So…what are you doing for Christmas?

So…what are you doing for Christmas?

A photo of a gingerbread house
Gingerbread House

That’s the question that everyone is asking each other, are you at home, going to see the family, spend it with friends….? There’s an assumption on the 25th December that we’re all going to be sitting down at a table laden with turkey, pulling crackers, and having the sort of day you see advertised by certain food shops (you know the ones).

But of course not everyone will be doing this, for one thing, we’re not all Christians, but we all tend to have a tradition for the 25th December.

I’m Jewish, and being brought up in a country where you cannot hide from the excitement of Christmas, it’s hard for parents to stop their children for wanting to be a part. As a child I remember that Christmas was just everywhere, the shops, the radio, the TV, at your friends’ houses, at school, the bus! And I wanted to be a part of it. I yearned for tinsel, I so wanted a tree, and I was desperate for presents!!

So my parents gave us Chanumas. For the uninitiated (which is pretty much everyone outside of the Lawrence family), Chanumas was a hybrid of Christmas and Chanukah, which tend to coincide – more or less.

Chanumas meant that we got the best of both worlds, we still got to light the Chanukah lights, but we also did Christmas, but just not quite like the adverts.

We didn’t have turkey, we had capon (a rather large chicken) with all the trimmings (apart from bacon wrapped chipolatas of course!). We got presents, but not wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper. We had Santa Claus, but for some reason he delivered presents under the bed, not to a tree. We had Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, watched the Queens speech, ate inordinate amounts of Quality Street, but had no tree or decorations. It was Chanumas after all.

Nowadays, I’m afraid Chanumas has become far less of the Chan, and a whole load more Mas. In the past few weeks I’ve baked and marzipanned my cake, made quite a few litres of blackberry vodka, spent hours choosing the perfect tree (to the slight annoyance of the guy at the garden centre, I ended up buying the first one I looked at, sorry), been spraying twigs and pined cones gold, I’ve got chocolates stashed in pretty much every cupboard, and I’ve even made my gravy in advance (thank you Mr Oliver!). I am so very, very excited to be seeing and celebrating with my family. We’ve made our own traditions, my favourite of which is baking loads of gingerbread to decorate with my nieces. The aim always seems to be to get the most amount of icing on each biscuit, and though they may not exactly win any design awards, we’re proud of them.

I asked my 14 year old niece if she still wanted to decorate the gingerbread, and try to drag me out of bed at 6 to open presents. Sadly, she will still be waking me up at 6, but gladly she was most offended at the thought of not decorating gingerbread. I’m so excited!

These are our traditions, and there are many people who have their own traditions for Christmas day. Most of us have the day off work, so it tends to be a time when families do gather together, whether to eat a roast dinner (or their own version thereof), watch films, or simply spend time together. Some ignore it totally, many volunteer for charities, some go away,

Soooo, what are you doing for Christmas?

by Michelle Lawrence

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