Tis the season! The time for eating, drinking, being merry, flapping round the shops trying to buy that last minute Secret Santa present, and taking part in all the traditions! Even if your tradition is to completely avoid the whole Christmas thing and hide in your bed under a cosy blanket until it’s all over, that counts as a tradition in my eyes.
We decided that we couldn’t let the season pass without asking some people to let us in on their festive traditions. We tried our best to keep the traditions Middlesbrough-focused, but go gently on us if they stretch just sliiiiiightly out of the reach of everyone’s favourite town!
Mostly the holidays are a great time to hibernate and spend time with family. But one thing we do try and do every year is get out into the countryside around Middlesbrough for a walk. It makes me feel a lot less guilty about all the Christmas food! [haha, yep we totally get that! Also can we just say, gorgeous photo!]
I’m a proper Boro lass and lived here until I was 18 before going to university in Newcastle. After living all over the place for another 17 years, I finally moved back to the north-east – this time, settling in Yarm. It’s a gorgeous little town at the best of times, centered around a beautiful high street which boasts cute coffee shops (where I write my novels!), chic designer boutiques and yummy restaurants. But it turns into a twinkly wonderland at Christmas (especially when it snows). Since moving here years ago, I bring my kids down when it gets dark to see the tree lights being switched on and we keep warm with hot chocolates. It has a really lovely Christmas vibe about the place in December and it’s such a friendly community. It wouldn’t be Christmas without spending a night on the cobbles and I’ll make sure that never changes!
You want to hear some of our traditions as well? Oh go on then!
There’s three things I do every year, without fail, and I absolutely love them all!
1. One of my friends lives in New York City (I know, right?!) and she comes home for Christmas times with her family, and every year we arrange our annual Christmas catch up. Always in Middlesbrough, always a coffee shop and we basically don’t stop talking from the first bone crushing, helloooo hug until we all have to call it a day and head home! This year I’m going to introduce her to Off the Ground and I can’t wait!
2. On Christmas Eve, we get fizz, we get the Christmas cake and anyone who wants to join in comes round and we all get very, very messy icing it and adding all sorts of bonkers decorations! When this tradition started it was all about making the cake look as nice as possible, but with each year it’s more about what barmy thing can we add this time. Christmas shark anyone…?!
3. Picture the scene: Christmas Day, totally stuffed from all the food and it’s dark outside. While everyone else stays in and falls into a heap on the sofa, we get wrapped up warm and we take the Love Middlesbrough dog Bob, out for an evening stroll past all the pretty liiiiiiights in everyone’s houses. Even if it’s cold or wet, it’s just so cosy walking round when everyone else is tucked up inside. And there can never be enough twinkly lights in my life. Ever.
So, my family isn’t exactly traditional and I’m the youngest (18 now!) so the whole running downstairs for presents thing no longer happens. Christmas always starts on Christmas Eve though, my sister once suggested that we do Christmas Eve pyjamas, so now we do – or in my case lounge wear because who wears pyjamas??? My sister still joins us on Christmas Eve, even though she has her own house, so we end up just lazing about together until it’s too late to stay awake and then we disappear to bed.
One of my favourite things about Christmas is the food. It’s tradition to have lunch with my parents – my mum works her butt off creating the perfect lunch – and then to get slightly tipsy and remain that way all day. We’re not alcoholics, it’s just me… I like vodka lemonade. We then lay on the couch in what is known as ‘too. much. food. pain’ for an unreasonable amount of time before going to my Gran’s for more food. She’ll put a buffet out because – unlike my brother who attends about 5 different houses and 3 different meals – we can’t eat two lots of Christmas dinner. It’s actually quite nice and old fashioned at my Gran’s. The Queen’s speech no longer goes on though which is a bit of a relief.
I have a personal Christmas tradition of disappearing upstairs to watch Doctor Who. My family don’t have any set in stone traditions, we just kinda have the same routine of eat too much, go home, sleep, don’t move for the entirety of Boxing Day – I guess that’s a tradition…?
We know I love a good list, so here’s my Christmas traditions list:
- Everyone has to put a handful of fruit into the Christmas cake mix and make a wish… The only problem is that because I have a whole year for the wish to come true, I never remember what it was or whether it did in the end!
- My brother and I have a tradition of always watching a scary film and eating popcorn on Christmas Eve – I can’t remember how this tradition started (though it was definitely in the days of Blockbuster), but it’s about as un-Christmas-like as you can get!
- We have a little ceramic nativity scene, which is probably as old as me, which goes underneath the Christmas tree, and it’s always my job to set it up. It’s totally adorable, and even if it is looking a bit worn around the edges and some of the animals are missing an ear or a foot, it’s still my fave Christmas decoration ❤️