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Christmas, for us, is about traditions. We’re not religious, so a visit to church for Midnight Mass or a crib service doesn’t feature. Instead, our focus is on family and love and togetherness. I guess these are all pretty much running themes in any religious festival really.

Three years ago I was just over three months pregnant with our baby, Frog. That year, the (self-proclaimed) Northern Love Machine and I decided to “do Christmas” ourselves. Being the fierce family types that we were, the thought of either of us ditching one of our family’s in favour of the other’s just didn’t feel right. So we made a pact to spend our first Christmas just the two of us, visit our beloved families together afterwards and to spend our time alone creating our own traditions.

Some of these traditions were taken from our own childhoods and some were from things that we both liked to do (mainly eating and drinking related).

The NLM savours fond memories of going out as a family for dinner on Christmas Eve. We haven’t replicated that exactly, but we’ve taken our own twist on it. Today, we celebrated the arrival of the season we both love – a love we appear to have passed to our toddler – by a special lunch at our local pub.

We wrapped up warm and meandered down the canal to sit and stuff our faces. Oh, and wear silly hats.

Father and child at ChristmasMum and childThe food was delicious and the festive mood was well and truly set. After a tough, tough year, this was exactly what we needed: time together just the three of us. Our family.

Toddler eating icecream

This marks the beginning of Christmas for us and I think it’ll be something we do every year now. The NLM describes the tingles of excitement he’d feel as a child as he ordered his meal on their special evening out, knowing that soon Father Christmas would be visiting. I like that he remembers it in such detail and I like that he wants to recreate that for Frog.

When we came home we watched a cheesy Christmas film (I forget the name) and slumped on the sofa. My toddler fell fast asleep on me and it was beautiful being able to relax into the cuddles without feeling guilty about looming deadlines and unanswered emails.

Sleepy toddler

The NLM claimed he had Norovirus, an annual bout of hyperchondria that often follows a session of pigging out. Luckily, he slept it off and managed to soldier on for the rest of the day.

Sleepy man at Christmas

Christmas Eve will be drinks and nibbles at a neighbours, followed by the obligatory Father Christmas letter writing and leaving of carrots and mince pies. It’s amazing how becoming a parent can bring back those frissons of excitement about the big day. I feel a tumble of jumps in my tummy whenever I picture my toddler waking on Christmas Day to discover her presents have been delivered.

Tomorrow night’s bedtime will consist of stories including The Night Before Christmas and The Nutcracker – the same copies of the books my own mum read to me on Christmas Eve. Then we’ll wake on Christmas Day to stocking opening in bed with steaming hot mugs of tea, followed by gammon and eggs downstairs and the unveiling of the living room tree presents that Father Christmas has left.

Smoked salmon and cream cheese on blinis, Bucks Fizz, champagne, roast turkey with all the trimmings, Christmas pudding, cheese – lots of it – homemade sausage rolls and pork pie will also make an appearance. Along with lots and lots of chocolate.

And love. So much love and laughter – the odd bout of “Norovirus” – and cuddles.

I love Christmas.

And with that, I bid you all a very merry time. As I have mince pies to make and bubbles to drink.

Have a good one.

mince pies and champagne