Ritual 01 / Christmas

Christmas stills:
Ilex and paper garlands - every year

Bristol's best Christmas lights. The kids were ready for bed but we hopped into the car with blankets and hot water bottles, and a flask of hot chocolate. They were enchanted by the lights, and more so by the adventure.

One of my favourite presents: a dipped terracotta jug from Decorator's Notebook

Long shadows

The tree (why are they so difficult to photograph?) with its non-breakable decorations: slices of dried orange and apple, gingerbread stars (long since eaten), glittered salt-dough decorations, pine cones, toadstools, origami stars, and my new favourites - A's hand-drawn cardboard creatures

Operation wear 'em out - Christmas Eve hide-and-seek at Ashton Court

Homemade wrapping paper

Not pictured:
Christmas Eve ice skating followed by pizza and a couple of limoncellos. We walked back along the harbourside, the kids on their scooters with fairy lights tied around, all of us singing rude carols.

There is no month like December for observing rituals so keenly. Every year the same: the box of decorations comes down from the attic; the choosing of the tree and its adornment; songs on the radio, songs sung at school; stockings dusted off and hung on the mantelpiece; mince pies and carrots left out for the man in red; feasting with loved ones, that food and drink only consumed during these short weeks; staying up late, sleeping in, forgetting what day it is.

With ritual comes great comfort. Repetition intertwined with familiarity; a security of sorts, those traditions particular to each household are so reassuring and signify that Christmas is here. I am a sucker for nostalgia, and for its markers. Like the pudding drowned in brandy, this time of year is drenched in nostalgia. Nostalgia literally means 'the pain from an old wound', and there are times when I feel that ache just observing the ritual, the traditions, the children repeating Christmas in the same way as last year; this time a little older, a little wiser, a little further away from being my babies.

I've decided to make ritual the subject of a new blog series, each post exploring a different ritual personal to my family or observed more widely. What are your rituals?

Oh, and Happy New Year!


  1. I love the tree decorations. I'm all inspired to make the dried orange decorations next year - they look so festive and remind me of a gorgeous poem called 'Christmas in Valencia.' And o, your boys are so gorgeous!

    1. I love the sound of that poem, Kirsty. My firstborn likes to hang the orange slices in front of fairy light bulbs to really make them glow.

  2. I have loved discovering your blog this year! Love the idea of ritual…look forward to following along! x

  3. Happy New Year Lotte!

    Ashton Court was my parent's go to on Christmas Eve to wear my sister and I out too.

    I look forward to reading your series on ritual.

    Leanne xx

  4. Happy New Year Lotte!

    Looks like a very lovely Christmas was had by all! We all enjoy doing the same things every year here, it's what we get excited about! Flo is the same as me, i much prefer Christmas Eve - that level of excitement and all the wonder for the next day!

    One thing I don't budge on is tree dates! It has go up before the 5th, has to be real and it has to be gone before NYE. My brain can't deal with the clash of the shiny new year and the old Christmas past!!

    1. Thanks Lia! Happy New Year to you, too.

      Christmas Eve is my favourite. We cannot get a tree too early for fear it will impinge on my birthday, but I know what you mean about the decorations. I've begun to take them down but we aren't there yet....

  5. I found you via Little Green Shed. I couldn't agree more, the ritual of the Christmas period repeated every year. This year we went to NZ for the month of December to celebrate Poppa's 70th and Christmas. Negotiating all the traditions with cousins rarely seen, whilst missing some of our familiar items made for a strange time (not to mention the sun, beautiful but very strange hearing carols whilst eating ice cream at 9pm!). I look forward to catching up with your blog this year. Happy new year!

    1. Hi Kitty! Lovely to meet you. Wow, Christmas in the southern hemisphere is something that blows my mind!

  6. Happy New Year, interesting post, looking forward to reading your series on rituals. I am fascinated by how Christmas is shifting, with trees up at the start of Dec. Growing up the tree never went up till Christmas Eve. (I can however understand the pressure of pester power and all the Christmas things kids do at school now. The tree never came down till 12th night 5th Jan. Still we all make our own rituals for our individual families. Ours involve opening presents with carols on and a Christmas breakfast of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on granary toast. That way lunch can be very late and no early rising needed to get the bird in the oven early!
    Ashton Court is lovely, we went for a long walk there between Christmas and New Year.

  7. Happy new year Lottie, I am spending time thinking of this year ahead of us, there is so much potential. Thank you for sharing this post, it is wonderful. Our Christmas rituals involve family time, woodland walks and food, sherry trifle my grandmother made, profiteroles, cold cuts and a new one this year, checkers with my boy xx


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