In the hectic run-up to Christmas, clutching our to-do lists and stressing, it’s all too easy to forget that this time of year is when families come together and celebrate (and sod it, if the turkey’s dry again and your mother-in-law’s given you another pair of oven gloves).
We asked Huffpost parents to share their favourite memories of Christmas with their families when they were younger; the inspiration for making more magical memories with their own children.
“My mum always used to leave me a set of brand new pyjamas on the bed on Christmas Eve. She said they were ‘delivered by the elves so I’d look smart for Santa’. I loved the idea of the elves sneaking in to make sure I was ready for the big man. Now I do it with my son, although as he’s just coming up to three years old this is probably the first year he’ll really understand.” Melissa
Making mince pies
“Every year my mum and I would make homemade mince pies and they’d always pop open and have this slightly burnt taste where we overfilled them. Since I’ve had my own children, I’ve always made them with them too, overfilling the pies so they catch a bit and they always remind me of my mum. She loved Christmas and always made it so special for me. I really miss her but I’m so glad I have something I can share with my girls from her. Nothing else quite tastes like Christmas.” Danielle
Spending time together as a family
“My partner and I had broken up but always celebrated Christmas together with our young son, who was 10 months old when we split up. We spent half the day together, then my son and I went over to my parents’ house. One year when my son was four, we’d had such a lovely time together that morning I think we both realised we wanted to be together and be a proper family again - and I really didn’t want to leave to go over to my parents’ house.
“It was the beginning of us getting back together again. That was almost a decade ago and now we are married and have a daughter too. Christmas has always felt really special for us.” Catherine
Remembering loved ones
“My two sisters and I always had brand new nighties for Christmas Eve. Our granny, who was widowed in her 40s, would also arrive then to stay a few days and the first thing we did was a pre-bedtime ‘fashion’ show for her. She’s long gone and so is my mum, but just remembering this makes me fill up. I’ll be doing it for my girls this year for the first time.” Lorraine
Getting together with friends
“Every year a few days before Christmas, our family and a few others gather at our friends’ house for a mini-Christmas service, with short readings interspersed with a couple of verses of the famous bits of the Christmas story from the Bible. Kids and adults accompany the music with whatever instruments they can play, and then it’s mulled wine and mince pies afterwards. My friend Clare adopted this from her parents, and we’ve been doing it for around 12 years or more. Even though the oldest ‘children’ are now in their 20s it’s a much-loved tradition.” Karen
Opening Christmas stockings
“Opening stockings in bed together. We all used to get into my parents’ bed, even in our mid-20s – which was quite a squeeze with six of us. Now my three children come rushing in. It’s the perfect start to Christmas Day with everyone admiring each other’s pile of mini presents. It would be so forlorn if each child opened their stockings separately. We always have a satsuma and sugar mouse in the toe, just like my mum (or Santa) always gave us.” Wendy
Seeing favourite cousins
“I have the happiest memories of Christmas because we used to stay at my grandparents’ big house in the country. I remember being fluttery with excitement as we drew nearer and then bouncing into the house for hugs. Our two sets of cousins stayed too and it was blissful having kids our own age to play with, including a complicated dolls and soldiers game under the table I remember going on for days while the parents did boring grown-up talk. I try to get together with my two sisters and our broods but no one really had the space to host without being stressed so the last two years we get together for a big Boxing Day walk.” Jane
Toasting crumpets over the fire
“We used to warm crumpets with special toasting forks over the open fire at my gran’s. I used to love being trusted to do it and eating crumpets with butter oozing on your fingers. It’s an odd Christmas memory but that’s mine. As soon as our three-month-old baby Joseph is on to solids, I’ll be introducing him to the joys of slightly blackened crumpets.” Finn
Decorating the Christmas tree
“My mum was mad for decorating the Christmas tree. She had this terrible Christmas melodies tape she’d put on and we’d all get really excited hunting through the Christmas box for our favourite decorations. I love decorating the tree with my two six-year-old daughters, Charlie and Alex, and some schmaltzy Christmas music on. One side of the tree at their height always has a splurge of decorations.” Orla
This Christmas, Cadbury wants to give everyone the chance to be a Secret Santa and secretly send Cadbury chocolate to their loved ones. Find your nearest Cadbury Secret Santa Postal Service and join the biggest Secret Santa ever.