Thursday, 6 December 2018

The comfort of tradition

I was thinking last weekend, as I was rummaging around in the loft for some Christmas bits and pieces, about our ramshackle collection of festive decorations and how, if I were to go shopping tomorrow and spend £100 on beautiful baubles and lights how tasteful and coordinated our house would look, but how it would all feel a bit wrong to me. Because the best bit about this time of year, for me anyway, is the comforting repetition of the same things; the same handmade decorations on the tree (even the glitter-covered ones from nursery), the nativity set I bought when Bella was one, the same stockings I made, the knowledge that we'll be doing and eating similar things this year to last year, and hopefully next year too. Of course we have the same traditions most of you do - hanging stockings, roasting a turkey, advent calendars etc - but I have been thinking a lot about what things are particularly special to us as a family. I asked Bella and Angus what their favourite Christmas traditions are, and they provided me with: watching Christmas films or tv (The Box of Delights, Home Alone and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation being particular favourites here), unwrapping the homemade toy I always make them, new pyjamas on Christmas Eve and going for a walk on Christmas Day. I was pleasantly surprised and also touched by what they value, what is dear to them.

I like to fill this silly little jar from Tiger with the chocolate coins that will go into the advent calendar.

I like that the children still get really excited about looking for their coins and being allowed to eat chocolate before breakfast.

I like to recycle last year's Christmas cards into this year's gift tags. My mum always used to do this when we were little, and it's such a fun thing to do. Reading the cards again too is nice, it reminds me why I bother to send them.

I like to wrap my gifts in brown paper. I always keep a roll in the house, largely because I am lazy and disorganised, so if you have a roll of brown paper, you can wrap a gift for Christmas, birthday, wedding, anniversary, but it can be recycled too providing you tear off the bits of sellotape. Mainly I just like the look of it.

Time permitting, I like to make some Christmas cards. 

 I like to read some seasonal books, for the same reason that I like to watch Christmas films - it just adds to the whole feeling of festive cosiness. 

And I always, always, like to faff around with Christmassy things on the mantel. I haven't gone all-out with the decs yet, as we're not putting the tree up until this weekend, but there's a shift from autumn to winter on that big old piece of oak.

How about you? What do you like to do to build a feeling of festive excitement and anticipation?


  1. Your house is so pretty and your photographs are beautiful. We have a small space at the bottom of the stairs, now that big old cupboard is gone. I'd like one of those storage benches so we can fill the space and store shoes and such at the same time. I'm waiting for the sales to buy some new lamp shades. I'm well fed up with the dust gathering, paper cone ones we have in the hall and upstairs landing :/ We don't celebrate Christmas, but like you I wrap gifts for all and any occasions in brown paper and use mini cards from a card pack, punch a hole in the corner and tie on with string. Best, Jane x

  2. It is scary Gillian, honestly. We have chocolate coins in a Laura Ashley felt advent calendar I bought when Heidi was two, I wrap in brown paper for all the same reasons as you, I cut up old cards for gift tags, we are putting up our tree this weekend and I make my own cards and enjoy writing them to family and friends. On your note of everyone's Christmas is different - we choose an elaborate dinner from a cookbook (like the cookery challenge) and that is what we look forward to. This year it is baked ham, dauph potatoes followed by sticky toffee pudding. That is one calorie busting dinner! Best Wishes with your Christmas prep. Jo x

  3. merry festive wishes to you and your family've worked hard to make your home so stylish and I love the decor~ I so love traditions at Christmas time. I am like a kiddy in a sweet shop with decors and fairy lights!. Actually, as a family we have not over spent and trying to keep it that way...instead we recycle gift wrap and even made my own roll, gift tags from previous cards, old jars with sweets and candy for secret santa and even our Real Christmas tree is a 'bring back and re-plant' tree. I love getting down all the decorations some vintage from when I was a child, some from each christmas year passed... and the truly special ones are my daughters handmade and nieces. I love going out for a stroll in the evening Christmas window shopping just taking in the festive lights and beautiful displays, we even have Dickensian evening and they make it a truly special evening. Our local church does a Christmas tree competition and I took my little nieces and my Twinny to see it. Its just a wonderful time of year xx

  4. I so agree with you! The traditions are the important thing. I have such old junk for decorations, I'm telling you. Most of it I bought when a store chain was going out of business, which happened to be the same year I started living with P. We went and bought about 50 ornaments, most of them in matched sets of 4-6, for literally pennies on the dollar in the middle of summer and stashed them away. We've used them every single year, I think this is year 18 with them. We watch the same movies and read the same books every year. I bake cookies on the same weekend in December (in time for a school bake sale) every year. It's so boring but so happy and warm and comforting!

  5. I love Christmas cards, and when I am writing them out, I choose them carefully for the person/people, but I receive less and less each year, which is such a shame. A round robin email is just not the same. We have things that we do every year too one of which is watching National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. The main thing is just to chill out and remember to enjoy the holiday with family, nothing has to be perfect...

  6. I love the cards too and keep my favourites- too many now, but the one from my Dad which I kept means a lot to me now he is no longer with us. I agree about the tradition of using the same decorations. One thing I think adds to the atmosphere of anticipation is the smell of the foods cooking before the event. I made chutney this week and the whole house smelled of fruit and spice.

  7. Tradition is definitely how we celebrate....we even have some decorations made from slices of bread when my daughter ( soon to be 21) was a toddler!! We used cookie cutters ( stars, trees etc) to create the shape....made a hole at the top using a pencil...dried them out in a low oven then using a 50/50 mix of pva glue and paint, covered them then immediately dipped them in glitter...leave to dry then thread with ribbon/ I said...21 years on still going strong and although their creator says " we really want these things still?" My reply is always YES!!! And of course we always remember "The reason for the season" :) Loving your pictures and inspiration as always x

  8. Love your bunting, and what a gorgeous photo of Bella and Ziggy. I do the same thing with last year's cards, making them into this year's labels. And my mother did as well. One of my favourite traditions is the Christmas Eve walk in a beautiful village, looking at the lights in people's houses as dusk falls. And then the Boxing Day walk on the beach - all that space, dogs and children running everywhere. Two wonderful walks, both with a very different feel to them. Oh, and I also love the pudding very much. CJ xx

  9. I love how you recycle your cards. And that stamp card is amazing!Where is it from?AriadnefromGreece!

  10. Opening the Christmas box and taking out the same ornaments year after year is, for me, like meeting old friends I haven't seen in a while.
    Also, my sister and I keep insisting on real candles on the Christmas tree at my parents', where we spend Christmas Eve (the "main" Christmas event here in Germany), because that is how we grew up and how we know and love it.
    Your pictures show a lovely home! I remember the Dalarna horse from previous posts of yours. A blogging friend from Sweden sent me a brooch with a small Dalarna horse made from dark red felt.

  11. When the children were still home we would prepare by reading the scriptures every evening about the birth of Jesus. We also had secret angles, where we picked a name from a hat and then did random acts or gave little gifts up until Christmas. We would reveal who we had on Christmas eve.


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