Christmas is a special time of year. A time to spend with the family. Every family creates their own traditions and over the years these adapt and change as the family reaches different stages in life. Each Christmas is special, a time to spend time together and forget the stress of everyday life for a few days. A time to sit down at the table and chat, to catch up with each other instead of rushing around on the way to and from places. A time to open gifts and to tell cheesy jokes.
When I was little Christmas was always a magical time. We used to get a real Christmas tree and the smell of pine always makes me think of the red crepe paper we wrapped the base in and the twinkling fairy lights. We used to decorate the tree with baubles which increased in number over the years and were associated with memories of Christmas past. Some we bought on our holidays, some were gifts, some were home-made. Putting up the tree always brought these memories back and made them vivid again. Santa has his own special magic. We used to put out a carrot for the reindeer, a mince pie and Christmas cake for Santa and excitedly stay up as long as we could hoping to catch a glimpse. Sometimes we could hear him creeping about placing the presents and I would always screw up my eyes tight, pretending to be asleep in case he realised. At the back of our minds there was always the worry he would not come and in the morning there was excitement as we unwrapped gifts.
When you have your own child you start to make your own traditions. Every Christmas I decorate the tree and find I have created my own box of memories. With baubles that my son made at nursery, photo baubles and decorations sent to us by friends dressing the tree is magical. Every year my son looks at the tree ornament that is his hand print preserved in clay and compares his hand now to it. Every year since he has been a baby Santa has been coming. Santa is now more high tech, we track him on his journey on NORAD Santa tracker. We watch as he flies over Easter Island and gradually gets closer and closer to us. When he enters Europe my son starts to get really excited and only when he feels he is near Britain can I get him to bed. We always leave out a carrot for the reindeer, the same as I did and cut some Christmas cake and leave a mince pie for Santa. We also leave out a glass of milk, after all Santa shouldn’t drink and drive. In the last few years I have had to leave out a carrot for each reindeer, rather than just one. My son insisted that this was only fair.
This year my son will be thirteen. Sadly he is now too old for Santa to visit. Christmas will be really strange without having him come to the house and waiting for the magic of the rustling paper. This year we will have to make new family traditions and create a new magic. I know I will still be watching Santa as he tracks the globe though. After all he has to be real, how else would they be able to track him?