Over the weekend, we visited my family for our annual pre-Christmas get together. As many of my brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and cousins’ children as possible get together for a meet up at my parents’ house in Lincolnshire. This year might be the last one we make for quite a while, because by next year we’ll hopefully be in Australia.
I used the get together as an excuse to get the kids dressed up in some smart clothes, because they’d only worn them once for a wedding and were already on the verge of growing out of them! This was my lightning quick attempt to catch the three of them looking smart before they dribbled gravy and chocolate ice-cream all over themselves – as it happened, it turned out to be blackcurrant squash instead, but the end result was the same 🙂
I have very fond memories of Christmas family get togethers as a child. They were always on Boxing Day and we would drive to visit my mum’s parents in Sheffield before moving on to visit my dad’s mum at the other side of the city. I didn’t really appreciate it enough at the time. Little things stick in my mind, like playing with the ornaments that lined the shelf next to the stairs at my grandparents’ house, drinking sickly sweet Tizer at my nan’s and being forced to pretend I liked trifle (which I HATED). We always had to eat turkey sandwiches at my grandparents’ house, and then pretend half an hour later when we arrived at my nan’s that we hadn’t just eaten. My nan buttered the bread with slices of butter, as her house was so cold the block of butter in the dish never quite thawed out. It would always start snowing towards the end of the day, and by the time we got home there would already be a thick layer on the ground. Obviously, this can’t have happened every year (and maybe it wasn’t even on our annual Boxing Day trip at all but at another time of the year when we visited) but in my head, our Christmas visits were always on cold, dark nights and involved lots of chocolates, treats and some snowball throwing when we got home.
I’m sad to think my children aren’t going to have a ritual like this to grow up with. Emigrating is such a hard choice – if you go you’re depriving your children of their extended family, and if you stay for that very reason you aren’t following what you believe is the right path for them. We’re so lucky that the world is smaller than it has ever been. Facebook, Twitter, Skype and my blog are all going to help us to stay in touch. But it will never replace a big festive family gathering like this in the depths of winter, with lovely food, lots of laughter and good company.