I wouldn’t normally be gracing your screens with a festive themed post this early in the year, however, last year I was far from organised so this year will be different.
The 15th of September marks the 100 day countdown to the big day, so on that day I am going to sit down with a notebook and pen and get my lists done. Preparations to be made, things to do, gift lists, card lists, food lists. I am going to be organised.
Like my Mam and my Nana did before me, I get my food prep under way in a couple of months in advance. October/November always saw the start of the festive baking. My mother made the Christmas cakes and they were wrapped up tight in layers of parchment and foil so they could ‘mature’ in time for Christmas. She would then take them and make her own marzipan for them and on top of that she would add lots of royal icing. She would pipe on Merry Christmas and add a sprig of holly or those plastic Santa’s that were all the rage on top of cakes in the 80’s.
Whilst Mammy took care of the cakes, my Nana used to make puddings for all the family. She used the very traditional cloth method . These were the darkest, richest, most aromatic, moist puddings I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. I remember these big round , heavy cloths hanging from my Nana & Granddad’s kitchen ceiling for what seemed like months, though was probably weeks, how that ceiling never caved in is beyond me! I remember as Nana made the puddings, being called to the table where she’d be mixing away and being told that it was almost ready to go in the cloth, so it was time to make a wish. And so I would take the wooden spoon and do my best to stir this thick, rich dark mix that smelled so good and wish , of course, that Santa would leave whatever toys I asked for on Christmas Eve.
While I don’t always make cake and pudding, I will start to gather my ingredients over the next couple of weeks so I can make huge jars of mincemeat for my mince pies. If I close my eyes and concentrate I can smell it already!
My mother, like myself, was a lover of lists, so around this time she would have her Christmas card list written, there were two sides to this family and friends in Ireland and family and friends who lived abroad along with the last postal dates on it. This one was very important of course as along with the cards there would be letters written and even photographs included in some of them. I haven’t carried on my mothers Christmas card tradition in that I don’t send many cards within Ireland and the children make their special ones. I do however, like her, have my international list. Special cards are chosen and letters are written. I am not always organised enough to have photographs to go in!
Then there was the gift list. Christmas gift shopping was started early. With four children of her own and lots of nieces and nephews, brothers, sisters and grandparents to buy for this was one particular area where she really did have to be organised. This is something we have changed with children only being the main recipients of Christmas gifts. I like to encourage the children to get crafty too and make some of their special gifts.
It is lovely to carry on some of the traditions, but it’s even better to now be creating new traditions with our own children. When we were children the visit to Santa was always easy, nearly every department store or supermarket had a little house with Santa in a corner of it. These days we need to be thinking about it and quite often booking it as early as September. It has turned into a big affair, creating the most magical memories for families not just the children.
An evening in late November will see us have our very important Santa Letter writing party, a highlight every year as the final decisions are set on paper.
On the 1st of December the Christmas tree will go up. This is a much loved day in our house, just as it was when I was a child (though we never had it up quite as early!) We used to love, as my children do now, rummaging through the decoration box and remembering where different decorations came from or if they had particular meaning behind them.
My mother was quite religious and would bring us to every church in Wexford to look at the crib at Christmas time. Neither my husband or I are of a religious disposition, instead of going to see cribs in churches, we bring the children out to see Christmas lights and we finish the evening off with a festive movie and hot chocolate topped with marshmallows and some delicious homemade cookies.
As December approaches there is always so much excitement in our home, I sometimes wonder if I have bombarded my children with too many traditions between those from my own childhood and those we have created but when I hear infectious giggles at Jingles the Elf, see smiles lit up by Christmas lights, watch enthusiastic flour covered hands create cookies for Santa I soon change my way of thinking. We are simply filling their heads with a myriad of happy memories end inspiring traditions to carry our with their own children when the time comes.
Now this post about how organised I am going to be for the festive season has instead turn into a rather reminiscent tale, is it any wonder I don’t be organised? I better fetch my notebook…..
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Disclosure: I was not paid to offer you a discount code for Paperless Post.