Watching my children on Christmas morning I am always looking at their faces. Trying to judge if they are truly happy with their gifts, nervous that Santa has messed up and should just have stuck to the list.
When I see their face light up I think, that’s it, that’s the moment they will remember. We are making memories at this moment.
When I think back on my childhood Christmases however, with the exception of one much wanted bike, I struggle to remember any other gift I received.
I am sure I received much longed for, thoughtful gifts, but they play no part in my Christmas memories.
My memories, although at times unconventional, are made up of people, of smells, of preparation, of anticipation.
Growing up, for my early years, in a pub meant some rather unusual Christmas memories!
One of my earliest is of the trek of ‘regulars’ through our kitchen to avail of the illicit pint on Christmas morning after mass.
One particular Christmas morning gathering resulted in the guards raiding the pub and people ran through the house, hiding upstairs, to prevent getting caught. I can still picture my dad, uncle and grandad sitting nonchalantly in a smoke filled lounge, convincing the poor guard that they were the sole cause of the many half empty glasses and a room full of smoke!!
I remember thinking it was ever so exciting.
Moving down to the farm from the pub meant our memories became somewhat more conventional.
One of the most evocative memories is the the smell of braised red cabbage being prepared, even now as I prepare it for our Christmas table the smell of it transports me back to our kitchen at home.
For many years the baking of ‘nutty fingers’ ( almond fingers) signalled the start of Christmas, and although they are a bit of a faff to make, I still feel Christmas hasn’t begun until a batch has been made.
For me Christmas has always been enhanced by the extra people at the table. My uncle who came to us every other year, our cousins who came to us the years their dad was serving overseas and my aunt who spent one brilliant Christmas Day with us.
My most treasured memories of Christmas come, not from childhood, but from my teenage years and early twenties, when Christmas was all about meeting up and reconnecting.
Getting dressed up with my sisters to go out on Christmas Eve, singing ‘When Granma Got Rolled Over By A Reindeer’ on the way out ( and most likely on the way home again!!). The spiced beef sandwiches on our return from our nightout. Chatting, until far too late, about who was home for Christmas and what had changed from last year.
Ignoring our father’s disapproving looks and having a glass of wine in the kitchen as we helped mum.
Perfect pavlovas and dressing the trifle, stealing some ham despite the dire warnings not to touch it!
Mum sitting at the table with her apron still on, and plates heaving with delicious food.
Memories of visiting Granny’s after Christmas dinner, where anything less that 18 at the Christmas table was considered a quiet Christmas. Returning home and laughing until we cried playing board games with my parents and uncle.
Sleep-ins on St Stephen’s Day and the excitement of the post Stephens Day hunt ball.
I find myself consciously trying to recreate the best memories of my childhood for my children (without the guard raids!!) but also trying to create our own Christmas traditions and memories.
Through all this I am aware that the very best of Christmas memories are not tied up in gifts, or indeed in Santa, but in the people around the table. There is a little bit of magic for our children in their belief in Santa but I know that when this stage passes there is a whole other wonderful side of Christmas to come and I am looking forward to that phase too.
I am delighted to be taking part in Science Wows Linky on Christmas Memories.
If you would like to take a trip down other memory lanes, or share your own, head on over for some great reads.