This is the last post of my Advent series, and it's really ironic that I planned this post over a month ago, as it's where I show you family photos snapped a few Christmases ago with no thought of presenting them to the blogging public! This ties in with the discussion about only showing the 'perfect' when we blog. Well, here are some rather blurry family snaps: frazzled parents, cobwebs and all!The best thing about Advent, for me, is the preparation – putting Christmas into its proper place so it can be celebrated with fresh enthusiasm. For us, we get very enthusiastic indeed on Christmas Eve, with traditions taken almost entirely from Ben’s family. On Christmas Eve morning, the house gets a really serious tidy-up. It’s gonna need it for what follows… The tree, which grows in a pot outside the house for the rest of the year, is brought in and put in place. After lunch, the paper chains are strung up. We keep the old ones if we have space, and mend them or make new ones out of last year’s Christmas wrapping paper plus other colourful bits and bobs saved over the year. This needs to be done in advance if you want a big show! Once the chains are up, it may well be time for Carols from Kings on Radio 4. Now we’re in France this puts the timing out a bit (we’re one hour ahead, of course), but we make an effort. If we can’t get the timing right, we have some good classical Christmas CDs.
Now the Christmas boxes can come out, and the tree is decorated. All the usual family ‘discussions’ related to taste, ‘less is more’ etc ensue, but it’s generally a lot of fun to work together to decorate the tree! The decorations, all of which have been bought or made over the years and hold a lot of memories, come out, plus any new ones the boys have made this year. As well as the tree decorations, we have some for the mantelpiece and plenty for the stairs, which are a focal point in our house. Once the decorations are up, it’s time to sit down with some drinks and nibbles. At Ben’s parents’ house, this works very well, when there are plenty of adults gathered together for a civilised sherry. When it’s just the four of us, crisps and cola may be more the order of the day, but Ben and I usually find time for a French liqueur or similar…
As you can imagine, saving all this until Christmas Eve isn’t actually difficult when Advent is such fun. It certainly makes Christmas very special and new, and means that we can celebrate the whole Twelve Days of Christmas without the desperate urge to Get That Tree Out of the House that you get when it’s been up since early December.
In France, new traditions that keep the celebrations going have been added to the ones we brought with us. I think you’ll have to wait until January to find out what we do, although I’m sure my friends at French Village Life, Suzy's Vintage Attic and Marigold Jam have a good idea…
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