So the Christmas and New Year excitement is over and life has returned to normal. I always find taking down the Christmas decorations to be a slightly sad experience. The house seems so dreary without them. Even though they are only up for a few weeks, they do make the house (and life) seem more cheerful.
How was your Christmas? This year ours was a very quiet one spent in a traditional way which to some extent reflects my memories of childhood Christmases. I suppose that I try to recreate for my daughter the Christmas experience that I had as a child. We had lovely Christmases as children. I have a twin brother and slightly older brother and it was great fun taking it in turn to open present before lunch, which we knew would be delicious! My mother was an excellent cook so her Christmas lunch was something we eagerly looked forward to every year. I doubt that I am such a good cook as my mother but fortunately the family do seem to enjoy the Christmas lunch that I prepare. Now that my family is grown up, the day is spent without the arguments and tears that can develop from over excited children becoming over tired. Christmas spent without young children is a far different affair but hopefully we will have grandchildren within the next few years to share Christmas with.
I think we all develop family traditions for Christmas. For me growing up in a smallish house in North London, it was church on Christmas Eve; open stocking presents with my brothers on waking on Christmas morning; open larger presents when my parents were up and about; visit neighbours to wish them Merry Christmas; wait for Gran to arrive and then tuck into lunch. Christmas afternoon was spent playing with our presents (and normally arguing over them) whilst the adults had an after lunch doze!
My daughter has established the tradition that she opens her stocking sitting on our bed (yes, she is still indulged with a stocking even though she is in her 20s!) and then she sorts out the main presents that have been placed under the tree into piles for each family member. Presents are then opened once everyone is washed and dressed and the turkey is safely in the oven. We tend to light a real fire (whether we need it or not!) and proceedings are accompanied with a glass of champagne and nibbles.
These days New Year’s Eve is never my favourite time of year. I find it to be such an anti-climax. My birthday is on 3 January so New Year now seems even more closely associated with becoming another year older! When I was a teenager living in London, New Year’s Eve was a big event. We always ended up for the countdown in Trafalgar Square which was crowded with people, most of whom had probably had too much to drink. But it was a fun time with everyone being friendly and cheerful. Nowadays I am content to watch Jools Holland on the telly and feel glad that I am not part of some large, bustling crowd. I wonder when I became so boring?!
This year, however, my husband and I did go out to a restaurant for a meal and celebrated New Year with champagne but I was tucked up safely in bed by 1.00!
But now we are well and truly into 2014. Most people are back at work and Christmas has become a distant memory. It is probably going to be a year of great change for me but hopefully it will be a very positive year for all of us.