To celebrate the festive season this year, we wanted to sit down with our team and share some of our fondest memories of Christmas time. So grab yourself a mulled wine, cosy up by the fire and take an amble down memory lane with us...
What is your favourite Christmas memory?
Leona: I don't think I have just 1 particular memory, but my favourite part of Christmas has always been helping my mum get the table laid and the food ready. We've always done a different theme for the table settings each year and she would let me make little name cards and decorations to my hearts content, which when I was younger included a lot of glitter! My mum is an incredible cook and I've always loved being in the kitchen with her and learning her recipes. I've never managed to make a roast quite as good as hers though.
Abigail: My favourite Christmas memory is waking up way too early with my siblings, with a Christmas stocking at the end of the beds, and trying our hardest to be patient, guessing what our presents could be.
Beatrice: Ohhhh So So many! I couldn’t choose one - sorry! It's basically a meshed memory of the occasions that our family has been able to come together - and Christmas has usually been the one time we can pretty much guarantee we’ll see each other. We’re quite nomadic in our habits so it might be that we all get together somewhere far flung or at home either in London or in Harare if we weren’t in the US.
Amy with friends and family at a pre-Christmas Day get together for carol singing in Northern Ireland
Amy: I remember the year my parents got me my first bicycle as being particularly special. It must also be one of my earliest memories of Christmas. They kept it hidden until the very last minute and I thought Santa had forgotten it, it was a blue Raleigh and it marked the start of my life long love affair with cycling. Another cycling related Christmas memory was one spent in London. I met up with friends and cycled all around central London with Hiro in the front basket. The streets were so quiet with just a few people out walking their dogs wrapped in tinsel, it felt very special to be part of this secret locals London. My other favourite memory has to be the first time I spent Christmas in Northern Ireland with my now husband, Freddy. I remember him apologising that there were only going to be 34 people at Christmas lunch that year (I think the most people I had spent Christmas with up to that point was 8!). We’d driven for 11 hours from London to catch the ferry from Scotland and get home in time for carols. I just remember stepping into the Reade's lovely warm home after that long journey, having a glass of mulled wine thrust into my hand and being greeted by about 30 family members. We then proceeded to sing our hearts out around the organ for the next couple of hours. I didn’t think I would have the energy but the Christmas spirit completely took over! It was magical.
Wolf with big bro Conor and friends Coco and Zawadi
Do you have any old or new traditions for Christmas?
Leona: We never really had many traditions around Christmas growing up! We sometimes put out treats for Santa when we were children, and we always had the same ...interesting... decorations my mum kept from the 80s! She used to buy me and my sister a new Christmas tree decoration each year and write the year on the back, she'd usually pick something we were really into that year so there's some very kitsch baubles on our tree (including a panda, a ballerina, horses, a dinosaur.) I think our biggest 'tradition' was just always spending it with my Aunty, Uncle and 2 cousins as we've always been really close.
Abigail: Every year on boxing day we go over to our cousins and play lots of games, eat too much food, and put on our yearly play/pantomime! Its always pretty bizarre and everyone dresses up.
Beatrice: My family aren’t too traditional so it has really been just about getting together, all being involved in the meal one way or another and basically having a good laugh. Sometimes we have people dropping in (obviously not for 2020!) or we’ll head to other friends places if there’s time. I suppose the Christmas tree has been a regular - whether its been a washi tape one on a massive window or the more traditional pine tree. My husband and I started a tradition when we had our first Christmas together of choosing or making a bauble for the tree (which is such a luxury!) each year - and that’s been fun as each one reminds us of where we were or what we got up to that year. It's quite cheesy but I think that’s what Christmas is all about - extra cheese!
Amy: As a kid we’d always roast chestnuts on our open fire through December! Dad is a tree surgeon so he’d bring bags of them home. I crave them every year and the smell just takes me right back. Since I married into an enormous Irish family there have been lots of new traditions that I’ve really enjoyed embracing involving carols, multiple family get-togethers and a big Boxing Day walk followed by Irish coffees down the pub.
Leona and her sister, Lucy, decorating the Christmas tree
How will Christmas be different for you this year because of Covid?
Leona: I won't be spending Christmas with my family this year! Instead, me and my partner are having more of a low-key celebration and just spending some quality time together. I'm sure there will be multiple video calls with all my extended family at home though! We all love this time of year (and any other excuse to all get together really!) but knowing that we're trying to be as safe as we can makes putting the celebrations on hold a little bit easier.
Abigail: This year our panto will be online, but I'm sure it will be just as loud and crazy!
Beatrice: I’d say much more ‘focussed’! We’re really sad that we won’t be able to go and see more of our family but, to be honest, thinking about the virus and how lots of families (all over the world) will have been impacted it's a small price to pay.
Bea and her husband Philip one Christmas in Brooklyn, New York
Amy: We’ll be spending it at home in Margate this year so it will certainly be quieter than the Christmases I’ve become accustomed to! However, I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with my side of our family and taking Hiro for a long beach walk on Christmas Day. We’ll still have carols round my piano, roast chestnuts and hang up our stockings by the fire and it will be nice to fully relax at home after the year we have all had.