Christmas Traditions: What Are Yours?
For those who celebrate, Christmas Day seems pretty much the same. That is, until you reveal some quirk that is totally unique to your family and friends. After sharing stories, team RIFE realised that we all have our own traditions, so here they are for your amusement.
He passes the phone to each one of us while we make faces and retort “who?!” when he offers a generic, “It’s uncle from Nigeria” – one of literally hundreds.
The day isn’t allowed to start until we pray and my mum lights a candle to remind of those alone or struggling at Christmas. Once that’s done, food is the focus. It’s the only thing second to Jesus. After presents, – a process that is filmed and forgotten about every year – breakfast is consumed and is immediately followed by the cooking of the roast (that ends up being lunch) so that we can squeeze Nigerian food into the evening. Contrary to most families, my mum lets us cook because “we’re old enough to do it ourselves,” and because she probably deserves it after 25 years of raising children. Food is followed a bunch of non-festive films because we’re film snobs and the ones on TV don’t cut it. Sadly, no one will be able to hear them because my dad will be shouting down the bad phone line to relatives abroad. He passes the phone to each one of us while we make faces and retort, “Who?!” when he offers a generic, “It’s uncle from Nigeria” – one of literally hundreds.
Christmas is one big game to all of us. Even though my sister and I are 18 and 19, we always have presents from santa – even my mum does too. Presents are always opened in the same way: shut your eyes and choose a present. The person who’s present it is opens it before choosing another with their eyes shut. We get tactical sometimes and try to remember where we’ve hidden particular presents. We usually end the day with a present from the tree that is supposed to be our last present. It’s a tradition that we’ve had from when my grandparents were children and it’s meant to be a little thing hidden on the tree.
I join my parents for breakfast and together we survey the pile of presents that has appeared overnight, that seems to get smaller every year. It is expected that my Dad will have consumed at least one chocolate orange by this point. After opening half of the presents we go for a family march around the local countryside, wishing everyone we meet a very merry Christmas and muttering amongst ourselves about the grumpy people who don’t reply. Following this my mum begins preparing Christmas dinner and spends approximately three hours getting angry at how “small our oven is compared to the old one and how on earth am I meant to fit everything in!?” but always manages it. It is tradition for my dad and I to avoid the kitchen at this point to ensure we don’t impede her work, and also to play with the remote-controlled toy that I will have inevitably given him. After dinner, we make every effort possible to avoid watching the Queen’s speech and I will turn to Twitter to alleviate the pain of Mrs Brown’s Boys. We will all remark something along the lines of: “All this fuss and stress, and just for one day!” and then go to bed.
My mum used to make Tandoori Roast Christmas Chicken, once a year, only once, and we would look forward to that meal, salivating.
Growing up, Christmas couldn’t start until my dad’s youngest brother had gone home to shower and do his hair and return. Because, apparently, even though he was happy to stay over at ours every year, our bathing facilities were never adequate enough for him. Being [semi-practising] Hindus, we didn’t do the whole present thing until my English girlfriend-now-wife starting coming every other year. Now there’s a present fervour and the Shuklas are totally into the whole consumer Christmas thing. Sorry baby Jesus. My mum used to make Tandoori Roast Christmas Chicken, once a year, only once, and we would look forward to that meal, salivating. The spices would fill the house for the week before the chicken hit the oven. And every year, that constant, whether it’d been a good year or a bad year, united us as a family again. She’s not around anymore and my sister and I practise every year, from the recipe she wrote down for us before she died. It’s never quite right. So much of our memory is tied up in food and smell and taste. We’re getting closer. Every year we’re getting closer.
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