Tell me about your Christmas – and raise funds for homeless charity

Everyone has a a book in them, or so the saying goes. I reckon I've got at least three in me. The first is a novel I started writing one NaNoWriMo and quickly abandoned – but I may come back to it another time. The second is an autobiographical book about parenting a child with ADHD that I'm partway through writing now. And the third is about Christmas.

When I was a kid I thought Christmas was the same for everyone. Every family did things the same way as we did because – well, because that's what Christmas was. And as I grew up and spent Christmas with other families I found it odd that actually their Christmas was different to my Christmas – sometimes very different.

There was the family that always ate out on Christmas Day, rather than settling down to a home cooked turkey. The family who celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve. The family who hid all the presents round the house in a mad treasure hunt, and the family who opened them so slowly there were still presents under the tree at New Year. Families who covered the house in lights and others who had a single unadorned plastic tree.

Christmas is different for everyone, and when we have our own families we take the traditions we liked most and give them our own twist, creating yet another unique Christmas experience. In our family my dad put the lights on the tree and we children decorated it. In our house now it's always my job to put the lights on the tree, and the kids' to add the baubles. But whereas the presents of my childhood remained hidden away until Christmas morning, now they slowly build up under the tree, with Katie squeezing and prodding the ones at the front to work out what might be in them!

Tell me about your Christmas!

So I'll get to the point of this post. I want to write a book about Christmas, to be published in December 2013, with at least 50% of the proceeds going to someone like Shelter or Crisis at Christmas. It's going to be about Christmas – my Christmas and your Christmas, the quirks and rituals and traditions that make every family's Christmas unique. But I need your help – I need you to tell me about your Christmas, either now or in the past. You might want to tell me about:

  • Preparations – who does what
  • Christmas Eve – what happens?
  • Religion – church, mass, carols?
  • Santa – what did you leave for him?
  • Stockings/socks/pillowcase – or something else?
  • Your Christmas tree and decorations
  • Christmas Day – what happens?
  • Food
  • Traditions and rituals
  • Presents – when/where? Best ones, worst ones, strangest ones
  • Family – who visits? Where do they sleep?
  • Anything else that made your Christmas special?

You could tell me about your Christmas this year, or about Christmas in your childhood – whether that was in the 40s, 60s or 80s. You can tell me as little or as much as you'd like. I'd also love to hear about Christmas in other countries because I'm sure there are some lovely customs and traditions that we never hear about. I'd love to get as many different Christmas experiences as possible – so please do get in touch. I'm planning on using first names only in the book with contributors thanked at the end, though you can remain anonymous if you'd prefer. And remember, I'll be donating at least 50% of the profits to a homeless charity, so you would be helping a great cause.

To tell me about your Christmas you can contact me here. You can either write it down or we can talk on the phone (or face to face if you're local to me in Oxfordshire) . Alternatively leave your Christmas experiences in the comments below, or leave a note asking me to contact you. I reserve the right to edit your story but will send you a preview copy so you can have final approval. And please do share this post far and wide – I would especially love to get stories of Christmas in countries other than the UK!

 

2 thoughts on “Tell me about your Christmas – and raise funds for homeless charity”

  1. Hi
    Well Christmas is quiet these days – but has always been a very family time. I’ll tell you about my childhood Christmases

    I am the daughter of a methodist minister – so Christmas was always one of my dad’s busiest times. As children we would hear dad go out to take the late service on Christmas eve while we laying sleeplessly excited in our beds – and that always seemed a very mysterious thing – so when we got older and went along on Christmas Eve ourselves and found it was just another shorter church service later at night we were I suspect disappointed.
    Mt Dad loved Christmas – religiously it was important to him, but he had such a sense of fun, and was a bit of a big kid too. He often played Santa to the church playgroup.
    On Christmas day – obviously church first – well first my sister and I would be up way too early to open the santa gifts in the pillow case at the end of our beds. There was a famous year when we got bikes and Santa senisbly left them in the hall downstairs. After breakfast – we went to church clutching one or other of the gifts Santa had left. It was always a family service – and Dad would always call the kids to the front to show off their gifts. He would hitch up his cassock get down on his knees (no mean feat he was a big bloke) and investigate the toys with real enthusiasm. Then home to a wonderful dinner – it’s always been the best dinner of the year – my mum is a wonderful cook, and she never has a problem with all that juggling and timing things to perfection. After dinner while Mum and Dad washed up – mum couldn’t bear to leave it till later – my sister and I would number the tree presents. Using Dads address labels we’d number each parcel and put a corresponding number in a bowl. This game was invented by my parents to keep us occupied while they cleared up dinner. Then we would eventually to much excitement get around to opening. This too was a game which went on for hours. Everyone got to dip in the bowl and draw out a number. The gift with that number was eventually located – and the person concerned got to open it. It amazes me now how many gifts we’d have between the four of us – over fifty most years I’m sure. All through the opening my Dad would sit with a clipboard and sheet of paper jotting down who had been sent what by whom – my sis and I teased him about it for years. He was very particular and organised in some respects – labeled everything, filed everything : ) By the time presents were done with it would be dark. We have some tea – cake and sandwiches or something and settle down with the telly.
    Dad died 5 years ago – and since his death we (me, Mum, sister and brother in law) have spent a couple of Christmases away – self catering property but still a family time, as Mum’s bungelow is small – but two years ago bad weather meant we had to cancel last minute – so we’ve gone back to spending at Mum’s house, we stay over for a couple of nights – all squashed in quite cosily. My sis and I don’t do church relly now, though mum is a methodist lay preacher (called local preacher in methodist church) and has been preaching since she was 18 – she’ll be 72 in March so church is important to her – and she is in two choirs. So we will all join her at Midnight communion at her church on Christmas eve – she loves it when we go with her. I won’t take communion though but stay in my seat – I don’t feel it’s right to have it just once a year. On Christmas day this year – I am sure we’ll be telling stories again of Dad and his clip board – we stopped numbering presents some years ago now, probably around the time we left home.

  2. That’s fantastic, I love the tree game, and as my Christmas has never been a religious one the insight into yours is. Fascinating. Thanks!

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