Into the last leg now - only today and tomorrow at work, my son is back from Mordor - sorry Mid-Wales ;-) - for the festivities, all the presents are wrapped - cluttering up the music room sadly but it is ok, I just can't really play electric as they are all around, over, behind, on top off the amp and my pedal board. That is ok as recently, no doubt partly influenced by seeing Juan Martin the other week, I've been pulling out the oldest guitar in my collection - my faithful old Fender FC40 classical, which my Mum bought me when I was 14 or 15. I'm back into my limited repertoire of Sor, Tarrega, Bach etc. I'm trying to learn Fauré's Pavane at the moment. Anyway enough about guitars... let's talk about life... Christmas life...
Our Christmas will follow the pattern of many years now, pretty much ever since we've had children so 22 years now. It will just the four of us (Mrs F, Son-of-Furtheron, Daughter-of-Furtheron and yours truly) along with Mrs F's mother on Christmas Day. We'll rise when my 17 year old daughter who wants to appear so grown up, mature and sophisticated most of the time reverts to her inner child and will want to get us up early. The "kids" will have opened their "bags" - we used to have stockings that we put little bits in that were left by Father Christmas in their rooms, now they are "bags" with the little gifts my wife and I like to get them, cosmetics, toiletries, CD/DVD etc. that kind of thing. Then we'll go downstairs and open the presents again left by that ingenious Father Christmas under the tree - the "kids" will have theirs in large sacks we've had since they were little. No doubt there will be a note again from Father Christmas to thank my daughter for the mince pie and drink left for him (used to be a sherry but for the last 8 Christmas's he has asked for a soft drink ;-)) and the carrot for Rudolph - my daughter will analyse this normally claiming it is my wife's hand writing disguised - which is a terrible slander clearly.
Breakfast will be croissants and jam/honey. We'll then get dressed and I'll head off to fetch Mrs F's Mum, she lives only a couple of miles away luckily. Then it'll be get the dinner ready time, we'll probably have roasted the turkey the evening before and prepared a lot of the veg. So it is carve the turkey and reheat that in gravy, cook the veg. Sit down to the meal and fill ourselves up. After the meal will be another round of presents for the kids from Mrs F's Mum. Then we'll sit down and pick one of the new DVDs to watch no doubt, followed by a tea that no-one apart from my son will actually really have room left to eat, of sausage rolls, mince pies (made by my daughter before hand I suspect), cake, etc. etc. Dr Who on the telly at some point around now will be another highlight and recent tradition. Then again probably another film from the new selection acquired. A few drinks for those that do, cider for my son, Smirnoff Ice for my daughter sherry or Bailey's for the mother-in-law, Bailey's I expect for Mrs F, coke for me. Then run Mrs F's Mum home, a Horlick's and to bed happy in the cocoon of family love that I will have experienced.
Boxing Day we'll have left over turkey in a casserole no doubt, some experimentation with various gifts of a more cerebral or practical nature, continue to catch up on listening to the various new CDs etc. and then off to visit my sister and her family for tea. Tea will be a huge spread like only my Mum and sister seem to know how to collect and shoehorn onto a table that is much too small really. We'll all help ourselves sat around laughing at each other and playing with my great-nephew and niece. He is still the great young infant age who laps up Christmas and she will be experiencing her first and no doubt will be a bit bamboozled by all the noise, people and change of routine. They'll be another small set of present swapping between us all.
Then a few relaxing days off I hope, my work closes between Christmas and New Year which is really lucky. New Year's Eve will be mince pie a cup of coffee and Jools Holland on the TV. We'll wish each other a Happy New Year and no doubt be in bed not long after 12! I mean it is only another day in reality.
New Years Day is another tradition. It was for many years "Mum's Day". After Dad died and I'd been the last to leave home Mum went to my sisters for Christmas Day and stayed over for Boxing Day - hence why we also have that tradition of visiting there that day. But on New Year's Day all of the family, all 12 of us, would descend on her little bungalow for tea - her little gate leg table creaking under the weight of Tunis Cake, sausage rolls, sandwiches, jelly, etc. etc. The kids would go mad normally most if not all 6 of them on her double bed in her bedroom watching her tv in there whilst the adults stayed in the living room - until the noise levels from the bedroom demanded an intervention. As Mum got older though and the kids the size of adults and new partners added to the numbers the convention moved to us meeting for lunch in a local restaurant and then decamp back to our place which was the large enough to cope with everyone for tea and more cake, sausage rolls etc. or the "growing lads"! Although we've now lost Mum we still carry this on, for myself, sister and brother it is a poignant memory of Mum. This year will however be the first one my brother and his family won't be at - he is visiting his in-laws, his now wife never knew my Mum and she has both her parents still, they should take advantage of that while they can so I completely understand that decision. However we are back at the "old" restaurant, the one we used throughout the last years of Mum's life, who haven't been able to cater in the last couple of years where numbers have soared as high as 20. So whilst sad my brother etc. can't be there it is at least nice to go back to the place with more memories of Mum. This year will be a bit of a "farewell" meal for us as my son is off to live, study and work in Svalbard a few days later for 6 months.
Although I can predict so much of the festivities as we do like to follow our traditions I'm still so looking forward to it. The family love, laughter and fun will be plentiful I know. Also I will try to embrace it all as given my son is now 22 and my daughter 17 I suspect there are far far fewer that will follow this traditional pattern in the years ahead than we've already experienced but that will be ok as we move to newer phases of the family's development and expansion.
I trust all of you have a lovely Christmas and New Year celebration. I hope you can share it with those that you love and that love you unconditionally back as only family can.
Finally a lovely quote (forgive the paraphrasing) from Steve Hogarth of Marillion from his Christmas message to fans on the fan club DVD this year... "If you can at Christmas spare some money for the poor. Also remember those that are so poor all they have is money"... Well put Mr H, it inspired this post as it reminded me that I am a very very long way from being that poor and I'm very lucky and very very grateful for that.
Please share some of your Christmas traditions in the comments if you can.