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A christmas list - make your christmas day special

My Christmas List is the one that has evolved most over recent years.

For it is only since 2004 that I have had my "own" family, before that, even though I tried, my parents told me I would be spending Christmas with them!

So every year, my Christmas List was quite small and concise, it contained packing myself, Soots (my dog) the christmas cards and of course the presents, into the car and traipsing down to the village of Wheathampstead to be with my Mum and Dad.

I didn't mind, and although this was the holiday season, I wasn't waited on hand and foot (I'm far to independent for that!), and I usually had a thoroughly fabulous time, although my Christmas List wasn't extensive it did its job effectively.

Looking back I can see how some things became routine, between the three of us.

Other things would depend on how the year, and of course, the day evolved.

I think it would be fair to say, that although there wasn't a formal christmas list, there definitely was an unwritten one, that we instinctively went by.

our routine...

I would normally be first up Christmas morning, no, not eager to get into presents, but in order to do the vegetables for the day.

I enjoyed the quiet tranquil morning.  Doing this also made sure that Mum got some time off her feet (she'd of cleaned top to bottom the week before!), and in very many ways it formed part of her present.

I'm not exactly a morning person, but this gave me the opportunity to get the "morning blues" out of my system.

Dinner was then put in the oven by Mum.  Cooked by Dad, whose also set the table.  We then would serve dinner together.

I would enjoy Christmas Eve with them, usually wrapping Dad's presents for Mum (or she'd get the exact same gift box, year on year!), and we'd have a drink or two, sometimes with friends and/or family. For me it was very much the "true" meaning of Christmas, and certainly made me feel more Christmassy!

Things changed in 2006 for two reasons, which you may have already come across on this site. My daughter was born in the May, and I was unfortunate enough to lose my Mum in the October.

That was a very strange Christmas. My sister and I had agreed between ourselves, that we would all be 'doing' Christmas at our childhood home, for us it felt that that was where we needed to be. However it was also Beth's First Christmas, and I so wanted for her to be at our home. So we compromised, and stayed home to wake on Christmas morning in our house, and later headed to Wheathampstead to spend the next few days with family. Although a little bit tainted, it was in essence a very nice Christmas.

Since then however we have held Christmas at home, and to date, Beth hasn't woken before 7. However as I sit and write this, it's 2010 and she is 4 this year, so I expect we will be seeing her little face a little earlier this year!

Well it will just mean I'm up in time to get those vegetables really well prepared....just as the Christmas List suggests I should!


I have some very fond childhood memories, but we were never sure if we would all be together on Christmas Day, as my Dad was in the Fire Service.

As a local firefighter he was often scheduled to be working some, part, or all of Christmas.

This can make things a little different to the usual household, and Christmas often didn't "start" until Dad got home. It was quite clear therefore that Mum had two routine's, whether they were on a written Christmas List, or not, I will now never know.

In my childhood home, the stairs went up the front of the house, over the front door.  At the bottom of the stairs, there was a big window. When Dad had been on duty and was due home, I would wait for him there, watching for a glimpse of the car so that I was the first to see him.

This became a routine, and Dad always looked for myself, and later my sister, to see if we were waiting for him.

If we weren't, his first questions was "Where are the girls?".

Normally the only reason that we wouldn't be there was if we had been naughty...., but we were lovely kids, absolute angels, so that didn't happen often...... honest!

Anyway on this particular Christmas Day morning, my sister and I had woken early and as was our tradition, we'd opened the gifts in our stockings and checked them off against our own Christmas Lists.

We knew Dad had been on nights, and would be due home around 9am. So, we were in position early. 9 o'clock came and went, 9.15... 9.30... Mum was getting a little twitchy now.

My little sister was eager to see what Santa had brought and asked Mum if we could open just one of our main presents. Although only about 9 years old myself, I wouldn't let her! We had to wait for Dad to join us.

Every Christmas he gave the presents out from under the tree, we didn't help ourselves, and although Mum said we could I felt it wasn't right. So we continued to wait...

Now usually on Christmas morning, firefighters being the big softies that they are, those that are switching to be on 'Days' come in that little bit early, so those with kids can head home quickly. But we were now heading towards 10am, and still no sign or sound from Dad. By this time, Mum had also joined us at the bottom of the stairs.

I can't remember the exact time, (and I should probably point out, this was in the days before mobile phones, even those house-brick ones) but Dad eventually arrived home, mid-morning. He was absolutely shattered, and, as with all bad fires, despite showering, still stank to high heaven.

He had been out, on a shout (the term used), and he had been there most of the night. It was quite clear that all he wanted to do was curl up, with some peace and quiet, and get some rest.

He couldn't believe that we hadn't opened our presents, and it didn't take long (my sister desperately hanging onto his legs, begging him) for him to 'give-in' and hand them out.

I believe this was the first year that I helped with getting Christmas Dinner ready, perhaps that is why it sticks in my mind? Or maybe it's the first time I appreciated how much goes into making Christmas Day special.

Of course, it's a story I will be able to tell my children when they wake me at a god-unearthly hour. But I can also offer them a little bit of wisdom with the Christmas List, on how to run a successful Christmas Day. I can also impress on them why those people who do not use a Christmas List sometimes have hiccups on their days! 

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