Rituals, traditions and sacrifices: Olivia’s edition

Three days, three days – until feasting, festivities and fun all around. So Olivia (kind, lovely, wonderful Olivia – the giver of books and all book-related things) has blessed us with her take on the Mead family’s Christmas rituals, traditions and sacrifices.

An evergreen wreath decorated with berries and pine cones hangs on a teal door

First thing’s first, sacrifices? No. We’re an indulgent, greedy family most of the year and Christmas is when we really peak. You may even call it a tradition really, especially considering that one of our rituals is to celebrate Boxing Day even more excessively than Christmas Day. Yes, dear reader, that means two Christmas dinners and thus two Christmas dinners worth of leftovers . . . I can’t wait.

Aside from the food and the wine, the big tradition for the Mead Family is T.H.E T.R.E.E. and it has to be a big one (e.g. taller than my 6ft 3 dad) to fit all the decorations on it. My mother has been collecting decorations of all shapes, sizes and styles for over 30 years – beautiful glass baubles from Germany, hand painted wooden hearts, tin Father Christmasses, our hand-made monstrosities from primary school – it’s an exhaustive list. She also buys me and my sisters a new one every year and manages to find the most wonderful, weird, wacky, unique ones – it’s a talent. We’ve had mini-Regency shoes from the V&A, acrobatic animals in sparkly circus outfits, elves carrying presents while riding snails and frogs, mini China dolls and this year, dangly 6 inch long mermaids. My absolute favourites are the full cast of Alice in Wonderland, with the Queen of Hearts pointing her commanding ‘Off with her head!’ arm at Alice.

A tiny selection of the hundreds of decorations my mum has collected

A tiny selection of the hundreds of decorations my mum has collected

The whole process of putting up the tree is a ritual in itself, and traditionally it involves me and my mum getting very tense and bossy laying out all the decorations, while my sisters and our dad get told off and sigh a lot while putting up lights and trimming the tree. We then spend literal hours putting the decorations up and, again traditionally, I rearrange everything my twin sister puts up because they’re wrong. (They are). However, all the huffing and sniping is worth it when our girl (she’s always a girl) is up, sparkling and shining and looking like a fat Duchess at a ball bedecked in all her finery. That’s when our Christmas really starts.

This year's Mead family tree, The Duchess

This year’s Mead family tree, The Duchess

After that, it’s time for a personal ritual/tradition as I curl up in a massive pair of men’s flannel pyjamas and re-read  Joan Aiken’s Black Hearts in Battersea for the umpteenth time. Despite the sinister plot and Twite family child abuse, there’s something cosily festive about it . . .

So, Merry Christmas to all of you and I hope you’re all indulging in your favourite Christmas rituals and traditions. The sacrifices can wait until January . . .

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