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Doesn’t really matter if your celebrate Christmas or not, this time of year is full of ritual – some traditional, some just peculiar to our own homes and families, but all of them observed, enjoyed or treasured in some way that is meaningful to us.

As someone who is really impacted by the short days and lack of sunshine at this time of year, one of my most valued rituals is around the winter solstice on the 21st. Acknowledging the shortest day and welcoming the start of the return of the light is important to me – so burning a yule log in the fire, lighting some candles and a smudge stick of juniper, spruce and cedar – all set the tone for a moment to reflect on the year gone by and remind me to connect with the natural world while looking ahead to lighter days.

For you it might be as simple as having the same Christmas playlist on repeat on every trip out in the car, or if you have little ones getting teary at the school nativity or carol concert. I think most families have a ritual around rediscovering the homemade decorations from decades ago and teasing those, now grown, family members for their slightly wonky creative efforts. Or it may be that moment you finally take for yourself with your feet up and a cup of tea while you go through the Christmas Radio Times and highlight all the old classics you want to catch up on during the holidays (come on I KNOW I’m not the only one who does this!).

Christmas is such a magical time, and each year we all spend it differently – it’s been fun chatting to the team about their own special moments. Isabel says; “An absolute favourite tradition of mine is unwrapping our Christmas pyjamas on Christmas Eve and putting them on to play a family board game by the fire. My dogs love to join in in their Christmas pudding jumpers but aren’t quite so good at helping with the board games! I love having a cosy evening in before Christmas Day and you can never have too many fluffy pyjamas, especially in this chilly weather! A family favourite boardgame to play is Monopoly – but we all know how intense and competitive a serious game can become, so it often ends in cheating! With Christmas songs or a film playing in the background, this always makes me feel the most festive at Christmas.”

It’s no secret to us that Chloe and Daisy absolutely LOVE Christmas. A little known secret is that if Daisy needs motivational music on a challenging changeover here at Swallowtail Hill she’s been known to play her Christmas playlist in the middle of summer!! So after a long, excited wait when December 1st finally arrives, and Chloe and her family head to Dengate’s Farm to pick and cut down their Christmas tree. Once they get home it’s straight to decorating – there’s no hanging about! Dressing the tree is hard work so homemade sausage rolls and mince pies are always a must for them. After the tree has been decked, their stockings go up by the fire – not forgetting one for their dog Buddy too of course!

Daisy and her dad love to go last minute shopping on Christmas Eve. Every year without fail they wrap up warm and head to the shops to hunt for any last-minute stocking fillers– or even a little gift for themselves! After a festive breakfast and a busy day of shopping Daisy heads home for a cosy evening to watch A Nightmare Before Christmas and The Muppets Christmas Carol with her mum. For the past few years at Christmas the whole family has made a supermarket trip to do a huge Christmas shop that they very kindly donate to one of the local homeless charities.

So what makes the season special for you you?

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