Monday, 22 December 2014

Our Christmas Traditions!

1: The first thing that we do to start off the Christmas season each year is that we put up our Christmas tree! This usually happens on the first Sunday of December, but this year it happened on November 30th because we couldn't wait until the 6th to get it out! 

2: Next come the school nativity plays! This was actually the last one I'll get to watch as my younger siblings have all outgrown them and this was my youngest sister's last ever Nativity. 

3: Usually every December, as a family we each make a box for Operation Christmas Child, which you can find more about here if you've never heard of it but basically you fill up a shoebox full of things and send it off as a present to a child somewhere else in the world, who may not be receiving as many nice things this year. Unfortunately, we missed the deadline to send ours off this year, but it's motivated me to start nice and early next year and we may even get a few more done!

4: As I'm part of our Student Senior Team, we were put in charge of decorating our Common Room this year! Last year, we put Nelson Mandela on the star of our tree as he had recently passed away, and this year we chose to put Robin Williams on it. I think it's a lovely way to remember the people who have made a real difference to our lives and a nice way to commemorate them as the shining stars that they were!
5: Around the middle of December every year in my town, we have a Santa come around on a sleigh on a float with people collecting money for local charities and organisations. He plays really loud Christmas music so even if you aren't being visited by him on a certain night, you can still hear him when he's close by! Some years, my dad and I have even driven around our town with the windows open, hunting for him! I think for most people in our town, that's the number 1 sign that Christmas is officially here
6: For the past few years, my family have been fortunate enough where we've been in a position where we can go and stay at Center Parcs for a week towards the middle of December, when everything is very festive! This is a picture of one of the reindeer down by the grotto - they have real ones and ones that sing and dance! It's hard not to get into the Christmas spirit when there's fake snow all around and even a grotto!
7: These are unfortunately a few traditions that will end this year, since I am now in my last year at my school, but every year we have done a Carol Service which makes me very envious of everyone's talents and I was lucky enough to be asked to do a reading at this year's, so I actually got to be part of it! There was a real community spirit and was such an amazing evening. As part of my Sixth Form, we spend one afternoon on the last week of term visiting a retirement home on the same road as our school, where we perform a nativity, sing some songs and are just a general listening ear to talk to at this time of year. It's a really lovely afternoon and it's great to give something back to the community - I think it's really important to consider others at this time of year, especially anyone who may be left alone. 

8: Every year since I was a kid, we have tried to watch a Pantomime as they're so fun and lighthearted, they really put you into the holiday mood. When I was younger, myself and my brother used to go with my dad on Christmas Eve but now as we are getting older, we tend to go either the week before or at the beginning of January. I'm starting to think I've watched every Pantomime there is, but I still love them!
9: On Christmas Eve, we have a small purple tree that lives on our landing, and my mum puts each of us one present to open under it - usually some cosy new pyjamas. We also each have personalised stockings to leave out on our door for Santa when he comes to deliver our presents!
10: Speaking of the man himself, we like to leave him out a carrot, some milk and a mince pie. I'm starting to appreciate the value of the Elf now due to my new job so I may convince my family to leave out some chocolate for any elves that may come too!

11: Every year, we pick a theme for our Christmas and make hats depending on it. Last year, we went with a Simpsons theme as you can see in this picture, and this year we're basing it on Cluedo. We all have to come in an outfit themed around our character too, and I've been given Professor Plum so if anyone finds a really nice purple dress, please let me know!
12: I feel like Christmas dinner is the most universal Christmas tradition, no? Well, this year we're not actually having a Christmas dinner at home which I'm slightly heartbroken about because it means we don't have this beautiful table set up again, but instead we're going out to eat because we're celebrating Christmas again in January when my brother and his girlfriend come home from travelling and my mum wants to make it more special for us all to wait. Like I said, I'm a bit gutted but I understand where she's coming from and I can't wait for my brother to come home!
Do you have any of these traditions? Do you have any quirky ones like our themed Christmases? Let me know!

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Maira Gall