This Christmas Day tradition was broken as I woke up in my default bedroom at my parent's house, rather than at my Nan's where this year's celebrations were being held. Every year my family (cousins, aunts etc) all descend on one house to stay for the duration of the festive season from Christmas Eve until the day after Boxing Day. I can barely remember a time when Christmas was not spent this way.
Over the years there's been talk of how things will change when things like babies arrive but I've generally brushed this aside, preferring to dwell in my safety bubble of routine. One year, I was slightly perturbed to spend Christmas away from my family in a whole other country during my year on the road. I, of course, rationalised this as unavoidable, a one-off and something to relish regardless but still tried to keep myself part of family tradition, dressing up on Boxing Day in fancy dress attire according to the chosen theme as is now customary and e-mailing over images of costumes.
This year, the “young ones” (my generation – the cousins and sis) were all apparently otherwise engaged on Christmas Eve so it had been decided to meet-up at church on the morning of Christmas Day to then move on to my Nan's where we'd stay for the next two nights. In addition to by-passing our traditional Christmas Eve meal, stockings were being over-looked.
Every year, regardless of age, members of my family open stockings together after church before lunch is served. Back in the day when we were wee ones, this was of course done before church. This year it was not part of the line-up so my mum, dad, sister, boyfriend and I were to open stockings together before driving over for church.
Naturally things didn't go according to plan and the elements intercepted. On Christmas Eve my sister announced she was stuck in Hereford due to flooding disrupting the rail network so would be spending Christmas alone; as she broke this news, my dad was ringing my mum to say he too was stranded in a flood zone. We spent Christmas Eve pointlessly waiting for the RAC's extremely shoddy service to never arrive and reschedule twice more days later.
As a result of these unexpected occurrences, we were one man down for stocking opening and my dad and I went to church alone while the others continued to rethink car loading. In addition to this, my cousin who's still in Australia was absent and another cousin controversially chose to spend much of Christmas with her extremely unpopular ex-husband, resulting in numbers being thin on the ground.
All being said, there were still fourteen of us for much of Christmas and the Port, Snowballs and Pudding Wine freely flowed. Aside from the Queen's speech, the no TV rule was vigorously applied with games played instead. There are preposterous photographs of us dressed as German characters, multiple black sacks of wrapping paper to show and my already worrying pre-Christmas paunch has grown considerably. Things change but it is all about what you make of it as this shockingly bad Christmas cracker joke, that divided the table, perfectly illustrates: