I remember learning the word 'amarcord' some years ago.
It basically means 'remembering with nostalgia' or 'Remembering the good bits'. I wonder if that's why Christmas as a kid seemed to have more routine or whether with the internet and social media that the pace of life is just faster now and people are pulled in differing directions?
Some people seem to know exactly how they will spend Christmas every year and where. I don't think I've felt like that for years. After Dad died, of course things were never the same. The first Christmas was a blur, the second Christmas my Mum insisted she wanted to be on her own. I had a boyfriend (Now the ex-husband) so we had dinner with my Mum then went to his Mum and Dad's, but I didn't feel right leaving Mum on her own.
When we bought our first house we tried to get into a routine of alternating where Mum went at Christmas, one year at mine, the next at my Brothers. That didn't always work out, like the year I had a generous helping of the flu and the Norovirus together. We had a ready meal type Christmas dinner that went through me quicker than you can say "Has Santa been". I certainly had.
Another year I decided I'd cook Christmas dinner. Despite doing prep for two days, it still took nearly all day! It was dark by the time we sat down to it. I'd bought the husband a stein as one of his gifts. I forget how many times he filled it but needless to say he'd gone past dinner by the time it was served, and after all that I managed to let the pan boil dry with the Christmas pudding in, filling the house with smoke.
In my defence I had gone to town, even making my own gravy. It was only some time later I found out an element in my cooker wasn't working, hence my timings were out and why my chicken had taken the best part of a day to cook!
For the three years that followed we went out for dinner at local(ish) pubs. I enjoyed that. It gives you more time to spend with the family and it's less hassle. The down side is that it's so bleedy expensive. Don't get me wrong, I can see why, people are giving up their Christmas to cook for you. The other down side is that someone can't have a drink with their meal.
Last year was a quiet one. Just me and my partner for Christmas dinner. He'd just come out of hospital so he gave instructions from his chair and I cooked. This year, Mum came to stay for Christmas.
One thing that has remained routine is Boxing Day games. Normally Mum does a buffet - English tapas - think 70's style, cheese and pineapple on sticks, sausages on sticks, but this year it was at my house. The games have varied. Some years its been trivial pursuit or TV quizzes.
I've not had a real tree since I left home. I miss a real tree but it's not really practical. We bought an artificial one the first Christmas in our first home. Its never fit back in the box since and I swear it gets bigger every year. There are now bags and bags of it. I decided to have two trees in the house this year and bought another one!
With not having kids, I don't really have decorations that have a history a deep meaning, (yes my Mum has got the loo roll Santa out again this year that I made when I was 8), just lots of different coloured baubles from each seasons colour trend. That said, the past couple of years, I've bought a special decoration, one that's a bit pricier and will go on the tree every year regardless. Last year it was a beautiful glass bauble containing a white feather from the Winter Wonderland in Nottingham, this year it was beautiful Cinderella carriage I spotted in a local garden centre. Cinderalla was the first panto I ever saw and remains my favourite fairy tale. As Julia Roberts says in Pretty Woman, 'We all want the Fairy Tale'.
Speaking of Panto, for several years now. I've been lucky enough to be able to review some of the local pantomimes each year, they're a great way of kickstarting the festive season as they run from the beginning of December (and a reminder that I need to start my Christmas shopping) I think you have to include entertainment somewhere in your plans, and nothing says Christmas like a carol concert. Maggie's is one of my favourites each year and raises money for a great cause.
I still love the sounds of Christmas. You'll usually catch me working with Christmas music on my PC. In my car I've currently got Kylie's Christmas Album, Michael Bubles and, don't laugh, Johnny Mathis -it just reminds me so much of being a kid and the Christmas magic.
Again, not having kids means I've missed out on the magic of Santa. I've taken the dog to see Santa Paws but I think he takes after me being scared as a kid. He wasn't too bad the first year but subsequent years he's not been happy at all, so I didn't take him this year. I think I was taking him more for me than him.
All I want for Christmas is You.....and a new phone, and a new camera, and....
Personally I don't write to Santa. I stick it on my Amazon wish list, a great idea introduced to me by some friends. It allows people to see what you want and buy it from Amazon or tick off if you've bought it from elsewhere. Santa has the internet these days, right?
Christmas Eve is normally present exchange day. I don't have a large family to buy for, so there's not so much driving round the houses as there was as a kid. I went to Mum's house this year as did my brother and his family and obviously Mum had mince pies and mulled wine at the ready.
One thing I am coming to realise over the years in trying to find the perfect Christmas is that you can actually try too hard. You can try and go to too many events trying to recapture that childhood magic and end up underwhelmed not to mention run down and exhausted.
I know it sounds cliche, but Christmas is in your heart. It's about the way you feel and the way you make others feel and no event or activity can bring that magic if you don't open yourself up to it. So in fact, Christmas can be right there at home with loved ones and you're out searching for it.
So, we're now at that weird time between Christmas and New Year where no body knows what day it is and our stomachs have no idea what's coming next.
Time for another mulled wine and to put my feet up and see what this year brings. Speaking of which, I still don't know what I'm doing for New Year's Eve either. Do you?