The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Every Christmas is different

Cute Christmas Chick

Cute Christmas Chick

Each family has its own Christmas traditions. And when people live together, they bring their own traditions with them. This can cause problems.

“The one thing that I adore about turkey is lashings of bread sauce!”
“What on earth is bread sauce?”
“I loved the way we always sang carols in the car.”
“We ate in the evening and had porridge for breakfast.”
“Presents were only ever opened after tea.”
My step grandmother announced this last comment and watched with horror as we tore open presents at eight am. She stuck to her guns and opened her presents at four o’clock. Sitting in the best armchair she opened a nightdress, handkerchiefs and boxes of soap. Aged ten I watched her ritual. Everyone else seemed to be busy.

In Ireland Danny’s family always lit a candle and placed it on a prominent window, indicating openness and room at the inn. In our house the wobbly Santa with legs made from springs watched from the mantelpiece during December. My mum told us that if we were naughty we might not get a stocking as this spring legged Santa would tell the real Santa Claus.

To be quite honest with you, I hated this Santa. When my mum wasn’t looking, we used to turn him to the wall and stick our tongues out at him, hoping that he couldn’t see. He always faced the room the next morning and this gave him a bit of extra gravitas.

Christmas stockings have always been a big thing with my family. I remember not being able to fall asleep with the anticipation of mine when I was a child. And finally waking to a crackly solid lump stretched over my feet. Tiny, thoughtful and even better, wrapped presents to extend the delight. Always a tangerine wrapped in silver foil at the toe of the sock. Smelling deliciously orangey but rarely eaten.

But even though I adore the surprises in a stocking Christmas is also a time for reflection. So close to the end of the year, most people are reviewing the past twelve months and considering the next year. That’s why I reckon that Christmas can be such a dichotomy. And perhaps this is why so many people fall out at this time of year. It’s hard to balance the seasonal excess with the simple Christian Christmas story.

I am not a practicing Christian but the Christmas story is always a sobering one for me. I always try to listen to the carol service from King’s College Chapel on Christmas Eve. It’s beautiful and cuts right through that tumultuous rush and grab of the shops. Compare your supermarket to that stable. I did that tonight and it shocked me

We’d like to wish a very Happy Christmas to all our readers. Danny, Dr Quito, The Contessa, Inca, our colony of bees (buzz) and flock of chickens (chitter chatter chicken grapevine stuff) are all nodding away as my fingers fly across the keyboard. Every writer needs readers. Thank you everyone for visiting. Giving a great big virtual hug to all of you. Happy Christmas!

Here’s hoping that all our best dreams come true in 2012.



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  1. We had a new one at son and daughter in laws- in DIL’s family they make a trifle from a jam swiss roll cut in to rings on the bottom of the dish, a tin of canned strawberries tipped on top of that, then a custard layer and then a whipped cream layer. It was very tasty on Christmas day.

  2. Not being Christian, I celebrate Christmas as a secular tradition, and as a midwinter festival like those that have been practised for centuries in most of the colder parts of the world. Our family has traditions too, my Mum is Christian and she does try to get to church around this time of year, but with my father gone these 14 years, and few close family left, we generally spend just Christmas Day with my mum and sister, eating and giving gifts, and go to the OH’s parents for a second Christmas on Boxing Day (or they come to us). This year our presents were 90% home made, so I think I at least managed to retain the spirit of real gift giving this year, rather than consumerism. We were both horrified at how many people seemed to be out shopping as we travelled on Boxing Day

  3. Michelle from Oregon

    Too busy hosting to peep on on CSH!
    Merry Christmas Fiona and Danny!
    You and some other dear friends made a dream of mine come true this year! Hugs to you all!
    And here’s hoping there is room for another big dream to come true next year!

  4. Toffeeapple

    Oops, I forgot to look at the blog yesterday – so belated greeting from me to all of you! Hugs!

  5. Merry Christmas, Danny and Fiona and everyone else in this little community of ours, may you all have a fantastic and fruitfull New Year xx

  6. Merry Christmas to you.

  7. And a very Happy Christmas to you and D, and dogs, chickens and other creatures.

  8. brightspark

    Dear Fiona and Danny,
    Thank you and Happy Christmas to everyone.
    Very best wishes for the coming year.

  9. You are also insPirational!! Whoops. too much xmas vino!

  10. Merry Christmas and I hope you have a very happy and fruitful New Year. Thank you for giving me a little peek into your lives, you are both entertaining and insirational people.

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