It’s the simple things I remember!
I watch lots of people going here there and everywhere in the Christmas rush and sometimes I feel totally guilty that we aren’t doing the same. It's easy to get caught up in the crowd and find yourself doing the same as everyone else just because you feel you need to. With it comes the added tiredness as you feel like you have to do ALL these things and then along with it the spiralling cost, at a time when you’re already pretty stretched.
We’ve always made a point of doing Christmas our own way, in a way which suits our family. We don’t mind feeling like we are swimming against the tide and aren’t doing things ‘normal’ people do but there is always that part of my heart that as a mother starts to worry, are we giving our children the right or the best experience we can.
The other week the most marvelous thing happened that made me realise we are. Marks and Spencer’s Christmas food was released online and as I sat after dinner showing Mr. OMC photos of treats that looked incredibly tempting Big Coffee Bean said something that melted my heart.
He was totally excited looking at all the Christmas food and then he announced ‘Mummy I would like to help you make the Christmas food this year.’ The excitement on his face was clear, he really meant it! He wants to help set out the table for our Christmas day buffet and he wants to be in the kitchen helping me prepare the food to be put out.
I mean honestly I’m surprised my heart didn’t burst out of my chest with joy, this little 7 year old was excited about Christmas but he wasn’t excited about visiting a host of places or getting the latest toy he was excited about being at home and spending time with the family. He was excited about the simple things.
It made me take a step back and think about what I used to love at Christmas. When I thought about it, loads of my best memories were just simple things. They weren’t based on huge budgets or big trips and perhaps this year, in 2020, more than ever we need to remember that the best memories can be made out of the most simple moments.
So I thought I’d share with you a reminisce some of those lasting memories I have from Christmas as a child. These are the ones that bring joy to my heart and create the biggest smile when I think about them and who knows maybe some are the same for you?
I loved a good Christmas buffet, I mean I still do! The rest of the year we ate what we were given or we went without, so buffets were a big treat. Not to mention cocktail sticks…when they came out it always seemed like a proper party!
Every year I would compete with my Dad to guess the time and day that The Snowman would be on TV. He would usually win and it took me years to realise that that’s because it’s generally on on the same day at the same time each year! For me this game was fun year after year, becoming almost traditional and it still makes me smile now.
The gas fire
We didn’t have central heating so it was just the fire in the living room giving warmth, which I think is why even now I find something really comforting about a gas fire. It’s not even just the sitting in front of it feeling toasty warm, it’s also the sound it makes. Gas fires have this quiet hissing sound and that just draws me straight back to my childhood. When you couple that with the Christmas tree being up and the firelight glistening off the shiny tree baubles I am literally in heaven!
Boxing day at my Grandparents
On Boxing Day we would always go to my grandparents house and there would always be a mega buffet and my granddad would be there cutting the turkey with an electric knife. As an adult I now have no idea why he used an electric knife? Maybe its because this was, after all, the 80’s it was probably thought to be the height of sophistication. I’m sure it didn’t make much difference to using a normal knife apart from the fact that it shredded the meat like a hedge trimmer. The rest of the year it then just sat in its box in the cupboard so obviously it wasn’t the most useful piece of kit!!
The posh cutlery
I don’t know if this is still a thing but the posh cutlery and dinner service always came out for Christmas Dinner. Any time this came out you knew it was special occasion! In fact it was so infrequently used that it very often all got washed before hand too just to make sure it was clean and shiny! The thing is now in my own home I still do this. We have a canteen of cutlery that is reserved for high days and holidays and I have to say it brings me so much joy to get it out of the cupboard!
Christmas decorations on the ceiling
I am of the generation where foil garlands and collapsible oversized hanging foil wreaths and baubles would adorn the ceiling of the living room as part of the Christmas decorations. What is it with them? Why do they attract children like a magpie to shiny things? They might have been hung on the ceiling but even still as a child I felt the need to get as high as I could so that I could just touch them or spin them round and watch as the coloured reflections shone on the walls. This was, however, always a tricky business. Firstly you had to make sure that you didn’t get caught in the act, balancing on the back of the sofa (naughty!) trying to reach them and secondly when you did reach them you hoped that as you spun it around it wouldn’t fall down and then you’d have to go groveling to your parents ‘Mum I didn’t mean to, it was an accident’!!!
The Giant Orange
Every year we had a giant orange in the bottom of our stockings and for me this meant only one thing. This was the only time of the year where my Mums lemon juicer got an outing from the kitchen cupboard as I tried to make a cup of fresh orange juice. I’m never sure why I bothered, in reality I used to get a quarter of a glass of juice (pulp!) and then I’d be moaned at about where I made the kitchen table all sticky from spilling it everywhere whilst juicing. Never the less this was a yearly tradition!
Christmas tree lights
Not the actual lights themselves but the turning on of the tree lights everyday, what a treat this always seemed to be! As a child tree lights didn’t have automatic timers on them nor did they come with remote controls. These were ‘good’ old fashioned ‘may easily cause a fire’ Christmas tree lights! When you wanted the lights on firstly you always had to ask a parent and if you were luck they’d yes. Next came the adventure as you were allowed to make your way, usually on your hands and knees (of even flat on your stomach!) under the tree through the mass of electric cables, sockets and extensions. These were usually hidden behind the back of the TV and your task was to find the plug for the lights and a space to plug it in. I mean really its no wonder that there were so many house fires back in the 80’s with electricity cables and plug socket overloaded!
Are chocolates on the Christmas tree still a thing? These days I only ever see them in one particular packet made by a rather well known chocolate company. As a child I remember Christmas tree chocolates being sold everywhere, in a variety of designs and made with, generally, the cheapest chocolate ever! That didn’t matter though; we still ate them with great delight like it was the best treat! The challenge was always finding a place to hang them where they were well hidden in the hope that sometimes you might be able to sneak one off the tree without having to ask for it. It never worked, my parents always knew if one went missing; how they knew where they all were I will never know!
I loved adverts, I’m that child who wasn’t interested in the program but come time for the adverts and my eyes would be glued on the screen. Even now I still eagerly await the Christmas adverts, but back then there were a couple that I couldn’t wait to see. Which were they I hear you screaming?! Well…who doesn’t remember singing along to the Toys ‘r’ us advert? Geoffrey Giraffe and his helpers, with toys all under one roof, even as an adult I could probably still sing it to you! The other is the Coca Cola advert with the holidays are coming music and giant truck covered in lights. A couple of years ago this came back on the TV oh the excitement, I felt like a child again!!
There you have it a few of my Christmas childhood memories. If you’re worrying that Christmas might not be as good as it usually is or thinking you’ll have to pull out all the stops just to try and make it memorable, think back. Sometimes it’s just the simple things that leaving a lasting impression.
If you have some memories of your own you’d like to share please add them in the comments or share on my social media page, I’d love to hear them. In my world there is nothing better than sharing some Christmas joy.x