Thursday, 20 December 2012

Christmas at home...

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.


  1. That's a nice guitar! And not inexpensive.

    My daughter turns 11 today. Please don't tell me what it's like to have a 17-year old. I wouldn't want you to spoil all the surprises in store for me.

    If we drive to Ohio for Christmas (500 miles), we'll have a scrumptious dinner at my sister's house. A perfectly-cooked turkey, a lasagna made from a recipe that goes back many generations to Italy. If we stay in New Jersey and go to my mother-in-law's house, we'll have the traditional holiday burnt-up, dried out ham for dinner.

    Each year we take the two daughters into the city to see the big tree at Rockefeller Center. Truthfully, it's more for me than them!

    That quote is an atom bomb. Thanks for it. Merry Christmas to you and your family. All good wishes from across the pond.

  2. I love the quote at the end. Very inspiring indeed!

    Isn't it funny how every other day of the year the kids want to be so grown up but on Christmas they want to be kids again? Mine still want to sleep in a bit, but, other than that, they soak in all the Christmas traditions we've taught them. I love it so!

  3. Love the comment about your daughter. I have three boys (men?) at home ages 19, 17 and 17 (twins). In spite of the fact that they sleep until the crack of noon most days, on Christmas morning they are up bright and early to see what Santa has left for them.

    I love that.


  4. We're fitting in the 'rellies' either side of Christmas, and hunkering down on the day with a Scooby-sized stack of good grub. In our time-honoured and highly immature tradition, we will be ringing our mate Steve at 9.00am and playing Frank Sidebottom's "Christmas is Really Fantastic" down the phone at him. He loves it, you know he does. He really does (thankyew!).

    Have the most lovely relaxing time, and see you back here in 2013.

  5. Merry Christmas! i love he holiday traditions - developed through the years, they provide such a wonderful pinning point for us all. my family traditions have evolved through the years, especially with the girl living overseas this year. last year? The Boy and i went to spend time with her. This year? Skype will work just fine!

    And it's funny about the toiletries in the Christmas bags! My mother has been doing that for years! Always enjoy getting a new supply of travel-sized toothpastes, deodorant and the like....

  6. This post was just so lovely. Delighting in all the details. I must share this with my family. Happy Christmas my friend! Many good wishes for the New Year for you and your beautiful family. :)

  7. Family traditions are by far the best :)
    Yours sound fab
    Have a great Christmas x

  8. Merry Christmas to you and yours Graham!

  9. All of the details around/about these traditions seem very enjoyable...I like how you are playing the oldest guitar you have feeling descriptions


  10. That sounds like a wonderful Christmas, quite similar to ours, involving lots of excitement, eating and not doing much. Perfect.
    Suddenly realised I hadn't reported back on the state of Christmas pudding. So sorry. I'll probably be making a new batch next year so i'll remember to make one for Mrs F!

    Hope 2013 is wonderful for you all, a great adventure that will make you say with joy, 'Wow! I didn't expect that!'