Abeach­walk­inPJs, din­ner­at­mum’s,a visit­toSanta...that’s mykind­ofChrist­mas

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - CHRISTMAS FIRST WORD - Kerry McLean

Sore throat, check. Aching ears, check. Nose run­ning like a tap, oh yes. While this may not be the list I’d hope to be check­ing off at this spe­cial time of the year, it would feel al­most odd not to be plant­ing a big tick against each of those ail­ments. In my fam­ily a house full of flu bugs is as tra­di­tional as the Christ­mas tree and, for me, tra­di­tion is all im­por­tant.

Ev­ery fam­ily has their own way of work­ing through the fes­tive sea­son, but with us it be­gins at my mum’s house on the first week­end in De­cem­ber, putting up her 40-year-old Christ­mas tree and top­ping it off with an even more el­derly an­gel.

My mum and dad bought her when they first got mar­ried which means this is her 47th year and, to be hon­est, she isn’t wear­ing her age overly well.

Her once beau­ti­fully styled blonde curls have more than a pass­ing re­sem­blance to Boris John­son caught in windy weather.

Her painted on face has smudged some­what over the years and that, com­bined with a crum­bled and faded gown, gives her the air of some­one re­turn­ing home af­ter a par­tic­u­larly wild all­night party. But still, I couldn’t bare to see any­one other than our an­gel guard­ing over our fam­ily house from the top of the tree.

In my own home I’ve fol­lowed my par­ents’ ex­am­ple and have given the task of dec­o­rat­ing the tree to my chil­dren, even though they have a habit of hang­ing the baubles in a tight cir­cle, all at eye height, some­times three to a branch while the rest of the tree stays like a study in min­i­mal­ism. With my tod­dler, it’s be­cause she has no sense of space, with the two el­dest, it’s be­cause af­ter hang­ing the first few dec­o­ra­tions they get bored and rush through the chore in an at­tempt to re­turn to their phone screens as quickly as pos­si­ble. Break­fast is served at my house on the big day and the whole, ex­tended fam­ily is in­vited along to eat as many crois­sants and ba­con baps as they can swal­low. Throw enough tomato sauce and proper but­ter on the ta­ble and even my cook­ing goes down a storm on the 25th. Then it’s off to the beach, still in our py­ja­mas, for a brisk, brac­ing walk be­fore the Christ­mas cater­ing moves on to my mum’s house for din­ner and the an­nual strug­gle be­tween my sis­ter and I to see who gets more of my mum’s stuffed ba­con rolls.

I don’t know what my mum puts in them, some heady com­bi­na­tion of home­made stuff­ing, fruit and spices, but they’re the most ad­dic­tive food stuff I’ve ever come across.

I’d hap­pily forgo the rest of my Christ­mas din­ner if I could fall, face first into a plate of those rolls.

One thing that had been a big part of our Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tions over the last decade was a fam­ily visit to the zoo to see the an­i­mals and a visit to Santa’s grotto.

Be­ing crea­tures of habit, it was a bit of shock when the zoo an­nounced that Santa wouldn’t be set­ting up his tem­po­rary North Pole meet and greet this year.

So in­stead our clus­ter of cars, packed with par­ents, chil­dren, aunts, un­cles, cousins and one very spe­cial granny, made their way to the Ul­ster Folk and Trans­port Mu­seum at Cul­tra last week­end.

We ar­rived on one of the wettest days of the year (I’d al­ready bought the tick­ets and there was no way a bit of bad weather was go­ing to make me waste my money!) but I don’t think any­thing could have damp­ened our spir­its.

We had such a fab­u­lous time, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing Christ­mas as it would have been 100 years ago, mak­ing crafts by the fire and munch­ing fresh baked cin­na­mon bread be­fore go­ing to meet Santa.

We’ll def­i­nitely be back — a new fam­ily tra­di­tion has been born.

And talk­ing of tra­di­tions, I’d like to take this op­por­tu­nity to send a time-hon­oured sea­son’s greet­ings to you all. Here’s to a won­der­ful, peace­ful Christ­mas for you and yours.

Santa told me you’re all on his ‘Good’ list. But if my sis­ter is read­ing this, he said to leave the ba­con rolls alone or it’ll be coal un­der the tree for you...

Santa told me that you’re all on his ‘Good’ list

FES­TIVE FUN: Kerry, hus­band Ralph and chil­dren get ready for Christ­mas

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