watervole: (Xmas)
Where are you spending Christmas this year and who will you be with?

Family?

Friends?

On your own?

What aspects of Christmas are important to you?

Do you regard it as just a holiday or does it have significant meaning to you?  (I think it can have meaning that is significant to you even if you aren't a Christian.  We all have our own rituals and symbols that accrue meaning through many layers.)

We'll have the family round. 

Our normal Christmas customs are for presents opened one at a time so that we can all see what everyone else is getting.  We always have a supply of wrapped stocking fillers which are used to pad out if anyone is getting fewer presents.  We also use them instead of crackers - as they have far more interesting contents.  I usually do a raid of Hawkins Bazaar and various charity shops to get an interesting random selection of small puzzles, rocket balloons, wind up toys, etc.  They're also handy for when the nephews come round.  As everyone knows, the stocking fillers are often more fun than the actual gifts, especially if you already know what you're getting.

We don't watch any telly as a rule, though we're making an exception for Dr Who this year at the request of Lindsey and Carrie.

I'll watch Xmas TV before and after Xmas day.  I have my favourites, "Miracle on 34th Street" (the original, not the remake), "It's a Wonderful Life", "White Christmas".

 I also love Christmas carols - as a folkie athiest, I just regard them as a form of traditional music and enjoy them on that basis.

I do think of Christmas as time out, to relax and to be with people you love.  Sometimes we have extra people round.  A couple of times we've invited people who would otherwise have been alone for Xmas - and they've fitted in very well.

We eat all the usual Christmas stuff.  Richard makes his own Christmas cake and mince pies, but we usually buy a Christmas pudding.  We probably tend more towards veggie stuff than most people (and buy organic veg from Riverford as we do all year round) , but we do have a roast of some kind.  This year, it will be duck.

With Richard having a new job, this will be a good Christmas for me.  I can relax and enjoy it.  It's also making me more organised beforehand - I'm tidying the lounge and clearing out stuff that's been there for years.  The decorations are relatively low key, but the tree looks lovely and there's lots of holly as we've been cutting back the holly tree in the garden.

I don't do outside lights at all - I regard them as a totally unnecessary source of CO2 emissions, and horribly tacky to boot.

My Christmas tree decorations have been used many times over.  I tend to collect them individually and most of them come with memories attached.  There's a reindeer from Sweden and a Shinto temple bell from Japan, items I picked up from charity shops, a real variety.  (Less from overseas now, as I gave up air travel a decade ago - I found I couldn't square my conscience with the carbon footprint)

I try not to spend a fortune on presents.  The house rule is that second-hand is perfectly okay when it comes to things like books.  Reining in spending is partly a reaction to a long period of having to be careful about money, but also a feeling that the day should be about the people you're with and not about how expensive the gifts are.

It's sad that one can never be with all of one's family, but we live too far apart for that and for the older generation, it's getting harder to travel. Neither my parents nor my mother-in-law want to do the long trek at Xmas and I can understand that at their age.  We'll go and visit Richard's mum some time over the next few weeks, and my parents will have other family members to be with them.

In conclusion, may you all have a joyous holiday with those you love and a day of peace and relaxation.

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Judith Proctor

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