Christmas Eve – do we have any traditions at all?

Going back to when the kids were younger, we had a traditional Christmas Eve. We would go on the steam train to see Father Christmas with my parents and sister and brother-in-law, just after lunch. In the evening, either we or my parents would lay on Christmas Eve tea for everyone (whichever of us wasn’t doing Christmas dinner). While tea was being prepared, whoever wasn’t needed for food preparation would go to the church for the crib service.

But then things changed. The kids got too old for the Santa train and, although deep down they would have probably liked to go on it with their cousins, it was rather expensive when the magic was no longer there. Plus, we were forking out for a huge number of panto tickets. Panto was the other thing that happened. Theoretically, my daughter should have had a 50/50 chance of performing on Christmas Eve, but for the three years she did panto, she always performed on Christmas Eve.

Suddenly, we had no traditions at all.

This year, I woke up on Christmas Eve thinking of nothing but getting the food shopping done, because it was our turn to host Christmas Eve tea. I didn’t even consider enjoying the day and doing things as a family. But then I read Actually Mummy‘s post about their Christmas Eve traditions and it sounded so lovely. Why didn’t we have traditions like that? Then my friend Tracey from Williams World told me their tradition is always to go out for a meal on Christmas Eve. And my friend Nikki from Stressy Mummy said it’s tradition in their house to go out for breakfast and then the cinema on Christmas Eve.

I wanted some Christmas Eve traditions!

In the end, we actually went out for lunch on Christmas Eve and it was lovely. Normally if we go out for lunch, it’s to somewhere like Pret, but we had a proper sit down meal at Bella Italia. We were lucky to get in – the place was full of big family groups enjoying their own Christmas Eve traditions. I hope going out for lunch might become a tradition in future.

We went for a family walk in the afternoon, but I wouldn’t call that a tradition, as we always go for walks together.

My daughter said the word ‘tradition’ a few times, about something tenuous. And my young son shouted at her: ‘Can we just stop saying tradition? It’s not a tradition! Why does everything have to be a tradition?’.

Arguments are a tradition in every family, right?

We had our traditional Christmas tea, and my niece and nephew went bonkers, as is tradition. My nephew spent approximately an hour beating my two boys up with cushions and, surprisingly, nobody got hurt. Although, my husband banned my eldest from hitting his brother round the head with a cushion, in the light of his concussion.

One Christmas Eve tradition does remain from childhood – the kids always have to sit on their sacks in their pyjamas for a photo before they go to bed. The boys were surprisingly co-operative this year about putting their pyjamas on at 8.30pm (my eldest doesn’t even really wear pyjamas, but we didn’t want a photo of him in his pants.)

Do you have many Christmas or Christmas Eve traditions? And do they change over time?

Christmas Eve, Sons, Daughter, Christmas Eve - do we have any traditions at all?


Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. We always have a big family Christmas eve dinner in a local pub. All 15 of us. Apart from that it’s food prep if we’re hosting, playing games, watching tv. It’s a working day on the farm, so just N and myself.

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    • A big family dinner sounds lovely. We don’t play games and there’s not much on TV we can agree on – I guess that’s the joy of having teenagers!

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  2. We don’t really have any Xmas traditions other than it is at my mums every year, which I love! I do love your pumba tradition and your Xmas park run tradition and how you write so many cards to people and hang them up like your mum 🙂

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    • You’re very lucky that it’s at your mum’s every year! We used to alternate Christmas Day, but my mum officially did her last one last year. I was predicting we would be doing it forever after that, but my brother stepped up this year and managed to do Christmas dinner about 100 times better than the rest of us! I love the parkrun tradition too – it gets the day off to a really good start.

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  3. Haha, the bit about forcing your eldest to wear PJs so you didn’t have to take a photo of him in his pants made me laugh! I think traditions are overrated. Christmas is all about enjoying each other’s company, whether you do the same thing every year or not. It sounds like you had a lovely Christmas eve, I hope the rest of the festive period has been equally fun.

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    • I like that you think traditions are overrated! I suppose I was just cross with myself that I hadn’t planned anything nice to do – tradition or not – and I was just seeing Christmas Eve as another day to do jobs and get organised. I need to remember in future that it’s a special family day and not just a day for cleaning etc! x

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  4. This made me smile and nod along in recognition. I think it’s important to still have traditions but allowing them to change and evolve is equally important. Two out of three of my kids no longer wear pyjamas either! As you say, that wouldn’t make an ideal family photograph lol!

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    • The no pyjamas photo would definitely be one just to keep to yourselves! It’s definitely important to let the traditions change over the years – I don’t think my kids would like to go on the Santa train any more (although they still say they would like to!).

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  5. I think the traditions do change as the kids get older as family life changes along with it. I love your tradition of going to London on Boxing Day, I would love to do something like that but we always go to Wales to see the in-laws.

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    • Traditions definitely change as the kids get older and I think we lost sight of them for a few years, when Christmas was totally focused on panto. Going to London is a great way to spend Boxing Day!

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