Can you believe that this year marks our fifth wedding anniversary? We’ve been lucky enough to spend all but one Christmas together since I moved to the US, but it took us no time at all to establish some great holiday traditions that we look forward to reliving and recreating year after year.
Spookily, Layla tagged me in her Day Six: Blogmas today, so it’s fitting that I morph my planned post with hers. Please sit back, get a cup of chai or eggnog on the go, and let’s explore some of my favourite Christmas pastimes.
- CHRISTMAS FILMS:
Every Christmas Eve Justin and I pile on to the sofa with all the blankets we own to snuggle down and watch It’s A Wonderful Life. We sing along to Buffalo Gals, and enthusiastically talk along with George during the “you want the moon?” scene. Oh, and I have no problem admitting that we bawl like babies during the last 10 minutes. I’m not one for Hallmark movies or even Christmas comedies (I’ve never seen Elf): give me classics! On Christmas Day we watch White Christmas, but only when my parents are too. We carefully coordinate pressing play in unison across the miles, and then we live blog it in a group chat. The watching of the latter film has been a Christmas tradition since I was a child which is why it is so important that I keep it going with my little family, and I am such a fan of Rosemary Clooney in it that I have a limited edition Rosemary Clooney White Christmas ornament hanging on my tree. If you’re looking for a nostalgic trip through the life and times of Ms. Clooney, be sure to visit her house/museum in Augusta, KY which is home to the largest collection of White Christmas memorabilia in the WORLD.
- CHRISTMAS PRESENTS
One beautiful thing about marriage is the amalgamation of traditions. Justin’s family does ham for Christmas, mine does goose, for example. When we celebrate Christmas here in Ohio, we get two days of gifts for the price of one. On Christmas Eve we all descend on my mother-in-laws cabin that looks down over to the Ohio River, each of us bringing a dish or pie or even just snacks, and hand out gifts to one another. The following morning, Justin and I will open presents from our UK friends and family while Facetiming or Skyping our nearest and dearest. It’s a relatively new tradition of opening (some) presents the day before , and I’m still getting used to coordinating group Skype sessions with my siblings, but by having these traditions, we’re able to have two days of gift giving, which is really quite lovely.
- HOT CHOCOLATES
For years my go-to holiday drink was mulled wine. Then I went through a spiked cider phase as I got a crock pot for Christmas the year prior and just kept a batch on warm for days. Then I had proper eggnog (recipe coming soon) and lived off that for a couple of Christmases. But one beverage that never fails to make me happy this time of year, and one that should only truly be made this time of year, is hot chocolate. I go mad with them – adding marshmallows and candy canes and sprinkles. Bon Appetit’s recipe went up on their site in 2015 and is one I return to year after year.
- CHRISTMAS DAY WALKS
Whether in the US or UK, I thoroughly enjoy, and heartily recommend, making a Christmas Day walk a new tradition. We live right by a gigantic state park that offers stunning lake side trails and wooded walks, while back home in Wiltshire, there are forests and ancient hilltops to explore and wander about. I like to get out on a brisk walk before dinner. It gets air in your lungs, colour in your cheeks and helps get your appetite ready for a feast! Now that we have a dog (and a daughter), getting out of the house is a must. And believe me, even on the coldest, greyest days, everyone you meet on your walk will wish you a Merry Christmas!
- BEING PHONE FREE
This year I want to start a new tradition: being phone free. My parents will be with us, and we’ll be celebrating our first Christmas with Ellie too. There will be no need to tweet, post or blog this Christmas Day. My focus will be on enjoying every special moment with my little family. I will be wanting to see and experience things with my own eyes and not through a camera lens. Since starting maternity leave I have become glued to my phone, and this will be a good a time as any to PUT. DOWN. MY. DAMN. PHONE. and actually connect, really truly connect with those I love.
Do share what your holiday traditions are. I would love to hear them whether you’ve been doing them for days or decades.