It’s the evening of December 27th and my daughter and I are holed up in the luxurious Rosewood hotel in London tucking into a club sandwich (her) and a lobster macaroni cheese (me) on room service.
It’s part of a new tradition we’ve established to spend 24 hours together in London just after Christmas. Kate’s not a great one for big family parties so this is the way we celebrate together starting with lunch (this year bento boxes at the excellent Sosharu to which we walked through the deserted streets) a spot of shopping (not high-end, a makeup raid on nearby Superdrug) and the rest of the day in the room, chatting and watching old TV series.
I chose the Rosewood because it’s always beautifully decked out with twinkly lights and Christmas trees (and they were nice enough to give me a media discount otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to afford it). Last year we went to the Hoxton in Shoreditch which is always fun but not quite central enough and the year before, the newly opened Beaumont just off Oxford Street which is sadly much spendier than it was then. The idea is to be able to walk to the shops - and hit the sales (the main point of going after rather than before Christmas). If you look online early enough there are always deals on sites such as booking.com. The period between the 27th and the 30th is a relatively fallow one for London and other city centre hotels)
I like the idea of new Christmas rituals. You can never totally recapture those of the past. Circumstances - good or bad - force change upon you. The break-up of relationships, the arrival of children, the acceptance, years on, that they may sometimes want to spend Christmas elsewhere ...
When I met my husband we used to spend family Christmases in France with all the new traditions that involved, mostly food-related. Capon rather than turkey as the centrepiece of the Christmas lunch, boudin blanc rather than chipolatas and bûche de Noel in place of Christmas pudding though we did use to take over some mincemeat to make mince pies.
Since he died just over a year ago I’ve gone to my son and Spanish daughter-in-law’s who have incorporated some Spanish traditions - always a big leg of jamon (last year’s was actually from Lidl rather than Spain!), and addictive turron (nougat) sitting there temptingly whenever you walk by. (We still had the time-honoured bubble and squeak on Boxing Day though.)
Just like everything else in life Christmas changes. I think the answer, hard though it sometimes is, is to embrace that and regard it as an opportunity rather than a loss. Spending the day with just one of your children rather than frantically trying to make sure everyone gets on is a good plan for a start.
A friend told me yesterday that she’d taken a friend’s 14 year old horse-mad daughter to the Boxing Day meet for the first time, how magical that had been for both of them and that they would do it again next year*.
So what are the new Christmas traditions you’ve established over the last few years and which ones couldn’t you let go?
*yes controversial I know but before you start piling in this piece is about establishing new meaningful traditions not about foxhunting!