks. We would proudly place them on the end of our bed! A mince pie, carrot and glass of milk or something stronger was left out for Santa and his reindeer.

Oh the excitement on Christmas morning, when there, on the end of my bed was now my Christmas Stocking. I say stocking, but it was always a sack! I often wondered what Santa did with all those socks!

We would then run into my parents bedroom with sacks in hand and sit on their bed. One by one, we would empty our sacks to see what Santa had left us. As young children it would be things like crayons, colouring books etc. As I grew older, make up would slip in. Today, my parents still do us a sack, but it is now filled with things like washing up liquid, cling film, foil, shower gels etc. It may sound weird, but it’s still one of my favourite things about Christmas. I now save this until boxing day to open, so I can savour the pleasure of it.

Once the sacks are opened, we were so excited to see what Santa had brought us. Dad always warned us not to go downstairs ourselves, just in case Santa was still there! It was ok though, as Dad could check for us. If he had been, he would put the lights on tree and light the fire as he went back up the chimney!

So every year, we would creep down stairs and wait, while dad would pop his head into the lounge and check for us! Yey, he had been!

I still remember the feeling as I walked into the room, the warmth from the fire and the bright twinkling lights on the tree, and there in 3 piles (one each for myself, and my 2 brothers), our presents. I was so excited! I didn’t care necessary what was in them. It was all about the magic of Christmas.

This routine carried on right up to my last Christmas at home, when I was 18. I don’t have children of my own, but I still love the magic of Christmas.

Christmas dinner is also a great time. As a child we would have dinner at home, just the five of us. Crackers were a must, as was the paper hat! Then a visit to both grand parents.

We always went to church Christmas morning too. I still feel it’s important to remember the real meaning behind Christmas. I do worry that sometimes it can become all about the presents, rather than the birth of Jesus.

This year, I have the family coming to me for dinner. I’ve done dinner for the last few years. I feel it is my turn to take the reigns from my parents these days. They have done it for so many years, it is nice to let them just relax and enjoy the day.

I have between 8-12 people and I love it. Cooking for this many isn’t a problem. It’s no different that cooking for 4, you just need more food! I love the noise, and seeing my family all sat around the same table, laughing and enjoying themselves.

Last year, some friends introduced me to the Nigella’s turkey recipe! You leave it in brine for a few days! It was so moist and tasty, we have done it again this year. As we speak, my turkey is soaking in a large plastic box in my garage, in a mixture which includes cinnamon sticks, oranges, onions, a mixture of spices and herbs!

I’m so excited to taste it again this year.

In all the excitement though, I still have time to remember those not as lucky as me. The homeless and those with no family around them. If I could, I would try and help them all out, but I know that is not practical. I will try to help though through charity.

I recently heard of a family who had lost everything. Someone had donated them a Christmas lunch, but the 3 children, 2 girls aged 8 and a 5 year old boy, were probably not getting anything for Christmas. I bought a little present each for them. It’s not much, but if I can help put a smile on someones face on Christmas day, especially a child, then I feel happier.

However you are spending Christmas this year, have a great time. Remember the real meaning behind it. Make it as magical and memorable as you can.

Have a lovely Christmas, and god bless everyone.

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