My memories of Christmas as a child are nothing but wonderful. Of course I remember the presents we were given from Santa, our parents, family and friends but they’re not what made Christmas magical every year.
The things that really stick with me are the little things we did as a family. When my parents bought a video camera we would film the present opening every year.
It would start in the morning, with us in our best clothes, sat around the Christmas Tree. Before we started opening our presents my brother and I would sing a Christmas song. One year my brother sat with his back to the camera as he had a really bad case of Chicken Pox.
If we hadn’t already been given our “big” present we would have to hide in the hallway with one of our new toys whilst our parents set up the present. We would sit in the hallway talking about what we thought it could be and which of our presents so far was our favourite.
We were also allowed a little present at the bottom of our beds on Christmas Eve. It was left up to us if we wanted to open it before we went to sleep, or wait until the morning when we woke up.
It was wonderful sharing Christmas with my twin brother too of course. Getting to share the excitement and magic with him really helped to make my Christmases perfect, I couldn’t imagine not sharing Christmas with him when I was a child.
Our parents would take us to garden centres to see all of the lights, the trees and maybe to visit Santa. Visiting garden centres to see Christmas lights is something I now continue with my boys. There’s nothing like walking around picking out your favourite baubles on each display, choosing our favourite lights and talking about our own decorations at home.
Visiting decorated houses also sticks in my mind. There was one in particular that was covered in lights, the whole front of the house, the roof, the front garden, the back garden and every room in the house. The owners opened up their home to the public for a donation to charity. It was beautiful, if a little OTT, but it was a fantastic way to get into the Christmas spirit, and to share it with other people in the community.
My dad would drive us all around town, searching for the houses with the most lights. We would drive out of our town, 10-15 miles away, just to keep our Christmas spirit high. It was wonderful. We would be wrapped up in blankets in the back of the car and would pull up outside the houses if we could, or just drive past slowly if there was nowhere to stop.
Again, this is something I have done with the boys and last year, every night after preschool, I would drive a different way home which would sometimes involve quite a big detour just so we could explore the different decorations. There is one in particular that I absolutely love, it’s not Christmas until this house has it’s lights up, and Charles now refers to it as “mummy’s house” simply because it’s my favourite.
I think my parents really taught me that it’s not just the big presents that make Christmas special. It’s the little things too, the little things that don’t cost a lot of money and are more often than not free. The things that bring you together as a family that you can enjoy and appreciate together.