The 5 rules of an extended family Christmas

Merry ChristmasThe Christmas pendulum has swung back to my family this year and so we’re in a windy but dry (and always beautiful) Cornwall for the week. Scrip and I drove down at the weekend with one of the Aunties (helped by hot chocolates, pastries and plenty of Christmas songs) and we picked up my husband from the train station today.

These are my favourite Christmases – lively, animated (with the odd disagreement thrown in), warm and fun. But I do sometimes find myself forgetting there are unwritten rules of an extended family Christmas, which have emerged over alternate Christmases for the last few years and particularly since having Scrip. I’ve noted them down so I won’t forget them next time:

  1. Remember the new routine – whilst I’ve been off trying to become a grown up, new regulations seem to have been brought in at my family home, and I’m still learning them. It’s always red top milk in tea – woe betide anyone who mixes it up with the green stuff – coats are banned from banisters and never, ever forgot to refill the water filter (cardinal sin).
  2. Limit the amount of washing you generate (and it’s best to hide the full extent of your children’s). It’s been a while (over 30 years) since little people were regular inhabitants here and although you’re very familiar with just how many items can get messy in a 24 hour period, your parents probably aren’t. Even if you’re washing it yourself, be discreet – note: asking how to use the tumble dryer for the fourth time is a dead give away that another load’s gone on.
  3. Adapt to the portion sizes – as a super-hungry 6-month pregnant person I could eat without limits at the moment and my husband has never had a problem tucking away seconds. But conversely, my parents seem to eat less and less. Learn to make the most of any pre-dinner snacks, enjoy a pudding and, if your tummy’s still rumbling, make a mental note of where the Christmas cheese is stored.
  4. Train your children up to get them used to Christmas lunch ahead of the big day – this applies more to my in-laws than my parents, to be fair (my mum and dad have brought up three fussy girls so they are just delighted when anything is eaten). Scrip eats well but she eats particularly well when no one’s monitoring. My MIL, however, takes an active interest in what’s been eaten and what’s not, and is a fan of ‘gentle’ encouragement (which goes down as well as a plate of peas with Scrip…). So we’ve had a few practice roasts with Scrip in the last month or so. She’s been eating gravy (good), sprouts (very good) and turkey (could do a lot better).
  5. Enjoy the rest if you can can – my family are particularly good at keeping Scrip constantly entertained (I could learn a thing or two here). In fact she’s gone out for a long walk with them as I type. It’s hard to switch down a gear, but as I think they’re enjoying it as much as she is, I’m going to try and take a few breaks with my feet up this Christmas: a glass of ginger beer in hand and my mum’s festive Good Housekeeping resting on my bump.

What are your family Christmas rules?

Merry Christmas, thank you so much for reading this year and I hope you all have a happy and peaceful day.

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