Letter From Father Christmas - Polar Post £20.95 (available here)
I think I was about 10 when I got a hamster for Christmas, give or take a year or two. And I remember getting some clothes which I believed made me instantly look cool (pretty sure they didn’t) a year or two after… after that, I’m struggling. I’m struggling to remember any more presents I got as a child. Not that I’m ungrateful, quite the opposite, it’s just that I don’t think they’re that important.
What I do remember however, is writing a letter to Father Christmas each year and poking it behind the outside light for the robins to take away. I remember listening out for sleigh bells (which was my Dad ringing a small bell downstairs) and swearing blind I could see a sleigh in the night sky. I remember going to the live crib service each year to see which poor local mum had been roped in to sitting in a cold church hall with a new born. I remember going to the pub with my cousins on Christmas Eve, always drinking too much and almost regretting it when we all stood in church the following morning, struggling to hold it together. We aren’t a church going family, this just became something we did on Christmas morning. A tradition. Memories that I share with my whole family. I could go on and on. I have so many memories of Christmases past and none of them are about the presents I got.
A few years ago I bought a second hand ottoman, spend months reupholstering it and then filled it with fancy dress clothes for my daughter. If anyone asked her what she had for Christmas she’d tell them she got a skipping rope. A skipping rope?!?! What about the fancy dress box!?!? This got me thinking about what I remembered about Christmases and began to build our own family traditions. Already my daughter talks about the puppet service the local church put on on Christmas Eve, and can she go back this year. We try and find a local Christmas play to go and watch. We write a letter, put it in our special envelope and pop it behind the outside light. We pop to a neighbours for a festive drink on Christmas morning, the list goes on. We aren’t quite boozing in the pub on Christmas Eve but I’m sure we’ll get there. For us, this is what makes Christmas special, not queuing up in Smyths Toys to buy a hatchimal…
So, maybe this year try to start a new tradition. It might be the elf on the shelf, or new Christmas books, a Christmas poem each day of advent, a special walk, doing something for the neighbours, making Christmas cards together, Christmas movies, making the Christmas cake. It doesn’t have to be expensive, or time consuming. Find something your family love doing, and make it your tradition. Imagine that feeling when you hear how your child remembers it years down the line, realises the efforts you expended to make their time special and maybe continues that tradition with their own children.
Even the Grinch got it right in the end… “Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”