….I love about Christmas
This post came about as a result of something we were talking about last week. We were talking to a group of children about what was coming up in the next few weeks and what they were looking forward to. They all said “CHRISTMAS!!!!”, which is unsurprising as I have to agree with them. It got me thinking about what it was about Christmas that I was looking forward to in particular, and so I’ve compiled this list to break it down a little. How many of these do you agree with? What would you change or add to it? Please link up with my post and let me know what your own list is.
In no particular order, here’s my list:
1. Music – as a musician, music naturally plays a big part of my life but at Christmas it really gets exciting for me. A lot of the stuff we hear is what we’ve heard a million times before but in lots of ways that is what I love about it. Sounds strange when you think that there are only probably 40 or 50 pop songs that get aired around Christmas time – the SAME 40 or 50 pop songs – but I listen to a lot of classical music too. Some of these pieces are only really appropriate to listen to at this time of the year, but there is so much to choose from I never get bored. Add to that the carols in all their various settings and arrangements and I’m in heaven. I listen to music, I watch music, I perform music and I (now) conduct music. Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without it for me.
2. Candles – I love candles! I would live by candle-light all year round if I could. They give such a warm and welcoming glow for one thing, and the smell just of a basic candle is comforting and reassuring too. There’s something primal about naked flames and in the absence of a real fire candles are a more-than-adequate substitute.
3. Smells – the smell of food cooking, the smell of a real Christmas tree, the smell of greenery round the fireplace, the smell of mulled wine, the smell of scented candles, the cinammon and citrus smell of biscuits and cookies on the tree, the smell of frosty mornings, snow in the air…… oh wow Christmas cannot be beaten when it comes to stimulating scents!
4. TV – a lot of people complain about repeats on TV at Christmas but I love them. Like the music point above, the reassurance of the familiarity of things on TV is one of the things that relaxes me at Christmas. Some things are pure cheese and what’s wrong with that? Who wants to be intellectually challenged when they’re stuffed full of Christmas dinner and mince pies?? There’s always a good choice of films on TV too. Perfect for snuggles on the settee with the kids.
5. Family – speaking of snuggling up with the kids, what better time of year is there for spending time with loved ones? I know there are plenty of people out there who don’t have that privilege and I am oh so grateful for the time I can spend with mine. The teamwork involved in getting the dinner ready, the cameraderie of clearing the kitchen afterwards, the fun (and arguments) when it comes to playing games together later on, the vegging out in front of the telly when visitors have gone home again….ah bliss!
6. Food – I adore my Christmas dinner. Every family has their own version of the “traditional” Christmas dinner and mine is no exception. I have tried varying things a little over the years and we have arrived at a more or less agreed menu for the big day. We have turkey, pork, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, carrots, sprouts, stuffing, cauliflower cheese, braised red cabbage, mashed potatoes, pigs in blankets, gravy, cranberry sauce and apple sauce. Not everyone has everything, and there is always plenty of leftovers to last us a few days. We might have a starter, we might not. We might have dessert, we might not….but we probably will!! We don’t tend to have Christmas pudding but there is always a home-made trifle, mince pies, Christmas cake and an emergency microwavable pudding to hand in case someone fancies it later on. I suppose I should add the category “drink” to this point too. I don’t tend to drink a lot week by week, and at Christmas I do like to push the boat out a bit. Not a lot, but bucks fizz at some point and a glass or four of sherry while cooking the dinner is usually the norm! I like mulled wine too, which is a nice indulgence when I visit the German markets in Manchester city centre. I quite like it at the Carol Service in church too….mmmmm…..!
7. Games – this ties in with the family point above. We like to play games at Christmas, whether it’s on Boxing Day or the big day itself. Monopoly, Cluedo, games on the Wii, Twister (better when everyone’s had a drink), cards, Buckaroo etc all good fun! We also like to play games with presents as well. I suppose it would be more accurate to call it “subterfuge”….but hiding and disguising presents are all part of the fun for us in my family. We rarely label gifts from ourselves and we have evolved a highly detailed “other world” where Santa lives with his plethora of supporting characters that send gifts on our behalf. For example, I will send a gift to my Dad and instead of saying “lots of love from Pam” I would label it “lots of love from Rudolph’s Chief Mucker-Outer” or some such. There is an unspoken competition between us as to who can come up with the most outrageous/funny/original description of a character from this Santa-land that we have invented. Well, it keeps us amused!
8. Treats – not that we go without treats the rest of the year, but the treats around Christmas time are ten times better aren’t they? A Christmas trip to the cinema becomes a big treat; certain sweets and food that appears around this time (I’m thinking brandy snaps and Elizabeth Arden mint crisps here); speciality cheese that I wouldn’t dream of buying the rest of the year (Stilton anyone?); the bottle of port that becomes a Christmas Eve necessity while watching Carols from Kings on BBC2; fresh flowers on the fireplace; late nights for the kids; those jellied fruits that don’t taste quite as nice as they do in December…..oh the list goes on!
9. Peace – after all the rush of concerts, rehearsals, services, carolling, shopping, cleaning, cooking, visiting etc the thing I love most of all about Christmas is the sense of peace that it gives me. That might sound strange when you think about the constant activity we have in the run-up to Christmas Day, but there are certain times where the peace of the season breaks through and is a beautiful thing to experience. I usually feel it at the Crib Service on Christmas Eve, and after the big day itself I tend to go into hibernation for a few days. We hunker down with our leftovers, the TV and each other and enjoy the peace of home together.
10. Love – throughout everything at Christmas runs a thread that for me can only be summed up by “love”. Love for family, love for strangers, love for God. Whatever I do is underpinned by that emotion so whether it is standing out in the cold playing carols for shoppers as they go about their last minute shopping at the supermarket or serving Christmas dinner with the Home Start volunteers for needy families in the parish as we did last weekend, it is all done with love. I know I am a lucky girl with the family and friends I have around me, and Christmas is the season that brings it all home to me.
So, what’s your list? How does yours compare with mine? Have I missed something, or do you disagree with something? Please drop me a line and let me know!