Wednesday 19 December 2018

The Christmas holidays, then and now

I've been very much looking forward to the Christmas holidays. I love staying at home in the warm, changing to a more relaxed routine and chilling out. At the end of our first full day with nothing scheduled, I found myself reflecting on how things are different today than when I was at home from school over Christmas.

Christmas crafting - I've always loved crafting at Christmas, and I've blogged about my favourite Christmas childhood crafts before. I remember making paper chains, stained glass window decorations from card and cellophane, and gluing cotton wool around a toilet roll tube to make a snowman. Now there is unlimited inspiration on Pinterest, or you can buy craft kits with everything that you need.

Clothes - I don't remember dressing up for Christmas, apart from maybe wearing a party dress. I first remember wearing a Santa hat when I was a teenager. Now there's such a range of Christmas themed clothing, not just jumpers but leggings, dresses, t-shirts, matching pyjamas, onesies...!

Mum and daughter in matching Christmas jumpers

The Christmas tree - When I was little we put our tree up after my sister's birthday on the 10th of December, and it didn't seem at all late. Everyone seems to have their tree up by the beginning of December now, and not just the one tree either!

Computer games - We were lucky enough to have computer games to play from when I was quite young, as my Dad used to bring home computers from his school for us to play on. I remember spending hours playing games on the BBC computer, and in particular was pretty good at Chuckie Egg. There was only the one though, and I remember one year in particular when we got a new game - Theme Park - and we had to come up with a timetable to play it as we were all addicted to it. My children have been playing a new game together this week called Zoo Tycoon and I must admit that I can't get over quite how realistic the graphics and game play are. They've been giving me tours of their zoo and it's just like walking around a real zoo! There's no fighting, as there are plenty of game playing devices to go around.

Television - a big part of my childhood Christmas was the films and television we watched that was repeated every year. There was The Snowman of course, Santa Claus: The Movie, and the Blue Peter Christmas special. Now the children can just pull up pretty much any film or show that they want from Netflix or Amazon, but they prefer watching distinctly non-seasonal videos on YouTube anyway.

Not sleeping - I never really slept at all the night before Christmas. I remember waking up every hour or so and being far too excited to get back to sleep, probably finally getting up for the day at around 5am. Our children were terrible sleepers when they were younger, but Christmas Eve has never been any worse than any other night for us, and they generally appear in our room on Christmas morning at the usual time. Probably the fact that they don't have to share a room helps with this!

Chocolates - we used to have a box of Quality Street or Roses that was opened for the first time on Christmas Eve and lasted the whole family for days. Now we start buying (and finishing) boxes well before Christmas and they seem to be gone so quickly, they don't feel like a treat anymore.

Presents - I can't complain at all, I received lots of presents for Christmas when I was little. But there seemed to be a lot more emphasis on choosing one special toy, usually the one that all my friends would get. I don't remember being too specific with what I asked for, so I'd ask for a My Little Pony but any of them would have been happily received. Now there is so much to choose from, and I think a greater expectation to buy more than one large present. We also micro manage our children's gift lists and give out exact ideas for relatives, which works very well for us (and I appreciate it when other people do the same) but maybe it does take away the element of surprise a little bit.

Documenting the memories - I was looking for a Christmas photo from when I was little to go with this post and realised that I have hardly any. Now we take photos and videos as the children open each gift, with the intention of sending it to the giver, and we'll share photos throughout the day on Facebook or WhatsApp so that relatives can see what we are up to. I love seeing photos from everyone else too.

I think it's natural to be nostalgic for Christmas past, as things were so much simpler when you were a child and everything was organised for you, and you can remember friends and family that are no longer with us. I hope that I'm creating lots of happy memories for my own children!

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