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I love a good tradition, me. Christmas traditions that is. I don’t think I really have any other kind of tradition…nope can’t think of any others. But I have loads for the Christmas holiday.

  • Before Christmas Day I have to have watched (in no particular order): Muppet Christmas Carol, The Santa Clause, Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life (as of last year – can you believe I hadn’t seen it before that!), Jingle All the Way, Christmas with the Kranks, Scrooged, Elf, Home Alone 1&2, The Holiday and Love Actually. It’s not Christmas if I haven’t watched all of these before the big day.
  • Have our own Christmas Dinner, with all the trimmings, before Christmas day as we always spend it with our families. It’s nice to have our own version together, mostly just the two of us but sometimes we have some friends to join us too.
  • Christmas Day and Boxing Day is always swapped between the parents, one year we’ll be at my parents for Christmas Day and Boxing Day with Dan’s parents, then the next year we’ll swap it around.
  • We always have picky party foods and watch Christmas films on Christmas Eve. We can snack through the night that way on samosas, sausage rolls, cheese sticks, chicken nuggets and usually a lot more beside…
  • Make at least one arty/crafty thing as a Christmas decoration, I’m thinking it’s going to be a wreath for the front door this year. Still deciding whether it’s going to be a fresh or fake one. Fresh – I can throw away in January. Fake – I have to find a place for it to live for the rest of the year, but then I’ll have one I can use next year. Tricky.

I’m sure there’s more that I do at this time of year – every year – that I haven’t even realised would be classed as a tradition, but now I have another to add to this list.

For the past three years running I have gone to the Victorian Christmas Market in Portsmouth with my family on the last weekend of November, which this year has officially felt like it is kicking off the countdown to Christmas.

It was brilliant the first year, they had people in costumes, an outdoor cinema showing Frozen (and we certainly all were, so cold in fact that we couldn’t stick out watching the whole film), a massive market area and as it’s held within the Historic Dockyard, ticket prices include free entry to all the attractions: The Victory, Mary Rose…some other museums and ships that are there (we only really bother with these two). We all had a great time.

Last year, well, that was a different story. As the first year had been so good, the whole gang came with us, which made it a rather stressful occasion, and so many of the things that made the first year great (outdoor cinema, massive market etc) – they just weren’t there this time. Frankly, it was a pitiful display and we all left disheartened and not in a very Christmassy mood.

My parents were going again this year and were taking my sister’s fiance’s parents with them, and since I hadn’t met them yet, I said I’d come along too – but if the market was rubbish again like last year – I wouldn’t be going again next year. This was its last shot to impress me.

With a smaller group again, it was easier to keep everyone in check and together which I think really helped to de-stress the situation. Everyone wanted to just go with the flow (including me, I’d actually had a conversation with Dan in the morning about me not making any decisions and just seeing what happened) but it seemed everyone had that same conversation as no one was making any decisions, so I stepped up and lead for most of the day. Which no one seemed to have a problem with and so the day went swimmingly.

There was less again at the market (they’re going to have to change the name of it really if they don’t improve the actual market aspect of it), there was less food/restaurant options, there was no Victorian Father Christmas in his green suit, there was still no cinema, the fete amusements had gone – all but the big wheel and a slide thing for kids; but they still had people dressed up all Victoriany, there was still free access to all the exhibitions and it had such a lovely and jovial atmosphere this year.

We went for a harbour tour; had a hoot trying to find hats for my parents in the market (my mum went with the one pictured below, and was so pleased when she had someone come up to her asking where her hat was from as it looked so good on her; dad didn’t buy one in the end); we saw Queen Victoria herself (sort of); had a(nother) look at the Mary Rose, but this time it’s all uncovered (growing up near Portsmouth, I have seen the Mary Rose soooooo many times, but this year I saw a part of the back of the ship – I’d never seen that before!); had a look around the market where I bought the fluffiest sheepskin rug and my sister bought me a much-needed buttered rum; and we watched the parade of people who had been wandering around all day in costumes (Ebenezer Scrooge holding up the rear of the pack).

All in all, we had a great time and I’m glad I went.

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So if it is on again next year, I think I would like to go again. Which at three years running, and thinking of going for a fourth – this has to be classed a tradition for me and my family now, surely? Although at £14.50 a ticket, I at least want to see Santa in his green suit next year. Otherwise, year five might be the start of a new tradition elsewhere.

Do you have a Christmas market that means the start of the festive season for you?

Until next time. x

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