Countdown to Christmas…

P1010840It’s hard to believe that I have managed to make it all the way to mid-December before mentioning the “C” word. For me Christmas is all about traditions and memories. Remembering our own and creating them for our kids.

Taking down the boxes of decorations, the “discussions” regarding which traditions from our own childhood should be continued when my husband and I have different memories. So I asked my family to brainstorm things that make Christmas for them so I could compile an A to Z. There were some letters with tough competition to win the spot, others were easy because some things just had to be included. So here it goes.

Advent Calendar.

IMG_2474

I love this guy. He is one of the decorations that I always want to hug when he comes out of the box each year. Commercialism takes over some years however as my kids would most definitely prefer to each have their own Marks and Spencer’s box!

Brussels Sprouts.

I hate Brussels sprouts. The nasty after taste. The “just one on your plate”, which always turned into more than that. It’s not that I haven’t tried. I have. Even Delias “Brussels Sprouts with Riesling and Bacon” turned out (in my humble opinion) to be a waste of good wine and bacon. A couple of years ago I stopped doing them altogether as they always ended up in the bin. My mother-in-law has never forgiven me. This year she is coming to me again. So I thought about it and decided that maybe they are not so bad. The colour is great after all. So they will appear on my Christmas table this year, just not in the traditional way. Here is my suggestion for what to do with those sprouts.

brussels sprouts finished

Cranberry Sauce.

No Christmas dinner is complete without it. I love to make it and give it as presents.

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Decorations.

The familiarity of our Christmas decorations and the memories they conjure up as soon as they are taken out of the box is wonderful. The really special ones are those made by the kids when they were small but still get put up on the tree even now that they are older. One of the things I love is that even when we move house, once we have found new places for all our old Christmas decorations it always feels like home.

decoration

Effervescence.

Otherwise known as fizz. A glass of Prosecco is definitely going to set the festive mood. (see T for tree)

Fights

My siblings won’t thank me for this one. One family tradition I’m trying not to pass on to my children. Just try not to play Monopoly on the day!

Gingerbread House.

Last year we were quite ambitious and attempted to make a gingerbread house to scale of our house. It was a marathon session involving many hands on deck. This year we intend to attempt a simpler version. photo 3 photo 2

Hot Port. Hot Whiskey.

Cloves. Lemon. Some would say it’s sacrilege but you can’t beat a glass of this in Neary’s off Grafton Street after an afternoon of Christmas shopping.

Ice

Make sure you have plenty ready for the season. (and lemons of course.)

ice

Jesus.

crib2

crib1My 11 year old threw this one in.

(I was impressed).

Clearly the rest of us have lost sight of things. It competed with jingle bells but had to win out. I had to take the photo with the empty crib as she has hidden the baby Jesus until the big day and I couldn’t find him.

Knitted jumper

My mother was a prolific knitter. Over the years many a jumper was produced on the day-usually for a boyfriend or girlfriend as a sign of welcome to our home. They were never appreciated and she was most definitely ahead of her time in inventing the rather tasteless Christmas Jumper. (this is also a reminder to me that mothers always get a hard time!)

Lights.

Whether its candlelight or fairy lights they are a guaranteed way of setting the atmosphere for a warm and welcoming home.

IMG_2358

Mistletoe

I was going to put in milk and mince pies here for Santa here but my husband insisted I get some mistletoe.

misteltoe

New year’s resolutions…

… can wait till next year.

Enough said. Enjoy the season.

O Holy Night.

oh holy night

There is nothing quite like listening to Christmas carols being sung in the beautiful surroundings and acoustics of one of our cathedrals. If you haven’t managed to make it to one this year there is still time. On Sunday next Dec 22nd Christchurch Cathedral Dublin will lost their Choral evensong at 3.30 pm.  On the same day at 3.15pm you can go to St.Patrick’s Cathedral. On Christmas Eve at 9.30 pm Christmas Carols will be sung by the Palestrina Choir in St. Marys Pro-Cathedral.

If you can’t make any of these then you can download a charity recording of O Holy Night by the group Affiniti and the Palestrina Choir with the proceeds in aid of St. Vincent de Paul. The 4 track CD costs €5. It is available to buy in all SVP shops in the Dublin Region, Golden Discs (Stephens Green Shopping Centre), Claddagh Records (Temple Bar and Westmoreland Street) and Celtic Note (Nassau Street). It’s also available to download (on a track by track basis) from iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/ie/album/o-holy-night-ep/id762282015

Presents.

Despite copious making of lists I always end up with some last minute dashing and then, staying up late to wrap them, it’s all part of the Christmas thing though.

Not forgetting the Presence of family and friends at a gathering that’s equally as important at this time of year.

Quality Street

What sums up Christmas better than sitting in front of the TV, fire lit with a family size box of chocolates?

quality street

Reindeer

In our house the deers head that hangs in the hallway gets a pink nose! reindeer

Santa

Tracking Santa and the reindeer as they complete their last 24 hours of work is a wonderful way of counting down to the big event. If you haven’t seen it before check out

http://www.noradsanta.org/

5 days to go

Tree

For our family, Christmas always starts with the expedition to buy the tree, the almost ceremonial lifting of the tree into the house, the stress of getting it to fit into the pot, the fight with the lights to unravel them and the attempt to balance the decorations evenly over the tree. By the time we get to switch on the lights we really are ready for that Prosecco!

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Under the tree. This year I am wrapping my presents for under the tree with newspaper. Not cool said my daughters. Until they saw my sample one. Then they said it’s ok. Now all I have to do is some Christmas shopping… newspaper

Visit to graveyard.

This was always worked into our schedule over the Christmas period. Spare a thought for those who for whom an anniversary occurs at this time of year and especially for those who have lost a loved one since this time last year and will be contemplating the first Christmas without them.

 Wreath.

For me a wreath on the door says Welcome and Happy Christmas all in one. IMG_2338

Xmas Cards

The An-Post advert goes “the moment you send a card it’s Christmas”. It seems these days that we all email or text or ring or skype and real cards are thin on the ground. This makes them even more special when you get one. Imagine the effort of actually getting a card (or making one?), using a pen, buying stamps, finding a post box.

They must really like you to go to all that trouble. cards

Youngest First.

In my family we always opened our presents downstairs with the family lined up on the stairs, youngest first to go into the room and see what Santa had brought. I’ve kept this one up with my own kids. Pure magic.

 Zzz’s

It’s how many sleeps till Christmas?

2 thoughts on “Countdown to Christmas…

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