We asked parents to share their best memories of Christmas and the festive holidays, as children and with their own kids. From one-off spectaculars to Christmas traditions they cherish, here are their moments of Christmas joy. What’s your best memory of Christmas?
“The best Christmas we ever had was when my godparents gave us a massive hamper full of gorgeous things to eat. Unbeknownst to us at the time, my dad had been out of work for ages and my parents were seriously struggling. That hamper from their friends had all our Christmas food in it (turkey and all) and our presents had all been ‘up-cycled’ by my mum from charity shops. We had no idea. My mum and dad were thrilled that they managed to give us a great Christmas and also that we didn’t know what they’d been through until 20-something years later. It made me realise you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy the day – and that I genuinely do have fairy godparents!”
Jumping for joy
“One Christmas I was given a much-wanted pogo stick. It was snowy and frosty outside, but I didn’t care. I boinged all over the back garden until it got dark. My mother was at the kitchen sink and had to put on an impressed face every time I bounced past the window.”
“Being given Action Man Eagle Eyes by my parents. Best present ever.”
“I was Mary in the nativity play when I was six. There I was at the head of the procession carrying baby Jesus when his head fell off. It rolled under the benches where the parents were sitting, so I dived after it and shoved it back on. I haven’t acted since. But it kept my parents entertained for years.”
“When our eldest was a toddler, so really our first Christmas when she could join in the celebrations, she became totally attached to one Christmas decoration on the tree. She toddled everywhere with this feathered robin, even went to sleep stroking it. Gradually as her obsession abated, I managed to put it back in the Christmas box. She’s 18 now and when we get out the decorations, she still gets all nostalgic about her ‘special wobin’.”
Let it snow!
“One year we went to my uncle and aunt’s for Christmas and got unexpectedly snowed in. There were 20 of us in a three-bedroom house – best sleepover ever! I remember making snow angels with my cousins and deep snow covering the beach in Northumberland.”
A date to skate
“The first time we took the kids ice skating was the afternoon school broke up for the holidays, as a way to mark the beginning of fun times. It was a perfect outing to the outdoor rink on Hampstead Heath – the kids loved skating and got really confident, the sun shone and when dusk came, we drank hot chocolates and mulled wine for the grown-ups. Since then, we always go skating the day they break up for Christmas. Over 10 years, our numbers have grown with more families and teenage school friends – last year there were over 20 of us skating at the Tower of London.”
“One of my happiest Christmas times is going to choose the tree and then carrying it back home with the kids all in a line holding bits of the tree singing the seven dwarfs’ song, ‘hi ho, it’s off to work we go’.”
Dough for it
“We used to make cinnamon Christmas biscuits to decorate the tree. I remember rolling out the dough, and cutting out different shapes like stars and angels with Mum’s special Christmas cutters.”
“I’ll never forget waking up to a teddy bigger than me at the end of the bed. Total joy!”
“My mum made me a stocking out of a red pillow case with a felt snowman on one side and a Christmas tree with little presents underneath on the other side. Seeing it hanging up was so exciting. I still have it to this day and it always brings a smile to my face and gets me in the Christmas spirit.
“I also remember pointing out to my mum one year that Father Christmas had the same wrapping paper as us and her response: ‘Well, he must have good taste’.”
A nana’s love
“The most exciting part of Christmas was when my Gran would burst through the door laden with presents up to her eyes. She was a wonderful woman, who loved being surrounded by her family at this time of the year, and I still miss her.”