Christmas is often marked by traditions and rituals. Gathering pine cones on winter walks, hanging stockings by the hearth and preparing food on Christmas Eve. For TOAST Travels we asked Karen Louise Faith, mother of four boys and instagrammer @thislittlecorner, to write about her own family rituals...
For our family, as any other, it's the traditions that make all the difference for a memorable Christmas. These moments once begun and repeated, year on year, build the anticipation for another wonderful Christmas.
As a busy mother of four our preparations start with the calendar, pencilling in what have become our yearly rituals such as the city's tree lights switch on, accompanied by the cathedral choir and our trip to the beautiful lantern parade in a nearby town. These events always begin with the coming together of friends and usually end in sharing festive meals and staying up late watching Christmas films.
BRINGING THE OUTSIDE IN
As a family we will always choose to spend our free time outdoors and that is true of this time of year, so naturally the outdoors comes in. This ritual encompasses the act of walking, gathering with friends, creating and making - these are the flickers of magic for me. As the month progresses we add more and more simple garlands and wreaths from our walks to our walls, the boys collecting whatever they find to be interesting , such as pine cones and seed heads.
Karen wears: Elivre White Shirt Dress
When decorating the tree, it is my job to arrange all the white lights mostly because it's a job they do not enjoy and for the all-important even distribution purposes. The boys then carefully hang the various tree ornaments we've collected, which mostly consist of glass and paper garlands. The style of dcor always sways this way because of my own love of the simple and the natural; candles in glass jars half filled with sand and plenty of seasonal greens. The heart though is added to the tree during the rest of the month, as the boys slowly trickle home their creations from school. These are my true favourites.
PREPARING THE FOOD
When it comes to our Christmas dinner we have our seasonal vegetables delivered by a local small holding and one of our good friends is a butcher. Where possible I will buy handmade gifts and I'm sure it will not surprise you that I like brown paper and string the best when it comes to wrapping the presents. But for the boys I always pick something bold and bright because it's what they love.
Come Christmas Eve my eldest two boys Ethan and Ryan will help with some simple food preparations for the next day's feast, whilst Eddie and Joseph will make sure Father Christmas has been taken care of with the help of daddy.
There is usually a flurry of excitement and busyness in the house with visitors popping by for last minute well-wishing and then everything is done. After the excitement of the evening when the children have given in to trying to stay awake, all becomes calm. All must wait for the morning.
I would love to be able to say I have a favourite part of Christmas but there are too many. Yet one of the best happens during those early morning moments before the boys wake. I make myself a quiet cup of tea and creep back to bed, and wait.
Then slowly and suddenly the whispers turn to loud excitement as they all come through the door with their stockings, moments later the bed is full of torn papers and gold chocolate coins and a stray orange or two. We always save the presents under the tree until after Christmas dinner, to our boys' temporary dismay! It's always so hard to wait!
You can follow Karen @thislittlecorner here