ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

An English family Christmas

Updated on December 16, 2010

Christmas - for family!

Christmas Day for me is a family time, it isn't for meeting friends, shopping, or watching telly. All those things can and do happen on other days, but Christmas is special.We do a large traditional family Christmas in rural Kent, in the south-east of England.

Deck the halls with boughs of holly
Deck the halls with boughs of holly


I will spend Christmas this year, as for the last few years, with a crowd of family.

The dramatis personae are my parents, my sisters, my brother, my maternal uncle and his wife, my paternal uncle, my other half, our son (who is 4) and my brother in law. So 12 of us, all found.

My sister and my son
My sister and my son


We all pile down to my parents' house in Kent, and arrived between the 22nd and 24th December, apart from my sisters, who live there anyway. My parents' house was built in the early 1320s, and is a hall house - originally most of the house was just one big room, open to the roof.

During the 1550s, walls and floors were added, as privacy became popular, and in the 1700s, the house was covered in brick on the outside to look nice and modern. The original wooden structure of the house is the original 1320s frame.

Christmas is, I think, perceived generally in the UK as a more rural than urban celebration. Central London, where we live, is deserted between Christmas and New Year, for example.

Family only

Few people go anywhere in the UK at Christmas time. I've never been in a car on Christmas Day, for example, and never (apart from church services) spent time with a non-family member.

The parish my parents' house is in shares a vicar with a neighbouring parish, so one year we have Midnight Mass, and the next year, 10pm Mass. I like this service, and attend it instead of on Christmas Day itself.

Thinking about my own family and my friends' extended families, I think it's rare to travel on Christmas Day.

Most people will wake up and go to bed in the same place, so people away from home will be away at least two nights.

There are no trains, buses, or tube trains on Christmas Day, so travelling's pretty tricky anyway. And most other places, such as shops, are firmly shut.

Larger shops are forbidden by law to open anyway.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is the start of celebrations. During the morning, various people cut holly and ivy from the land around the house, to decorate pictures and walls in the house. My mother tends to string Christmas cards together on red ribbon, and hang them in the living room, which adds to the Christmas decorations.

We all help decorate the Christmas tree, which has mostly already been done, but final touches are essential.

My parents' house has a very large kitchen, and we tend to gather around the table before the start of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. This is an amazingly beautiful service broadcast each Christmas Eve from King's College Chapel, in Cambridge. It interposes Bible readings and carols to tell the Christmas Story.

The BBC has broadcast it by radio every year since the 1920s, and it really starts Christmas. THe first part is always the wonderful carol "Once in Royal David's City", sung by an unaccompanied boy tenor, and is magical.

The first four lessons are from the Old Testament, predicting the coming of the Messiah, and the last five from the New Testament, telling the Christmas Story. As we listen, vast mounds of potatoes, and other veg, are peeled and chopped.

Christmas Day breakfast
Christmas Day breakfast
The aftermath of dinner
The aftermath of dinner

As Christmas Eve is the end of Advent, we always avoid meat and have fish pie for dinner. It's supposed to represent fasting, but as my mother is a wonderful cook, the meal fails to represent any sacrifice at all.

After dinner, there is an air of excitement, and much huddling in corners with paper and tape to wrap the last few presents.

Most people push off to Midnight (or 10pm) Mass, if they didn't go in the morning.

There's something wonderful about coming home in the dark and seeing the Christmas lights twinkling in the windows.

Christmas Day


Christmas Day starts with shoving the turkey in the oven, and having a light breakfast. About 11am, we gather round the Christmas tree in the living room, and exchange presents, and quaff champagne. We have Christmas stockings still, even as adults, and it's still wonderful getting to the orange and nuts at the bottom. 

After this, it's all hands to preparing dinner. We tend to start eating at about 3pm, and feast.

This year we had organic turkey, with sausage stuffing one end and apricot and nut the other, roast spuds (choice of goose fat or veggie), roast parsnips, leek sauce, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, sausages wrapped in bacon, carrots, sweetcorn, spouts, peas, turnips in butter with herbs, sludge (a puree of swede and carrot), and roasted pumpkin. All the vet apart from the sweetcorn was grown by my parents.

For pudding, we have a traditional dried fruit Christmas pudding, made with vegetarian suet and brandy. This is accompanied by brandy and rum butter.

Everything, including the cranberry sauce and pudding, is home-made.

After dinner, we all tend to collapse for a bit, and read our new books, try on new jumpers, or play with new toys, before the washing up starts. Everyone joins in, apart from my mother who was the chef and gets a well-earned break!

We don't really eat again, but tend to play games in the evening - bridge, chess, rummy, or scrabble.

Boxing Day

The day after Christmas is generally spent mostly outdoors.

My sisters usually go to a Boxing Day Meet (fox hunting) for some of the day, and the rest of us don thick coats and go for a long walk over the fields with the dogs.

Boxing Day is a bank holiday, public transport is very limited, and a lot of things are shut.

Some shops start their post-Christmas sales on Boxing Day, but I've never been, and never will.

Between Christmas and New Year

A lot of people take off the time between the two holidays, and loads of businesses, offices, and other workplaces are shut for the duration.

My uncles and in-laws push off home on the 27th December, to be replaced by my father's best friend from school and his wife, who stay until New Year.

The days tend to be spent walking, riding, playing games, chatting, and just spending time with family.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)