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My Perfect Christmas

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      20.01.2010 22:14

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      A festive and fun day

      The perfect Christmas for me has to be a white one - stereotypical I know, but it is the one time of year it would be so wonderful to have snow blanketing the garden and covering the roof. Christmas Eve is rounded off with a Baileys on ice after a light supper of fish. Stockings are hung up and a mince pie and brandy left out for Santa - not forgetting a treat for the reindeers. Then Christmas morning my daughter awakes (but not too early) and we have a lazy breakfast while she opens her presents. Ideally (although I have to confess we've never got round to this yet), we attend the morning church service - just to remember what it's all about. We come back and prepare an amazing Nigella lawson inspired lunch, games and drinks in the afternoon, candles and cinammony smells adorning the house, watch some rubbish TV then munch on cheese and biscuits followed by trifle and yet more drinks. Perfect.

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      29.12.2009 21:15
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      A celebration of something rather sweet

      Christmas - baby Jesus, born in a manger in Bethlehem - it's a wonderful story and whether or not you believe it, the scene is a serene one - quiet, reflective and joyful as a family is made.

      So how can this be anything to do with the spending of large amounts of money which the shops and adverts cajole us into thinking is a necessary part of Christmas? Or indeed the stocking up, as many of us do, with rich foods and other goodies designed to celebrate the festive season - 26 million birds queuing up to help us in this quest. I wouldn't like to be a turkey, or a goose for that matter.

      So do I celebrate Christmas? Oh yes, for sure, but in a quiet way. Our tree, now 20 years old, sits festooned in the most bizarre yet meaningful apparel. Wooden chairs, watering cans, snow-clad houses, frosted strawberries, a man-in-the-moon and a handful of playschool decorations make for a child-friendly spruce which, when fully illuminated with starry lights and newly sprayed snow, tells us Christmas is here! I do miss the chocolates which used to hang from the branches but would disappear long before Christmas under mysterious circumstances. Close questioning never revealed the culprit but my eldest son always looked incredibly guilty. Recent years have seen an end to these Cadbury's temptations, precariously hanging, in case my dog should be lured into eating them as they are, of course, dog poison.

      And so to the table. This year I pushed the boat out and I bought a paper cloth in crimson red with tartan napkins to match and set the table for lunch with Turkey Lurkey in the middle. He is my adorable vegetarian soft toy with a cavity I stuff with vegan chocolate balls. His zip broke many years ago so the balls are precariously stored - I must get his zip fixed!

      Lunch is different every year. Some years I do it, some years my daughter does it. This year we shared and we feasted on squash pie, roast potatoes, sprouts with chestnuts and fresh cranberry sauce; followed by apricot crumble with star anise, Christmas pudding and vegan lemon cheesecake; all served after the Queen at Three on the BBC. We have crackers too. Sometimes these provide handy nail clippers but all too often silly rewards. But they do yield hats which in bottle green and pillar box red looked very festive and royal.

      The afternoon went by in front of Joanna Lumley in Girl Friday which I bought on DVD, a delightful relic from the past when she was left alone on a desert island for nine days. Her only nourishment was rice and fruit she could find herself - a far cry from my lavish lunch so enjoyed in my festive hat.

      So Christmas Day was an odd mix of her Royal Highness, laced with Joanna, the monarchy and lady both painting my afternoon with grace and style. Rather odd really with Turkey discharging his footballs with his zip in for repair. So we went in our minds from Chelmsford to Bethlehem via Buckingham Palace and an island off Madagascar in one afternoon. Just as well it was only virtual, with our tummies bursting - but it did really make me think of two things.

      Firstly Joanna, alone on her island - how many people were in her shoes on this so-called "family day", so hyped up and celebrated? My neighbour for one, newly bereaved and facing his first Christmas without his wife for 56 years. The lonely parents that lavish gifts on their children, they feel they should, and then sit with debt councillors in January worrying how to pay for them. Lying awake at night thinking of money owed must the tragic consequence of many Christmas celebrations.

      And then, the looking back on the year so eloquently done by her Royal Highness at Three, mirrors that which we all do at this time of year - remembering the good and the bad and the promise of a new year to come. So as millions of bins sit full of giblets and bone and the remnants of Christmas carcasses waiting for the next bin day - festively postponed - and the decorations still hanging proud marking a date in time - people reflect on a tinsel filled day which is a dream for some and a massive ordeal for others.

      I had a lovely day with all my family - it was, as usual, a moderate affair and full of laughter. No fancy presents - just a few trinkets - my daughter, who loves nature, even wrapped hers in newspaper so my present resembled fish and chips but newsprint encased a simple treasure.

      Christmas isn't so much about stocking up but taking stock and counting what's important. A simple celebration of a childhood dream, Father Christmas trundling over snow-clad houses delivering simple treats with his faithful reindeer from his base in the far North.

      After Christmas our family separated, my eldest daughter back to Wales to tend all the Christmas animal casualties in her work as a vet; my youngest daughter back to Edinburgh to study; and whilst my youngest son manned the home fires, myself and hubby departed on a 500 mile journey through snow and ice towards a ferry bound for the Outer Hebrides.

      The next morning we awoke early to take our dog out and the sky was clear and millions of stars were twinkling in every direction. Some were shooting across the sky exploding in flashes of light, illuminating the sky in electric radiance. Outside was silent, pure silence - the dog, her stubby little paws glistened with snow and frost. Suddenly in the distance the sound of deer awakening from sleep echoed across the hillside. Sheep clustered together in the lee of fences and beside the warmth of cottage walls. I wonder if they saw Santa's reindeer. I hope so because against a backdrop of a blanket of stars it must have looked amazing. Here, a million miles away from the post-Christmas sales, the sun rises in all its apricot glory, the island sits waiting for the spring just around a snowy corner. No tills ringing here, nothing half-price, just a snowy scene of tranquillity.

      This review is also posted on Ciao by myself under my user name there Violet1278.

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        24.12.2009 00:17
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        It's just about being true to myself and not wanting to get involved in other people's hysteria!

        Let me introduce my other self. I'm one of these miserable gits who finds the whole practice of Christmas a crashing bore.

        For me, Christmas in adulthood is a far cry from the magical tinsel glimmering in the light of a coal fire and presents around the tree long lost dream of how it was in my early childhood. With just one or two minor differences, I prefer to spend my Christmases in pretty much the same way as I spend all my other days throughout the year.

        Sometimes I can catch a vague glimmer of a Christmassy mood - in or around mid-November - but it usually only lasts a few minutes, then drifts away for another year. I find little appeal in tramping around shops that sell very un-Christmassy tack at grossly inflated prices, and my sense of goodwill to all is seriously deficient whilst having to negotiate my way through a supermarket that's milling with other people's kids who are using the aisles as a go-karting stadium. Any shopping I have to do will be done when it's raining, as precipitation tends to scare people into staying indoors, and I can thus buy what I have to buy with relative speed and in relative peace.

        I am extremely good at spending and enjoying time totally alone, and other people find this very difficult to understand - not so much during the rest of the year, but they fail to appreciate how on earth anybody can enjoy a Christmas spent completely on one's tod! One of the hardest parts for me in the lead-up to Christmas is having to try and convince a plethora of family and friends that yes, I truly WILL be OK with nobody but my own sweet self for company. It isn't me who has a problem with me being alone at Christmas.....it's THEIR problem, as the idea of me being alone takes them too close to their own fear of such; therefore, they feel they have to appease their fear by demanding that I go to their place for at least part of the Christmas period; a sort of a transactional analysis kind of thing! I do appreciate that these invitations I get bombarded with are gestures of kindness, and I'm thankful that the people who offer me their hospitality are being considerate.....but I just wish it wasn't so difficult to get them to accept a polite and good-natured "thanks, but no thanks!"

        About five years ago, I met up with an old friend via FriendsReunited, and it was just before Christmas that we went to a local pub for our first reunion drink. Through the years since this friend and I had been out of touch with one another, she'd managed somehow to gain four rabidly unruly children (who had grown into grunting surly teenagers) together with an obnoxious, continually belching husband. Once my friend had learned that as is usual for me, I fully intended to spend the Christmas period totally alone, she absolutely machine-gunned me with emails and phone calls telling me that in no way could I possibly spend Christmas all by myself, and that I MUST go to her house on Christmas Eve, staying overnight through Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, making my way home on 27th December when the whole shebang was over. Cringing with horror, I tried to refuse the invitation as graciously as I could manage. My honest declarations that I'd been deliriously happy spending every Christmas totally alone for the previous 18 years didn't seem to make any impression on my friend at all, or convince her that I did actually know what I was talking about.

        The thought of spending even a tiny part of Christmas, let alone the whole period, with this friend (who incidentally has quite a well-developed alcohol problem), her four psychopathic teenage offspring and her husband who makes Rab C Nesbitt seem like an example of fine culture and delicate sartorial elegance, filled me with a horror that made me want to curl up and die! Somehow I managed to fend off my friend's no doubt well intended bombardments, and I did get to spend that Christmas on my own after all.

        I do up to a point participate in buying, writing and sending Christmas cards, plus my three great-nephews will each receive a handwritten cheque inside their cards....plus I send a huge jiffy bag containing little wrapped presents to my brother & sister-in-law in Canada, but for the remaining family and friends, we all have reached a 'no presents' agreement with one another. Therefore, I need to do only a tiny amount of Christmas shopping, which makes things slightly easier and less stressful. For me, there's nothing more boring than tramping round a load of tacky shops selling sub-standard plastic light-up models of Father Christmas who, if you press a button on his beard, belts out "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" in a tinny Bronx accent, wondering if I can get away with doing the scented candles bit again for everyone for yet another goodness knows how many years on the trot. Since the 'no presents' agreement with friends and most family, that particular piece of tiresomeness has now been removed, which I am thankful for.

        As can be read in my all-time favourite Christmas songs DooYoo review, I do like a little festive ditty to blare out from the radio from about 8th December onwards, but I consider that to be my own personal and private piece of Christmas enjoyment.

        I don't put any decorations up as they only have to be taken down again. You'll not see any fairy lights or larger than life-sized singing inflatable reindeer or fake snow outside of my house (as for the snow, we've got more than enough of the real thing here right now).

        I do prepare for my own Christmas in my own way though, and for me, the following is my ideal and happiest, most content way of spending the festive season.

        I aim to finish all my food shopping at least two days before Christmas Eve. As the years have gone by, I have invented my own little ritual of how I do things - and that is MY Christmas.

        Usually, I will buy myself a small portion of turkey or one of those ready-stuffed, ready-to-cook frozen thingies (Waitrose seem to have the classiest fayre on offer for such comestibles, but as my nearest branch is about 8 miles away and impossible for me to get to, I've for this past few years had to happily plump for Iceland's version). With my turkey, I shall have sprouts, carrots, peas, broccoli, roast parsnips and roast potatoes - liberally smothered in cranberry sauce, and a small lump of extra-matured cheddar cheese on top. I shall then pour a little gravy over the vegetables - gravy which will be made with turkey juices, a veggie Oxo cube, a little bisto, a single drop of soy sauce and a sizeable splash of palate-tingling strong red wine.

        Afterwards, because I don't really like Christmas pudding, I shall scoff a small dish of profiteroles with a dollop of Devon clotted cream on top......and, the huge mound of washing up will be forgotten about until the following day.

        Boxing day I tend not to have a main meal - I will pick at things like sausage rolls, Kraft Dairlea Cheese Triangles, tomatoes, little oranges, brazil nuts, chocolate, and the odd banana here and there.

        The radio will be on for most of the time that I'm awake during Christmas Day and Boxing Day. If I get bored with what's on, I shall delve into my own rather vast and superb music collection. Within my music collection, most genres can be found - but for Christmas, I prefer something light so will probably opt for 1950s rock & roll and doo-wop, which is very easy on the ear as well as being some of the (in my opinion) most wonderful music ever produced since time began. In the unlikely event that I get bored with both the radio and my music, I shall have a meander around on YouTube, possibly watching clips of Christmas editions of long-ago-departed British sitcoms from the 1960s and 1970s. In between eating and working (yes I do plan to do some work over the holiday period), I shall be cruising around the internet, which is what I do every day anyway. I might even bash out a couple of DooYoo reviews!

        If the sun shines, I might take a walk around my little garden, hoping to see my part-time resident fox. I'm sure he or she would be glad of a few scraps of turkey, and I shall present carrot pieces to the squirrels who constantly scuttle around. I can't think of a nicer way to spend a little part of my Christmas, than to be surrounded by nature. I hope it's frosty as the bare tree branches which make up the small wood about 50 yards away from my front room window look beautiful, and late in the evening I'd like an atmospheric, wintry mist to swirl around. As for snow, well....where I live we've already had it crisp & deep & even for just over a week, so I won't be too bothered if we have no more.

        That for me is my perfect Christmas. Just me, myself and I with my own myriad daydreams and my own thoughts......getting up whenever I want to, going to bed either sober or drunk - whichever I choose - whenever I want to. Spending my time in silence if chosen and not having loads of children screeching all around me (which drives me truly insane), and I can eat what I want, when I want. If I suddenly decide I don't fancy the turkey dinner on Christmas Day and have an urge for egg & chips instead, then I shall have egg & chips, without offending anybody else's sense of Yuletide spirit. I can sit here in my scruffiest clothes and I don't have to clock watch, sitting around waiting to be picked up and taken to places that I don't want to be at. I can stay in bed for the whole 48-hour period if I wish! I will have all my things close at hand - the things which are most important to me - that is nature, my four walls, my computer, my books, my music and my mind. Who could ask for anything more?

        I wish you all the Christmas of your dreams, and whether it's a traditional one or pizza on the moon or whatever else you care to do, I hope it's what you want it to be.

        Thanks for reading!

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          02.12.2009 21:12
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          A perfect Christmas for a child growing up in the 1950s

          My perfect Christmas: in the 1950s

          When I was a child, Christmas celebrations were SO much simpler. There wasn't much money around but that wasn't important. Three children and, later another child, and one wage-earner. We had enough money but there was none to waste.

          We had our dreams and hopes, which we shouted up the chimney to Father Christmas on Christmas Eve. For some reason, he never seemed to think it was a good idea to give me my own pony (we lived in the centre of Basingstoke at the time), but we were happy with what we were given.

          The build-up to Christmas started quite a few weeks before, when Mummy would make her own Christmas pudding, into which was put a silver thrupenny bit - 3d - (which had been replaced a few years earlier in common usage by the multi-sided thrupenny bit, so the silver ones were recycled each year.) We all helped to stir the pudding, making a wish whilst stirring. When the pudding was later served, we were all really hopeful about being served the piece containing the coin, because then we could have another wish, which would, of course come true! Mummy also made a Christmas cake, so the kitchen smelt lovely! She was so busy.

          Then there were the Advent services in church, which we attended each week. The homemade Christmas cards to design and homemade presents to plan.

          Just a few days before Christmas Day, we'd be given packs of glue-backed, coloured paper, each piece approximately 6 inches X 1 inch (Yes, we are talking 'old money' here!) We made huge paper chains, by forming a loop with one piece of paper, putting another piece through & then gluing it to form a loop, and so on, until the chain was long enough to stretch from one end of the room to the other. One chain finished, lots more to go! What a great way to keep excited children usefully and happily occupied! Finally, it was time to hang up the chains, carefully, so that the carefully constructed loops didn't get squashed. The room looked lovely!

          At last, on Christmas Eve, the (real) tree would be brought into the house and put into a small container, ready for eager little hands to decorate. There were the circular, purple hard plastic discs depicting the three Wise Men, the Nativity scene, etc, which had amazingly survived for another year. The homemade offerings to be put on, and the tinsel, and then.... most magic of all.... the little, REAL candles to be attached in special plastic clips to the branches of the tree. They were about the size of my (adult) little finger, though diminishing each year that they were brought out!

          The sitting room lights would be switched off. Just the glow of the coal fire and the shining candles on the tree. SO beautiful. Mummy would play carols on the piano, whilst we all stood round the piano singing lustily. The candles were only allowed to burn for a little while, I think they were lit on Christmas Day in the evening as well. Sadly, by the time I was nine, my mother had lost her fight against cancer, so it became my job to play the carols, from a children's carol book (We still have this book.)

          When it was bedtime, about 6.45 pm, we would be packed off to bed. Already the arguments had been settled as to who got which of my dad's socks to hang by the chimney. Yes, we had a chimney in our upstairs bedroom! We all thought we should have the biggest sock, of course! Oh, it was SO difficult to sleep! Then, early in the morning we were up, rummaging through the contents of the sock. There would be a satsuma (big treat), maybe a few nuts, a few chocolates or sweets (strange how they were the same sort as those in the bowl on the sideboard!) and maybe a pencil / some crayons / drawing paper, and perhaps a tub of bubbles. Our presents, of which there were not many, would be on our bedside cupboards, unwrapped, so none of the mystery of guessing what was in each package. One year my main present was a sewing box, which I still use. Another time, not on the bedside cupboard, I was really lucky and got a wooden dolls pram! Another time, a lovely wicker cradle, about a foot or fifteen inches long and maybe 6 inches wide, just big enough for my doll. Yes, I only had one doll and one teddy, so both were very much loved.

          Small presents were also exchanged between members of the family, homemade cards lovingly given and received.

          One year, it was a white Christmas. Oh the excitement! Hats, scarves, boots, and out we went. The whole family, playing together.

          Then to church, to remember the real message of Christmas. Another opportunity to sing those wonderful, traditional carols. A big, traditional Christmas dinner, followed, eventually by a healthy walk. Later, tea (sandwiches, Christmas cake and homemade mincepies.)

          Boxing Day was important because we had to write all our thank you letters, laboriously, by hand, in best writing, of course - to the distant grandparents, who lived at the other end of the country and who were more like scary strangers because we could only visit them once or twice a year. (But that's another story!)

          Nowadays, we still love to have a traditional Christmas, with a similar structure to the day. But overall, this festival has become far too commercialised for my liking. Worry, overspending, excessive indulgence. I wonder, who is luckier? The children of 2009 or the children of the 1950s?

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            09.11.2009 14:57
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            How I spend my Christmas

            Christmas holds a different meaning for everyone. What Christmas is all about differs so much from person to person.

            We are not a religious family, but Christmas always starts for us every year when our girls perform their schools nativity. Their school always does a modern twist, one year it was the story of the Jolly Christmas Postman. There was fun and laughter all the way through, but at the end they still made the point of Christmas, with a scene with Mary, and Joseph, the three wise men,and of course, Baby Jesus.

            For me, my Perfect Christmas is all about celebrating and spending time with my beautiful family. We take old family traditions, and carry them on, as well as enjoying creating our own traditions, which I wouldlove to think my children will carry on with their own families.

            Our perfect Christmas begins on Christmas Eve. We read Christmas stories, and might watch a Christmas film or two, all snuggled up and cosy on the sofa. Before bed time, we give all three girls a special gift - a brand new cosy pair of pyjamas. They get excited then, as straight after they are in their new pj's, its time for some older traditions. Out come the mince pies, a carrot, a beer and a saucer of milk for Santa. Once they have been placed, the stockings are hung. Usually, they were hung around the coffee table, this year I am quite happy that in our new homewe have a fireplace, which is where they will be hung this year.

            With all that done, the girls are then tucked up in bed. We love to stand outside their rooms, and listen to their excited natter, and they often wonder if they can stay awake long enough to catch a glimpse of Santa!
            I then head downstairs, to carry out another tradition, this one I remember my mum doing. I prepare all the veggies and any other food that can be prepped for the next day. It always means I get to spend a little less time in the Kitchen!

            Once we know the girls are safely asleep, we begin the task of bringing all the presents down. We pile as many as we can under the tree, all others are put around it. Then my husband does his task of making the treats look 'eaten', while I write a thankyou note from Santa for his snacks, and we go to bed,although usually we are as excited as the kids!

            In the morning, once everyone is awake, we start with a tradition from my husbands side. Christmas Day does not start until a fry up breakfast has been eaten (short straw for me!!)
            After breakfast, I sneak off to grab the video camera,and once Im ready, my husband brings the girls in. Catching their faces on camera when they see that Santa has been and brought presents, and ate their snacks, and left them a note, is absolutely priceless.

            Our day proceeds with christmas songs in the background, lots of presents being unwrapped, lots of stress at attempting to get kids toys out of their impossible boxes! and laughter. We all spend the morning playing with the kids toys, with me nipping in and out of the kitchen.

            We usually eat our quite tarditional Christmas Dinner at around 2pm. There is of course, the pulling of crackers, and everyone has to wear their 'craker hat'. After dinner, the usual Christmas pudding is dished up, along with something, usually chocolaty, for me and our eldest, who dislike Christmas pudding very much! We then have more traditions, coffee and tea, served with after dinner mints. My husband thinks Im crazy everytime I bring them out, and he always says he has no room, but funnily enough, he always manages to eat a few!

            Once the kitchen is cleaned, we all relax a bit more. Usually there is another classic Christmas film on in the background, and we all just chill out and do fun stuff, or play family friendly games for the rest of the afternoon.
            Its a long day for the kids, so for supper we make the most of the leftovers and have turkey sandwiches!
            We havent had a Christmas yet where the kids have been awake past 6.30pm, which is nice for us to snuggle up, maybe have a glass of wine, and we reminice about our Christmases when we were children. We always tell the same funny stories, but they never get boring. Its normally an early night too for us, as my father in laws birthday is Boxing Day, which is when we go to the in laws house for the whole day, and the entire family is there, which is when we exchange gifts with everyone else and we seem to have almost two Christmas Days a year!

            So, my Perfect Christmas Day may seem boring to some, but for me, its all about those traditions, old and new, and spending much needed quality time with my family without the stress of work, or any other every day interruptions.

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              05.12.2008 13:11
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              Nice time of year for some but not everyone

              Who decides what is a perfect Christmas or not?

              I think that this year will be the hardest Christmas for my family. My mum lost her battle with cancer in January this year so this is my first Christmas without her. Every year we would go around to my mum's for Christmas dinner and it will be really strange this year.

              I have volunteered to do the Christmas dinner this year, simply because I cannot afford £50 - £60 per head to go to a restraint for the same food that would be roughly £20 per head the day before. It would be £100 - £120 just for me and my fiancé to go out for dinner on Christmas day, where I could feed and provide drink for my full family for that amount of money.

              Christmas is for giving not receiving!

              I wonder who made that up. Try telling that to a screaming kid on Christmas day, I doubt they would understand that Santa has been hit with credit crunch! I find that Christmas is getting more commercialised each year and everyone is trying to get the most expensive present for one another.

              I do have a soft spot for this time of year as my fiancé proposed to me on Christmas day two years ago, so I do enjoy the time off work and everyone getting together to enjoy everyone's company and of course the booze does help too.

              I hate the hustle and bustle, especially when going to the supermarket, everyone buy as thought the shops are closed for a year and I'm sorry to say that I find myself sucked in at the last minute on Christmas eve I'm usually around the supermarket buying items that we don't need but do it just encase I need it.

              I think a perfect Christmas is spending time with you loved one's and remembering the ones who can't be with us to enjoy this time of year. To many others this is a difficult time of year as many people do not have families to go to over the festive season.

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                27.11.2008 16:36
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                great time to meet family who havent seen in a while

                I still live at home with my mum and son Joshua so tradition is left up to my mum but id do things differently if i had my own house just to add my touches.
                We normally put our Christmas tree up 12 days before Christmas and we hang candy canes on the branches for the kids when they visit as well as all the fancy decorations.
                We have started to get real tree's as they smell nice and its great going choosing your own.

                Since meeting my boyfriend Anthony we have gone up to north wales to visit his parents just before Christmas.They have a lovely cottage on farmlands in the middle of no where and if you look carefully you can see the sea.
                The house is gorgeous and they have a real fire which we roasted chestnuts on there last year they were delicious.
                I wont be taking josh though as they don't have heating and it can get cold so i am thinking that is why he wouldn't settle last time we went.We normally stay 2 nights then drive home Christmas eve,last Christmas we drove home singing Christmas tunes and stopped off at little chef for our breakfast.

                Since my sister has got her own house we spend Christmas eve at hers until about 8pm as i need to get josh in bed ready for Santa.
                We normally have a buffet tea as this saves cooking and we can throw away paper plates.
                I get josh into bed and tell him that he has to be good for Santa even though he might not understand what i say as he has special needs i like to think he understands who knows maybe he does but just cant show it yet.
                My partner stops over Christmas as he lives in a flat a few miles away,this will be out second Christmas together.
                We wake up in the morning last year i had to wake josh up he was sleeping in it was my turn for all the mornings hes woken me up,haha.I get more excited than josh,but he doesnt really understand you could spend loads on him and he would still spend hours playing with the wrapping paper.
                We spend all morning playing with toys whilst mum slaves away in the kitchen on the full English breakfast,we do offer help but she thinks things would be done quicker if we didn't help charming!
                A nice full English with a bucks fizz is what you need to start the day.
                After breakfast we like to go for a walk so we go and see if there are any ducks out that need feeding which is nice.
                Then my sister comes round with her boyfriend and her two kids and we open presents then sit down for a proper Christmas dinner.My mum likes to do a starter,Christmas dinner then Christmas pudding.

                We then play party games with the kids and get them tired out for bedtime and then we stay up till late playing loads of different games, i love playing buzz on ps2 and were having a go at singstar this year so that should be fun.

                Boxing day mum normally makes a turkey curry with the leftover turkey and we normally have ham sandwiches for dinner as she loves to cook a leg of ham.

                This Christmas i am going to get josh to make christmas pies and decorate some decorations for his bedroom as i am going to make it feel more christmasy.

                I love Christmas time its not about the presents its about having your family around and even the kids appreciate that more if you bring them up not spoilt they will understand the true meaning.

                We always toast to love ones that have passed away so they are not being forgotten.

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                  26.11.2008 15:00
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                  Custon made Christmas!

                  Our Christmas may not be to everyone's taste but it suits us perfectly and to me that is what Christmas should be about. Firstly we don't have any close family nearby so its just my husband and I.
                  I love cooking and enjoy baking and making huge amounts of potato salad, humous and "dippy stuff" in the run up to the "big day"
                  Christmas eve is fantastic as I love a bargain so I hit the supermarkets around lunch time and fill my boots! Depending on what I manage to get I either spend a couple of hours freezing or cooking my loot. This is the time I used to spend making mince pies(which I am not keen on anyway) but now due to discovering COSTCO mince pies I wouldn't dream of making my own anymore! (they are SO good!)
                  At about 9.15pm I ring my Uncle in New Zealand to wish him a happy Christmas that really is a very important part of my Christmas.
                  On Christmas day we get up mega early, make a flask of coffee, load up the mince pies, lots of cheesy Christmas music(car boots are always good for stocking up!) and we head off into the dark(somewhere between 5.45-6.30am) we drive up into the Peak District(we don't go on a specific route) and watch the sun rise. The journey is lovely, it is very still and quiet, the roads are deserted. Some houses have their curtains open and sometimes you see(and hear!)screams of joy. Also we go past a lovely old church you sometimes see some ladies decorating the lynch gate and generally making hte outside of the church look festive.
                  We have our coffee and pies looking over the beautiful hills. Three years ago we had a visitor-a very cheeky sheep(who also liked the pies!) Then two years ago it was very snowy and we didn't think that going up the hills were a good idea so we ended up having a snowball fight in the car park at Buxton! It is also useful to note that should you need them the toilets at Buxton (adjacent to the car park)are open every day and are clean. Last year I got to stroke a very beautiful horse, so its always different.
                  When we arrive home (time varies depending on where we go((having gone past the now beautifully decorated church) we have cava and open our gifts.
                  We don't have "proper" Christmas dinner. A few years ago I found my self getting mega stressed about something insignificant(maybe timing the sprouts?) and nearly being in tears. It made me think Why????? Christmas should be about relaxing and being with those you care for rather than following some script for the "perfect Christmas"(what IS perfect anyway)
                  So we have a buffet type arrangement Loads of stuff(salads) posh cheeses various pies and quiches its really nice and we can please ourselves.
                  Boxing day is (or was) again rather different. We used to spend the day at an animal sanctuary which was lovely and gave lots of the regulars the day off to spend with their families(we used to volunteer regularly and still fund raise) We used to walk the dogs, feed and clean them(husband the dog man) feed clean and cuddle the cats, and everything else that was needed. We used to spend the day there and used to come home to home made soup and fresh bread courtesy of my trusty bread maker but sadly we didn't get to do it as there was a new manager and it had got very clicky and there was loads of "office politics" which was a shame. Still had the soup though!
                  This year we have applied to a couple of organisations so we may be useful again this Boxing day.
                  During Christmas week I go to my mums grave and take her up some flowers. Our Christmas will be a little difficult this year because as well as Christmas eve being the second anniversary of the death of my Uncle, we lost a family member in a quite shocking accident this year as well as a close friend.
                  I really enjoy our Christmas but reailise its not to everyones taste. If we had family then obviously things would be different but it really works for us.
                  To anyone reading this I would just like to say I hope you have a peaceful & happy Christmas filled with everything you want.

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                    24.11.2008 15:52
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                    A great way to break up the winter!

                    My perfect Christmas would be like most people's - spent with loved ones. I would like to go back to when I was a child and my father was still alive, but he was so ill throughout his 38 year life with terminal illness that, if it were possible to go back for even just one day, I could only do so if he was in good health. I have many wonderful memories for which I think myself lucky.

                    Christmas these days is as perfect as can be because it is spent with family. Last year, for the first Christmas ever, I was ill with something awful that was doing the rounds and, if it wasn't for my Mum, who was staying with us for Christmas, and my husband, it may well have been cancelled. Usually, though, I am fighting fit which is what I intend to be this year, having just had my 'flu and pneumonia jabs!

                    Christmas morning nowadays, since the children left home, is just for me and my husband, and my Mum if she is staying. I'm one of four so she is shared out between us all!

                    My husband will do a cooked breakfast, nothing too filling - bacon, eggs and fried bread, while I get the dinner prepared. I do save time by preparing as much as I can in advance so I usually already have the vegetables, stuffing and bacon-wrapped sausages ready for the off on 'the' day.

                    We only open a couple of presents in the morning ( my Mum always has a stocking when she stays) and save the rest until the afternoon.

                    I lay the table for dinner; I try and make a new table centre decoration with candles every year and we always have Buck's Fizz with our dinner. We pull loads of crackers and then have to wear the hats for the rest of the afternoon. I will make a trifle for dessert because we never have room left for the traditional Christmas pudding.

                    After dinner, we clear up and then the rest of the family join us; our eldest son, his wife and the grandchildren - aged eight and five - and our other son and his wife. My husband has the role of taking the presents from under the tree, then takes his time reading the tags (just to wind everyone up) and hands them to the grandchildren to hand out. I place a bin bag ready for all the wrapping paper but none of it goes in because it has become a tradition to roll the paper up into little balls and throw them at everyone else. With so many of us, this means lots of mess and loads of fun. The present-opening can last a good few hours and it's wonderful to be able to share it with the grandchildren; they make Christmas even more special.

                    When everyone gets hungry again, they can just help themselves to cold meat (Turkey, of course, and some ham), pickles and other nibbly things and then the chocolates are opened. By the time everyone is ready to leave, we are all tired but very happy and the only problem is finding enough boxes for everyone to take their presents home in. The rest of the evening is spent chilling out with some wine, more chocolates and basking in the warm glow of the lights on the tree thinking back on a wonderful day.

                    I know people say Christmas has become commercialised but it's what you make it that counts and who you spend it with. I don't spend a fortune on gifts and don't want a fortune spent on me, either. I am more than contented just to spend it with my family, with enough food to eat and a warm home to relax in. I think this year, in particular, under the shadow of the recession, more and more people will realise that Christmas isn't all about spending money but it IS about spending time with loved ones.

                    I hope all Dooyooers have a brilliant Christmas!

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                      24.11.2008 01:03
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                      Remember what really matters!

                      The magic of christmas
                      ******************

                      When l was young, every christmas was perfect. Perhaps because christmas was magical. I still had that belief in the christmas magic. As you get older and wiser you lose that sense of the magic of christmas. Having said that your christmas priorities change.
                      As a child christmas is about the presents, of course it is, christmas is at its best when you are young. But as an adult it tends to be about pleasing people.

                      Christmas has without a doubt become far too commercialised, with businesses praying on the christmas spirit to sell goods, and of course we usually succumb, because we want to bring smiles and laughter to our family and friends faces on that one day a year.

                      However as the credit crunch is hitting families hard, is it not time to reflect upon this? Take a step back and say well actually what makes a perfect christmas isnt the sackful of presents, its about the love, the laughter, the magic and the belief. Christmas time is after all a religious occassion which is often over looked.

                      So what makes my perfect christmas
                      *****************************
                      Ultimately my perfect christmas is about being with the people l love. Lets face it, these days families are very rarely able to all get together. With families often living apart, mine included, being together is rare opportunity, so christmas provides us with the time to do this.

                      Im a bit of a romantic too. The thought of spending christmas beside a log fire, where it is snowing outside is an appealing thought and is a dreamlike idea of christmas. How nice would it be to open the curtains on Christmas morning and find fields of neatly fallen snow... magical!

                      Christmas is about relaxing too, relaxing together and doing what usually sounds quite boring, watching TV together and eating lots of chocolates and traditional chrismas foods, such as mince pies and nuts, and you must not forget to have a christmas drink, or to leave Santa a mince pie!

                      I believe that christmas brings communities together, it is something many of us share in common, a celebration that majority of us celebrate, in which ever way we choose.

                      Christmas lights, christmas markets and general christmas festivities really bring the magic to christmas and there really is a sense of deep warmness about the thought of a cosy warm home with a big christmas tree that lights the whole room on christmas day, whilst singing silly christmas songs, because of too much of the christmas sherry.

                      My perfect christmas would be quite simple really, it would mean everyone would only give gifts they could afford. That the pleasure of christmas would be spending quality time together, watching christmas films, or playing games together and sharing laughter.

                      It seems that christmas can be a very stressful time of year for many families, my perfect christmas wouldnt be stressful at all, it would be stress free.... with a Turkey that cooks its self! Now doesnt that sound perfect?

                      Im sure we all share different ideas of our perfect christmas, the people we would like to be there etc. But lm sure we all agree that it should be a time of celebration, a fun time, one day a year that we share and take ourselves back to the magical christmas days we had as a child.
                      Thats what my perfect christmas is all about!

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                        10.11.2008 16:52
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                        CHRISTMAS IS A TIME FOR FAMILY

                        My perfect Christmas? I've not had one of these for years. The reason? I miss my Grandma and Papa! You might think that this is silly but not for me.

                        My Grandma (Great Gran) died when I was five and my Papa (Great Grandad) died nearly 6 years ago, and Christmas in my family was always a really big time for all the family to come together. It seems to get harder and harder every year to just get on with it like they would have wanted. Unlike everyone else who is normally really happy and jolly at Christmas, I get very low and depressed, don't get me wrong I love Christmas, but its not the same when the people that you love and miss are not there, and I'm sure most of you will understand that feeling.

                        It was especially hard the first year that we were with out Papa, because at least when he was there it made me feel like Grandma was also there too, but now he is gone there is noting there to remind us of them.

                        It has been 18 years since my Grandma passed and there is not a day that doesn't go by that I wish they were both here with me, even just for the silly little things like getting good reviews from your boss, or just telling them about your day.

                        A few years ago was the worst as my Grandad had found a tape that he had recorded from when they were alive. On this tape my Grandad pretended to be Santa leaving me and my brother a message, but in this he mentioned everyone who was sitting at the dinner table with us and as soon as he mentioned Grandma and Papa I burst into tears. I know they wouldn't have wanted this but I couldn't help it. It really made me have a downer for the rest of the day.

                        So my ideal Christmas would be to wake up on Christmas morning and find that I was either 5 again, or they were both her with me. Then we would open all of our presents at my mum and dads house, and make a mess as usual! We would then all fight for the bathroom until we all fell out with each other. After the major pandemonium in the house we would then proceed to my Gran's house to start with dinner. Me and Grandma would cuddle up on the couch like we used to and Papa, my dad and my brother Mark would be talking about cars , while my mum and Gran would be in the kitchen getting everything ready for us to sit down and eat. As usual there would be enough food to feed the whole street with some left over too. After dinner we would then proceed to open the rest of our presents (we always have half at home and the rest at Gran's).

                        I guess the only bad thing would be knowing that after Christmas day was all finished, I would have to go through all the heart ache of having to say good bye to them all over again, but I guess id rather have that than not ever getting to see them again.

                        I know this will never happen but its good to dream, I love you both very much and I miss you like mad. Love you Grandma and Papa. xxxxx

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                          09.11.2008 23:18

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                          christmas

                          well what can i say about christmas day its christmas!!

                          When i was younger it was all about the presents weird how things change, then for a few years where i went through the stage of not enjoying xmas at all (not sure why) guess it just wasnt exciting any more.

                          But now i seriously cant wait for xmas preparing all the little pressies for my lil nieces and nephews.

                          It starts by me and my boyfriend opening pressies together then i will go and pick up my sister and go to my stepdads which is where everyone gathers.

                          Instead of having the traditonal xmas dinner because everyone is usually full up on junk and has no room for the dinner, we decided last year to have a xmas breakfast which was very nice indeed! This year we are going to have a huge buffet it will have the traditonal meats and everything so its still kind of traditional.

                          I love the feel of xmas day its so exciting seeing the litlle kiddies getting all excited but then its nice to be all christmassy and chill on the sofa.

                          I think the best bit is all the family getting together and just having fun playing games like buzz for us (ahem) untill almost 2am, fun times!

                          Just a little snippet of my xmas.

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                          09.11.2008 15:39
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                          we can all dream, can't we?

                          OK so you may think it's a little early to be writing on review on 'my prefect christmas' but with my baby being due around christmas time, i have already started planning, and preparing, buying presents, making christmas card list, and yes I'm ashamed to say started writing them, but I've got to be organized because babies don't come at set times, they turn up whenever they want!

                          Right back to the point, ive never really had any bad experiences with christmas, so i will list how things have been in the past, as some things i would change.

                          ~ My perfect Christmas~

                          *Christmas eve*
                          Is just as exciting as christmas day, and i would try to make it as relaxing as possible, making mince pies, finishing wrapping presents. Watching a few Christmassy films with the children. As im having my family over for christmas lunch i would probably make a start on peeling veg in the afternoon, checking that i haven't forgot anything, making the base for the trifle.
                          It has always been a tradition in our family to go to our local church for the family service, the vicar always asks the congregation to dress up as parts from the nativity scene. It's a lovely sight seeing the little boys dressed up as kings, and shepherds, the little girls dressed up as angels, and Mary, and new parents bringing there little babies dressed up as the Jesus. The service is lovely and afterwards everybody stops for a glass of mulled wine and mince pies, and chocolates for the kids.

                          After being to church we get home, bath the girls and put them to bed, helping them leave a mince pie and glass of orange juice for Santa outside there bedroom door, and hanging up the stockings. Me and my partner would then finish off any little bits, and have tea, and cuddle up on the sofa watching a film ( probably a christmas one) and before going to bed put all the presents out from Santa.

                          * Christmas day*
                          I don't know what it is but no matter how old i am i always get up early on special occasions like birthdays or christmas and im up before everyone else. So i'd probably get up before my partner, get out his presents that I'd been hiding, and put them on his chair, make a coffee, watch some TV until the girls and partner woke up,
                          we'd made a big fuss when the girls wake up, opening their presents, taking photo's, and off course not forgetting to put the turkey in!
                          Next i'd make breakfast, and watch the girls play with their new toy's, my Nan uncle, auntie and cousins would then come round and we'd exchange gifts, have a mince pie and coffee, and they'd go off and do there 'rounds'.
                          About 12 clock my family would turn up for dinner, we'd swap presents, mess about trying to build fiddly things, have drinks and spend time as a family, my mum and sister would be helping me in the kitchen and at about 2 clock we'd all sit down and eat, my dad and brother telling jokes,and listening to the queens speech in the background.

                          In the afternoon, we'd all just be relaxing, eating christmas cake, mince pies, playing games- a favorite monopoly which everybody loves.Then we'd open the tree presents, from friends. The mood would be amazing no agueing, and everyone getting on with every one else. About 6-7 clock, the women would make a cold buffet, of leftover meats, pickles, breads etc, and we'd tuck, finishing whats left of the puddings that was left over from dinner.
                          After my family would go home, and the atmosphere would be great between us all.

                          The main things that would make it a perfect christmas this year would have to be
                          * to wake up to snow on christmas day( yes i can dream)
                          * Not to start labor whilst eating christmas dinner
                          * The atmosphere between our family to be happy
                          * and peace on earth

                          Everybody's christmas should be perfect in there own way, no matter how you spend it, we should all be grateful of the things we have around them, christmas is a time for, love, giving and sharing, and being with people we love.

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                          26.10.2008 19:21
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                          the BEST time of year for me

                          I'm almost 56 but I still behave like a kid at Christmas - ever seen the Mr Bean Christmas episode? - that's me - jumping up & down with excitement on Christmas morning!

                          The best thing about Christmas for me is that 25th Dec is the ONE day a year my hubbie has off work (he's self-employed) so it's great for my daughters & I to have him to ourselves.

                          My daughters are now aged 22 & 17 so the early rising in our house doesn't exist for us anymore so I'm always up first so I can do some preparation in the kitchen & enjoy the moment.
                          My Mum died 5 years ago & I miss her so much but she was a Christmas-lover too so I think she'd be smiling down on us all.
                          I take this quiet time to count my blessings as I take nothing for granted.

                          As long as the house looks overdecorated & Christmassy I'm happy. The tree & other decorations go up on 10th for my daughter's birthday & the presents are beautifully wrapped (in 1/2 price January sale) wrapping paper awaiting their big reveal.

                          Christmas celebrations begin my daughters surface - even at their ages they still like their Christmas stockings which are full of items I've bought throughout the year & include some practical items & some jokey ones.

                          We always have warm rolls with Lurpak - a family tradition going back years - and eat them in our pjs with just the tree lights on.

                          Present-opening follows but I always make sure I have a list of who's given what so that 'thankyou' letters are sent.

                          I love hearing the family laughing & joking whilst I'm in the kitchen - it warms my heart!

                          We generally eat whenever we feel like & only get dressed if we want to as Christmas Day is just us.

                          There are the lovely phone calls from the rest of my family & then it's time to watch some festive films such as Mr Bean & vintage DISNEY Christmas ones - again, part of our traditional day.

                          Lunch is a traditional Christmas roast with all the trimmings followed by Christmas pud.

                          As well as buying all my wrapping paper, gift tags etc in the January sales, I also try to buy really good crackers, so we wear our silly hats & tell the daft jokes & discuss the novelties inside.

                          We usually reminisce about family & friends, past Christmasses, future Christmasses etc. by candlelight & generally just 'chill'.

                          The dishes go in the dishwasher & it's back to film-watching as generally we can't find anything good on TV that suits us all.

                          We like Wallace & Grommit, Creature Comfort-type things - at this time (early evening) we are usually falling asleep so nobody really cares.

                          I feel sorry when I hear that many people get very stressed at this time of year & a bit guilty that I have such a relaxing day with my family.

                          I'm making the most of it now because before hopefully there will be grandchildren & I'll be up at 5am with little ones & Christmas will be totally different but just as enjoyable!

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                            26.10.2008 02:17
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                            Time with my family

                            I am a total big kid when it comes to Christmas. I make sure all my Christmas presents are wrapped up well in advance so I can make preparations on Christmas eve. We usually put out Christmas decorations up mid December. My house is like Santa's grotto as we have to have a stocking each and also one for the pets. We are lucky enough to have a spare room so all the presents are stored in there until Christmas eve.

                            Once the kids are in bed (with new pj's on as that's our tradition) My partner and I bring everything downstairs and lay all the presents out on the chairs. I then have to write each one of my girls a thank you letter for the lovely mince pie and milk and the carrot for the reindeers and sign it off father Christmas. At this point I have already scoffed the items. The presents have to be set out just right on the chairs and I make sure I take a picture too.

                            I'm the one that wakes first all exited and I usually have to give the kids a nudge at around 7am. We take them downstairs and they pen their presents. We like to take pictures of them doing this. When they are playing with their new toys I prepare breakfast as this is the only day in the year that we have a cooked breakfast. Also it is usually wasted as the kids are far to interested in there toys.

                            At around 2 pm we go around my mums house for Christmas dinner. We are all dressed in our new Christmas clothes as you obviously have to make an effort. My children then get a load more toys. I love to then sit down and watch rubbish Christmas films that are on every year feeling stuffed from my mums Christmas dinner. We usually have a small drink with our dinner too.

                            We go home at around 6pm so the kids get to spend some time playing with their new toys and once they go to bed my partner and I will then snuggle in front of the TV and have a few drinks. This is then the point we start worrying about where we are going to put the kids new toys.

                            I really do love Christmas but glad it only comes once a year as it gets so expensive and its all just for one day

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