Nostalgia is kicking in big time today! Welcome back to Life with Ktkinnes for yet another day of Blogmas. Can you really believe I’ve lasted a week? Yes, I have another exam tomorrow, but my mind keeps jumping to London and how excited I am to spend the weekend away, exploring a new city and spending time with the girls I’ve spent the last 108 days talking to. It’s crazy when you think we only started GRLPOWR 106 days ago!
Today’s Christmas Countdown song was one I genuinely hadn’t realised was considered a Christmas Song. Then again, I only know it from an ad on TV and I still can’t remember what it’s an ad for so if anyone could help me out there, that would be great… But Day 8 is I’m Gonna Be Warm This Winter.
Surely I can’t be the only one who didn’t realise this song is a Christmas song?
Anyway, today’s theme for blogmas is my Christmas traditions. Every family is different, and even within that family each person will have different traditions. In our house, the tree and decorations go up the first weekend in December. It normally involves Dad on the step ladders, hanging up fairy lights around the dining room, family room, and hallway. Normally this occurs with between 3 and 7 incidents of swearing – he’s either hammered his thumb, dropped a nail, or tripped over Baron. We then progress to the tree. Now, we have a fake tree, but it’s been part of the family since Mum and Dad got married back in 1993 so I have some serious respect for that tree. It’s moved house more times than me and yet it still looks good as new!
Traditionally, the C.D. player gets turned on, the music starts, and only then are we allowed to start decorating the tree! I’d like to pretend that this is the fun part and everyone helps, but in reality it just ends up Dad telling us where to put each decoration, and everyone getting stressed because once again we’ve forgotten how to rearrange the furniture when the tree appears. Doesn’t help that this year is also our first with a cat!
The majority of our traditions start on the 23rd December. Normally by this stage, I’ve drawn up a list of exactly what needs done and when, and then we allocate different tasks to each person in the hope of lightening the stress. Early to bed on the 23rd though, because you won’t get sleeping properly for a few nights!
Up early on Christmas Eve, we divide into two teams. Mum and Dad move into the kitchen and stat cooking multiple different things at the one time, while Rachel and I polish the silverware, lift out the good crockery, wash the special wine glasses, and set up the dining room for Christmas Day. Normally this is done rather quickly, so we split the rest of the chores in half and set to cleaning the house from top to bottom – can’t have a messy house on Christmas Day! Mum and Dad then head up to shower and change while Rachel and I do the dishes for them (have you noticed we seem to be doing the more menial tasks?) before we go and shower ourselves. All this is done to yet more Christmas music. When everyone’s ready, we have a light lunch. Trying to think of something you won’t have over the next few days can be difficult so quite often this lunch is simply pizza or beans on toast. While we all sit with our cups of tea after lunch, we set the tape for those Christmas Specials you just can’t miss. We argue with Rachel that no she really doesn’t need to tape The Polar Express every year – we have it on DVD!!!
At around 2 in the afternoon, we head down to Belfast to see Granny H. Normally, she stays the night in our house on Christmas Eve so we go down, load her stuff into the car, have a drink and mince pie, and the festive spirit really begins to kick in. After 4pm, we drive round to the local rugby club – actually I’ve just realised that I am no longer designated driver as Rachel passed her driving test! – where we have a few drinks, nibbles, and just general fun while chatting to family friends and listening to Christmas music. We leave normally after 6pm, heading home to Lisburn for a lasagne or casserole that’s been slowly cooking at a low temperature all afternoon. Just something quick and easy that we can settle down to eat without too much fuss.
After dinner, we gather round the TV. The fire gets lit, and we either watch whatever rubbish is on, or we put on a few different films. However, every year at 9pm, Rachel sticks It’s A Wonderful Life into the DVD player and we watch it as a family. As soon as it ends, we throw on coats and shoes and head to church (back in Belfast – don’t we just love travelling backwards and forwards?) for the midnight service. The service starts with all the lights off, and just a few strategically placed candles flickering, as one of the members of the choir sings the first verse of Once In Royal David’s City and the choir slowly proceed down the aisle and we join them for the rest of the hymn. It’s a truly magical service. I’m not sure if it’s just Church of Ireland that do this but we have a part of the service when the minister says something along the lines of ‘Peace be with you’ and the congregation reply ‘and also with you’ followed once again by the minister saying ‘Let us take a moment to offer each other a sign of peace’. Normally, in a standard Sunday service, I dread this because now’s the time when you’ve to shake hands with all the strangers around you and smile regardless of how clammy their hands are. However, during the midnight service (which starts at 11:30pm by the way) this falls at midnight every year, and so you can wish each other a Merry Christmas and there’s this warm bubbly feeling that I can’t quite explain that comes along with it.
By the end of the service, we’re shattered. It’s home to bed, where you hope you can get at least a few hours sleep. Yes. Even at the age of 21, I still can’t sleep on Christmas Eve. Don’t judge me.