I love Christmas. It’s amazing to read those words from me because as my friends and family know, working at Clinton Cards for several years when I was younger pretty much decimated my Christmas spirit. When you’re counting through orders of Christmas cards and gifts in August, just after getting home from holidaying on the beach, it gets pretty old pretty quick and by the time December rolls around you can’t stand the sight of gift wrap. But no more! Now I consider myself more the reincarnation of Mrs Christmas, planning presents well in advance and taking the time to make them special and personal to the individual, decorating the tree and the house, laying the table and helping with the dinner, choosing the Christmas TV schedule and deciding where we will spend Christmas day is all down to me. My mum and I really love Christmas and always make sure we have a sparkly new Christmas jumper to put on, while my dad and I team up to tackle the Christmas trees and hang the chocolates – not all of them make it to the tree.
Being so set on family Christmases makes it hard for me to understand when I come across families who just aren’t as bothered, who don’t really make the effort despite everyone being off work for what is often the first time in months. But I understand that everyone is different and everyone celebrates in their own way. The Ruthnum’s have had some pretty spectacular Christmases over the years, and it was hard to pick out just the one amazing memory for my entry to the Transun competition to win a family trip to Lapland – in the end I had to narrow it down to a few precious memories that will always stay with me for many Christmases to come:
The time I saw Santa Claus
Not a time any youngster will forget in a hurry! I’m not just talking about when you visit him at the local garden centre and he gives you some rubbish present that falls apart on the car ride home. I’m talking about late on Christmas Eve, when I was only young, my parents and I were laying the obligatory carrots and mince pie (with a shot of whiskey) by the fireplace before I headed to bed. Suddenly, hearing a jingle of sleigh bells, I ran to the window and who did I see, but old Saint Nick himself walking down the street! My mum said I better run up to bed quick before he caught me up, otherwise I might not get any presents, and as I lay in bed – I was sure I could hear the sound of hooves on the roof. A child’s imagination is a magical thing, and I will always remember the true magic of Christmas coming to life for me in that moment. It may have just been a drunk guy in a Santa costume, but to me, it was and always will be the real deal.
The last Christmas with both of my grandparents
It was a shock when my nan was diagnosed with cancer, a shock for all of us. It was too late to save her, but without a second’s thought she had every treatment going to prolong her life just enough for one last family Christmas. It wasn’t the easiest Christmas, it was understandably an emotional time for all of us and tensions ran high. It was horrible to see her have to have her roast dinner blended and mashed up so she could manage it, but the fact that she was there, sitting alongside my grandad – no matter how emaciated she looked – meant everything. It is a memory I will always treasure and remember.
Christmas Day spent on the beach in Mauritius
One of my most amazing and tropical Christmas experiences was spent eating home-made curry with my father’s side of the family on the beach, tanning, on Christmas Day. Later that day we went out on rubber rings attached to a speedboat with my cousin and aunt, and we just had so much fun! It was an odd experience to spend Christmas Day in a bikini rather than a festive jumper, but a welcome change and break from the chilly winter in Britain. It was also a great chance to catch up with family we unfortunately see very rarely because of the distance between us all. A great alternative Christmas and everyone at home was rather jealous.
Christmas Day spent in New York City
New York is one of my absolute favourite cities in the world, it is so welcoming and versatile, so majestic, and I never run out of things to do and see. I was so lucky to fly out with my family to New York on Christmas Day itself a few years ago, we had breakfast in the deserted airport and lunch in Times Square! The whole city was just magical with the most elaborate and extravagant decorations lining the streets and the buildings. Walking down 5th Avenue was just astounding as all the buildings were covered in fairy lights, with the windows packed with festive spirit. My favourite part was visiting Rockefeller Centre where a giant Christmas tree overshadowed the stunning ice rink, which was packed with eager skaters. A truly magical place to spend Christmas that I seriously recommend – particularly as everything is still open!
I was having a bit of a rough time of it at work and in life, unsure of what my next move would be, and I luckily ended up with a full two weeks off over Christmas which I hadn’t had since university. I made the most of it and spent loads of time with family and friends, catching up with everyone I had kept missing before. I had an amazing Christmas with my family, greeting the Royal family at Sandringham on Christmas Day, eating mountains of food, going to see two musicals and generally being very merry. With friends, there were nights in, visits to the pub, parties and presents – all making me very grateful for the amazing group of mates I have. Overall – it was a very special Christmas, probably the best I have had in a long time, nothing went wrong and it actually helped me make my next big life decision to go travelling thanks to some special people.
These five Christmases are just some of the great reasons I have to love the festive season once again and I’m so glad that I have so many people around me who love Christmas as much as I do, and making it special. Fingers crossed I win the competition so that I can make Christmas as special for a few select people as they have made it for me!
What is your favourite Christmas memory?