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A beach walk in PJs, dinner at mum's, a visit to Santa ... that's my kind of Christmas

Festive fun: Kerry, husband Ralph and children get ready for Christmas
Festive fun: Kerry, husband Ralph and children get ready for Christmas

By Kerry McLean

Sore throat, check. Aching ears, check. Nose running like a tap, oh yes. While this may not be the list I'd hope to be checking off at this special time of the year, it would feel almost odd not to be planting a big tick against each of those ailments. In my family a house full of flu bugs is as traditional as the Christmas tree and, for me, tradition is all important.

Every family has their own way of working through the festive season, but with us it begins at my mum's house on the first weekend in December, putting up her 40-year-old Christmas tree and topping it off with an even more elderly angel.

My mum and dad bought her when they first got married which means this is her 47th year and, to be honest, she isn't wearing her age overly well.

Her once beautifully styled blonde curls have more than a passing resemblance to Boris Johnson caught in windy weather.

Her painted on face has smudged somewhat over the years and that, combined with a crumbled and faded gown, gives her the air of someone returning home after a particularly wild all-night party. But still, I couldn't bare to see anyone other than our angel guarding over our family house from the top of the tree.

In my own home I've followed my parents' example and have given the task of decorating the tree to my children, even though they have a habit of hanging the baubles in a tight circle, all at eye height, sometimes three to a branch while the rest of the tree stays like a study in minimalism.

With my toddler, it's because she has no sense of space, with the two eldest, it's because after hanging the first few decorations they get bored and rush through the chore in an attempt to return to their phone screens as quickly as possible.

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Breakfast is served at my house on the big day and the whole, extended family is invited along to eat as many croissants and bacon baps as they can swallow.

Throw enough tomato sauce and proper butter on the table and even my cooking goes down a storm on the 25th.

Then it's off to the beach, still in our pyjamas, for a brisk, bracing walk before the Christmas catering moves on to my mum's house for dinner and the annual struggle between my sister and I to see who gets more of my mum's stuffed bacon rolls.

I don't know what my mum puts in them, some heady combination of homemade stuffing, fruit and spices, but they're the most addictive food stuff I've ever come across.

I'd happily forgo the rest of my Christmas dinner if I could fall, face first into a plate of those rolls.

One thing that had been a big part of our Christmas celebrations over the last decade was a family visit to the zoo to see the animals and a visit to Santa's grotto.

Being creatures of habit, it was a bit of shock when the zoo announced that Santa wouldn't be setting up his temporary North Pole meet and greet this year.

So instead our cluster of cars, packed with parents, children, aunts, uncles, cousins and one very special granny, made their way to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum at Cultra last weekend.

We arrived on one of the wettest days of the year (I'd already bought the tickets and there was no way a bit of bad weather was going to make me waste my money!) but I don't think anything could have dampened our spirits.

We had such a fabulous time, experiencing Christmas as it would have been 100 years ago, making crafts by the fire and munching fresh baked cinnamon bread before going to meet Santa.

We'll definitely be back - a new family tradition has been born.

And talking of traditions, I'd like to take this opportunity to send a time-honoured season's greetings to you all. Here's to a wonderful, peaceful Christmas for you and yours.

PS: Santa told me you're all on his 'Good' list. But if my sister is reading this, he said to leave the bacon rolls alone or it'll be coal under the tree for you...

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