I like traditions; I find them comforting, exciting, interesting. Some traditions are so deep rooted that few people even know how they began and some we start ourselves, sometimes without knowing.
I started a tradition without even knowing!!!
It was born of vanity and perfectionism lol. When Beth was a toddler, I would give her breakfast in her pyjamas. No matter how careful we were, no matter how huge the bib, apron etc, she always spilt her food all over her top. Eventually even porridge, stains. So knowing that I’d be harassing her with the camera on Christmas morning, being the perfectionist that i am and not wanting to embarrass her in later life, I would buy her brand new pyjamas to wear on Christmas Eve. I’d wrap them up and when I let her open just one present on Christmas Eve, conveniently she would find my parcel at the front of the tree.
As the years went by, I continued to buy new pyjamas each year, mainly out of habit. I hadn’t realise it had entered the realm of ‘tradition’ until this year when mid-December, whilst snooping under the tree, Beth said; ‘there aren’t any presents for me under the tree yet. What will I wear for bed!!??’
So here is Beth in her Christmas pyjamas, watching ‘The Snowman’ before bed. I think because she’s an only child it’s even more important to uphold the little traditions that she likes. Growing up in a large family, we had hundreds!! My brother Daniel would go downstairs first on Christmas morning, marching like the Nutcracker to check if Father Christmas had been (to this day I don’t know why!), us girls would sleep with our hair in rags so that we’d have ringlets on Christmas day and maybe the most unusual of all, all five of us would sleep in the same bed on Christmas Eve.
It wasn’t a well thought out tradition, it just happened. Once again, a tradition begun quite by accident.
I’m the oldest and when my sister Jenny was a very little one, she just couldn’t sleep one Christmas Eve. I remember she got so upset that Father Christmas wouldn’t come unless she slept, so I told her she could climb into my bed and I’d read her stories until she drifted off. The next year, she just climbed in with a book, why waste a moment! The next child to come along was Daniel and as soon as he was out of a cot, he was in with us on Christmas Eve. Some years I’d read to them for hours, hearing our parents going to bed whilst we were still whispering, quickly feigning sleep for their last ‘check in’.
Nicole and then Heather followed and again, once out of their cot, they were informed of the strict Christmas tradition, that everyone slept in Rachel’s bed and told stories on Christmas Eve. Long after I no longer believed I would help them hear sleigh bells outside. It was magical.
I remember the first Christmas Eve I spent without them, my first Christmas as a young Mum. I think we all felt a bit odd. Even now, a decade later, I think of my younger siblings as I switch of the lights: all grown up now, but how I loved being their big sister.
Everyone thinks our tradition is weird! I wonder what weird traditions other families have?