Traditions

Pre-Christmas clean and it brings surprises as ever. Not just the things that have been hiding behind the sofa for several months or the books I have been meaning to read gathering into a tottering pile. Paper seems to be everywhere in these days of paperless offices and each one needs sorting into a pile. Or in my case, fending off the decision until next clear out, put in a drawer somewhere.

Still the cards are up, decorations wait until Christmas Eve.  A family habit from the French side of the family; we liked Christmas very much, but didn’t believe it should last beyond the twelve days. So food and presents in advance, but decorations and crib up on Christmas Eve and taken down for the Epiphany.

I’m not particularly set in my ways (ha!) but this time of year brings out the family traditions that one has absorbed without noticing. What, when and how we eat. Where and if we go to church. Who we invite to share (in our family it was extended relations and various neighbours who were alone), even what telly we watch, Queen’s speech or not, (half the family would watch and the republicans would huddle in the kitchen eating chocolate) precise timing of trip down the pub and walks.

And I’ve just discovered that applies to tidying too. I picked up a t-shirt from the floor and gave it a shake, or rather a snap and instantly remembered the sounds of Mum and her French relatives doing the same. It’s a particular sound that took me back to childhood and made me grin.

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