Health

Here Comes Christmas!

I know that there are a lot of people who feel that Christmas should be kicked firmly back into December  but I love it! I’ve always loved it and I hope I always will. Yes, I KNOW it’s all cliches, pressure to make everything perfect, not forgetting the commercialisation, the enforced religious messages and the bankcrupting expense.. but there is SO MUCH to love. It’s the mid winter festival, it’s about family, good times, forgiveness and nonsensical traditions that we label  “festive.” Love it or hate it, we are all now stuck with it for the next 6 weeks and here are 20 reasons, (in no particular order) why it IS the most magical time of year.

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Christmas Markets. I am very lucky to live near the beautiful city of Winchester, and the Christmas Market located in the stunning grounds of Winchester Cathedral is not only a local tradition, but now also nationally recognised as one of the best in the country.  Independent  jewellery stalls, stands selling all manner of Christmas gifts and goodies, an ice skating rink  and a whole separate area serving Christmas drinks and food, are guaranteed to get you in the Christmas mood.  It is open this year 17 November –  20 December. Don’t miss it!

Christmas Coffee. Ever a Costa fan, I love the Christmas specials they bring out this time of year. Gingerbread and Cream Latte is a personal favourite, but they are also offering Caramelised Orange Latte this year – what’s not to like?

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Christmas Candles.  Yankee Candle is my favourite brand not only because of their gorgeous fragrance, but also because they seem to last longer than other makes. I spent a lovely hour this morning sniffing my way around their dedicated store in West Quay in Southampton.  This year, I love Glittering Star which I bought to sit on my fireplace, and White Cocoa Spice and Gingerbread Frosting because they really smell of Christmas

Open Fire. We have an open fire in the lounge and we light it continually over the autumn and winter period. Not only is it cosy and keeps the whole house warm, (so no need to put heating on), but the cats love to stretch out in front of it, although there are often arguments regarding who gets the prime spot!

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Christmas Parties. I have 5 to go to this year and I look forward to every one! They are such a lovely excuse to dress up and have a lovely meal with friends. I think I probably go out more in December than the rest of the year put together! The first, and traditionally opener for the season, is my BTG night with friends Sally and Helen. It’s a Christmas tradition! Can’t wait to see you ladies!

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Mulled Wine. There is nothing that says ‘Christmas’ more than the taste of spiced mulled wine. Every year I keep promising myself that I will make my own, but until I get around to it, Marks and Spencer offer a lovely inexpensive version. I particularly like the idea that it’s suddenly perfectly acceptable to drink mulled wine while out Christmas shopping!

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Christmas Food. I buy (and eat) things at Christmas that I  wouldn’t dream of having the rest of the year. Foods like pate, Brie, crackers and all manner of dried fruits and nuts,  all start appearing in the kitchen cupboards, to be “saved” for Christmas. They never are of course and usually disappear within a few hours of purchase.

Fairy Lights. I would festoon my house with fairy lights all year round if I could. A couple of years ago at a market I saw a stall selling  fairy lights in empty gin bottles. I now make my own fairy lit decorations.

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Christmas Films. I’ve already started watching seasonal favourites including The Muppet Christmas Carol, Arthur Christmas and The Santa Clause. Traditionally we watch It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve with the family.  I saw The Man Who Invented Christmas yesterday – the story of how Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol – it was magical!

Christmas Music. Christmas tunes are now firmly on my playlist … and I love Fairytale of New York best of all. Phil Spector’s Christmas album is also right up there. And who can resist Christmas favourites from Wizzard and Slade?

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Advent Calenders. I still have wild hopes that someday someone will buy me The Charlotte Tilbury Advent Calendar (£150) ..but that’s probably not going to happen. Until then I will make do with Hotel Chocolat version. (Which is pretty gorgeous in itself.)

Christmas Television. Granted, not what it was, now we all have so many channels available, but who can forget the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Specials with acrobatic newsreaders singing There is Nothing Like a Dame (1977) and and Angela Rippon ( and her legs) walking down the disappearing stairs…  sigh. Is this making you feel OLD?

Family. Having the children home for Christmas is something I look forward to for weeks. I am so lucky that my son and daughter are able to come home for a whole week. Grandparents, aunts and uncles arrive and suddenly there are people sleeping in the attic, in the lounge and the dining room. And we feel like one big happy family. Yes, there is the occasional family argument, but of course that’s what Christmas is all about.

Christmas Stockings. My kids (who are 22 and 19) still get a Christmas stocking every year. What a great start to Christmas morning having presents at the end of your bed! Of course when the kids were tiny, they were waking me up at 5am asking permission to start on the stocking. These days I am trying to wake them at 9am to open the stocking!

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Christmas Carols. I try to go to at least two carol  concerts every year. There is nothing like hearing traditional carols sung by a choir in candle light in a stunning venue such as Winchester cathedral.  Now the children are not in school anymore, sadly I don’t have the option of going to school carol concerts.   The joy of listening to your child as part of a school concert is very special. Make sure you attend and appreciate it if your children are still school age. If you can’t attend services, the BBC broadcast Carols from Kings on Christmas Eve is always excellent.

London At Christmas  I love London at Christmas. The old city in all its twinkling, fairy-light embellished glory is positively magical. Frosted park walks, mulled wine at Christmas markets,  iceskating  and Christmas West End shows, there’s simply no end to the Wintery entertainment offered by our capital. This year Andy and I are seeing A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic. It happily coincides with our wedding anniversary on 22 December.

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Holly. I have holly all over the house at Christmas. Druids considered it a sacred plant. Festive holly on Christmas cards was first seen in Victorian times, but the tree’s connection with Christmas can be traced back to pagan times, when holly boughs were brought in to decorate the house. 

The Radio Times Christmas edition heralds the beginning of Christmas week and I love looking through to see what old films will be on offer and what specials the networks are broadcasting.

Time off. Hopefully everyone gets at least some time off, …. and even if you don’t, hopefully you are getting hefty overtime payments for having to work at Christmas.

And finally if nothing else, Christmas Is The Turning Point of Winter. We are ‘half way out of the dark’  and spring is just around the corner. (Well almost) And, having spent years watching Christmas Specials of Dr Who with the kids, I leave you with this:

“On every world, wherever people are, in the deepest part of the winter, at the exact mid-point, everybody stops and turns and hugs. As if to say, “Well done. Well done, everyone! We’re halfway out of the dark.” Back on Earth we call this Christmas. Or the Winter Solstice.” – Doctor Who, A Christmas Carol

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