Simpler Christmas

Yesterday I mentioned some Christmassy things and today I’m going to tell you a few things we have done, just for your entertainment. You don’t need to follow in my foosteps!

It was Christmas 2007 when I decided it was truly mad to send out cards which cost trees to make, money to buy, money to post and then would get binned a month later was madness so I wouldn’t buy any. Most people I would have sent cards to I could have called for a chat or visited or seen in the street to give them my good wishes so did I really need the cards at all? That year Mr G bought some cards and sent them to people he thought would be offended if they didn’t get one but then he said we shouldn’t buy a tree. What? No tree?

I grew up putting up a silver and white tinsel tree every Christmas. It was then folded up into a long thin box and kept in the loft til the following year. My mum never wanted to buy a real tree but I always wanted one so when I had my own home I always bought a tree. Before we had a car we would choose the most runty looking tree that no-one else wanted from the Sea Scouts at Donnington Bridge on about Dec 20th and carry it home. When I learned to drive I had an ancient Fiat with a fold back roof and we squeezed the tree in and let half of it poke out of the roof which the boys thought was really funny.

We have an old Christmas tape that we have always played in the car on such journeys and then play indoors too once we are feeling a bit more festive which usually happens around the 23rd or 24th. By staying away from too many shops I can manage to hold on to the truth that Christmas does not actually start in November at all! I can see might be hard if you have to walk through town every day to work but being here in yokelville is a bit easier.

Back to the tree thing: Mr G used the same wasteful arguments I had used against card purchase, against tree purchase and I couldn’t disagree. Why would we cut a tree down just to let it die in the house? So we made a paper tree from newspaper and envelopes that I collected during December. We folded a massive origami tree from the newspaper than papier mache’d it with the envelopes then painted it green and hung it on the wall.

We did the same thing in 2008 and 2009 with the same kind of end product. Then in 2010 I didn’t make a tree and the kids got antsy and I threw caution to the wind and bought a tree (runty again) in a pot so we could plant it therefore not violating any principles (much). I planted it after Christmas and it died. It is still in the garden looking dead so I think we may go back to a paper tree this year.

With the cards gone and the tree gone we also stopped wrapping the presents. The children each have a stocking which holds a comic to read when they wake up, a satsuma and some gold chocolate Euro coins (Lidl don’t do pound coins). Their presents are in white bags tied with red ribbon inside a larger white bag tied with a ribbon which as their initial Sharpied on it. The Sharpie bit was done by Mr G late one Christmas Eve when I had sewn a load of little bags of different sizes and sacks and couldn’t be bothered to embroider their initials on them. And Sharpie just doesn’t wash off you know!

The little bags are mix and match depending on who has what size of present and some new bags needed sewing when Miss Froo grew old enough to want presents. I sew the bags with the Easiest bag gusset in the world which I had been using for a while but used as one of my first posts on this blog way back in 2009.

It is fun trying to remember where I have stored the bags and the stockings the finding a bag to fit each present and tying them up and we don’t have to come downstairs to a sea of wrapping paper on Christmas morning either. We stay in bed and let them open their presents and do what they want all morning then we get up and start making something to eat.

And so to food: we are meat eaters but we don’t buy a turkey. I get a big long piece of beef which I chop about a third off and make into stew for Christmas Eve then we roast the rest for Christmas dinner which is usually at about 6 o’clock. No rushing around to eat before the Queen’s speech in this house, no. The Queen is lucky if we haven’t got back into bed after having put the meat in oven by then!

My food tips/observations are these:

  • Freezing breadcrumbs before Christmas is helpful as you can never spare any bread to make stuffing once the shops have close for the holidays.
  • No-one eats more on the 25th and 26th of this month than than they do on any other two days so there is really no need to go shopping as if the end of the world is nigh. The shops are only shut for 2 days at most so if we can survive on what we have in the house for that long in ‘normal’ weeks so we can in this week too.
  • You can never have too much mincemeat but you can have too many roast potatoes.
  • It is hard to stop anyone eating any Christmassy snack foods before Christmas without the threat of some form of dire punishment
  • It is just another day and another meal so as long as everyone is full at the end of the day it is all ok.

    We have some stars that we hang up under our porch thing. We love making the snowflakes from Marcel’s kids crafts as seen here last year and the stars from here

    It all boils down to not buying stuff thereby avoiding shops and shoppers, being ordinary and remembering that these days are also about midwinter and that we are halfway to the days being longer again which will bring warmth and new growth soon. Stay calm!

  • 5 Comments to “Simpler Christmas”

    1. I’ve enjoyed reading this- its a really thoughtful post. Thank you. But I differ on one fundamental- you can never have too many roast potatoes on my view!!!

    2. Never enough roast potatoes, I second that Scruffybadger. We eat ours for breakfast…and lunch…and snacks…until there are none left. In fact, scrap Christmas dinner, just give me roasties!

      We usually have a much simpler christmas when there are no rellies coming to stay. But when others come, there is an expectation of sorts (especially when you have food-loving family). This year it will be with all the trimmings, and our 13 year old artificial christmas tree which is looking balder each year 🙂

    3. Great post. I like the paper tree. It seems you have potatop lovers reading you blog as I too have to say though that I can never have too many roast potatoes, I love them cold or in a cooked breakfast, in a potatoe omlette …yum, yum. We too don’t have turkey. This year we have opted for beef for evryone else and a nut roast for me. Last year I let the kids choose and so they opted for roast dinner with…fish fingers…! x

      • No one in our house likes cold roast potatoes in any form so perhaps we are all weird. I think the common thing among the potato lovers commenting is that you are all vegetarian so perhaps a bit more imaginative with your potato excess! In our house on the other hand, a roast potato won’t keep til next year but a jar of mincemeat will.

    4. Funny that the potato comment is the most controversial sentence is this rather revolutionary essay. So I will join in with the potato lovers–there can’t be enough. I really love the wrapping bag idea. I can see how it could become quite a puzzle for Santa.

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