back alley christmas 
Well that time of year is nearly upon us!  I love Christmas, I come from a family of Christmas lovers and I really do enjoy this time of year. I know people have traditions that they stick to year in and year out but mine have had to change slightly depending on where I am living and what my job dictates.
My Christmas traditions have definitely changed over the years.  When I lived at home (and in the same country as my family) Christmas was always a real family time, everyone would be at my parents house and the house was always full on Christmas Day. We would always go to Midnight mass on Christmas Eve with my Dad, back to the church of his childhood and a brief visit to my Aunt’s house before heading back over home. If we were lucky we would get to open one present before heading to bed and letting the big man get on with his delivery.  Christmas was always such a special time at home and not only did Santa deliver us presents but we very often got ones labelled from his reindeer’s too (a tradition my mother kept up long after we stopped believing in the big man!)
When I moved away, my first Christmas was spent on the Isle Of Man.  I have to admit I was dreading it, I had never not spent Christmas with my family and I was so worried that it just wouldn’t be the same.  But there ended up being  a group of about 15 of us who couldn’t get home for Christmas and we all went to my best friends house where we even managed to make an attempt at Christmas dinner, it was a lovely way to spend the first Christmas away from my family and it is now one I remember really fondly.
When I met my now husband whilst living away from home, we had separate Christmas’s. He went to his house in Ireland and me to mine, this was always the case right up until we got married 2 years ago.  We always did ‘our own’ christmas on one of the weekends running up to Christmas, paper hats and all and watched ‘It’s a wonderful life’ together. I know some people think that is really odd but it worked for us, both our families mean so much to us and it worked out the way we did it so why change.
Though we did decide that things needed to change. Now we are married the last two Christmas’s have been a little different, for the first time in 10 years we spent Christmas day together, not back in Ireland though but at my wonderful brother and sister in laws house here as with my job I have unfortunately had to work the last two Christmas days.  We have still kept up the tradition of watching ‘It’s a wonderful life’ in the run up to Christmas. I am forever grateful to my husband for staying here with me and for making a new tradition of being together on Christmas Day. Even if I’m working Christmas I still get to see my family, we now have a tradition of a special Christmas weekend where I will come home and we will have Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, last year it was really early in December and much to my amazement both my Mum and sister had put up their tree for me coming home so it felt like Christmas.
This year again will be different for me, for one, I am actually off this one *dances around* and we have decided to go back to Ireland for Christmas and for me a further break in tradition.  I have never gone back to Ireland and not spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at my own parents house but this year we have made a decision that we will be spending Christmas Eve and part of Christmas Day at my in laws before then making the drive to my parents house for the remainder of Christmas Day and Boxing Day where the tradition of all heading to my sisters house will still take place. I know it will feel odd to be back in Ireland and not to be sitting down to Christmas dinner at my own parents house but for us traditions have to keep changing and this year I will just be thankful to have my husband by my side again.
Goodness only knows what will happen next year but as long as we have each other we will have our new tradition!
Claire xx
Image Credit –

darwin Bell via Compfight

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