Whether you're a massive fan of Christmas, an average lover of the holiday, or a Scrooge, everyone has at least one festive tradition, right?
From films to food, Mike Craven, author of the new book The Curator (which is available now), has five wonderful traditions he and his family do every year at Christmas without fail.
Craven begins by telling us about Christmas throughout his life…
Christmas has been a mixed bag for me. Massive family event when I was growing up, taken as and when I could when I was in the army, and not taken too seriously after I was discharged (honourably, I might add), particularly the one I spent in hospital.
But then I married a Christmas-daft Carlisle lass and I was press-ganged into becoming less Grinch and more Buddy the elf. Some of these traditions are longstanding, some are relatively new.
Tradition number one
We have to have a real Christmas tree. They’re a pain in the a**e, but it makes the house smell lovely and they do look better. It also means I get to use my axe when we chop it up in the New Year.
I love using my axe. Makes me feel like a woodsman. And while Joanne (my wife) has hundreds of ornaments, I get to put my solitary one – Sherlock Holmes – at the top.
Tradition number two
Roast potatoes have to be cooked in goose fat. Accept no substitutes.
Tradition number Three
Joanne and I always exchange books on Christmas Eve, a tradition we pinched from Iceland. It dates back to WWII and is called jolabokaflod over there.
Last year Joanne gave me Bird Brain by Guy Kennaway, which is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.
Tradition number four
We have to watch Elf. Joanne laughs and smiles all the way through, particularly the bit where he does the massive burp.
I scowl and say it’s a kid’s film and why can’t we watch an Iron Maiden DVD instead. Think we’ll be doing this well into our eighties.
Tradition number five
In the run up to Christmas I stalk my local butchers (Cranston’s) for the day they put the samples out. Five different types of stuffing, three-bird roasts, chucklings, pigs in blankets, the works.
I have a technique now that allows me greater access. I always wait until sample day to put my Christmas order in. That means I have a legitimate reason to be standing by the sample table while they fill in the form.
Gets me two extra minutes at least, more if I play dumb about the weight of something. Another chunk of orange and cranberry stuffing while you wait, Mike? Don’t mind if I do . . . It’s the one day of the year I consume 5000 calories before 10 A.M.
M W Craven’s books are all available to order, including his third book in the Poe and Tilly series, The Curator.
The fourth instillation in this series, Dead Ground, will be coming to shelves in early June 2021 in hardback. The paperback version will be released in November 2021.
Written be Melissa, who you can follow on Twitter @melissajournal