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I can not remember a single Xmas present I ever received as a child, not one and that’s not cos I was hard done by or got crap gifts its just that toys were not really the focus of our day. Mum always made a big deal at Christmas time to make it special and we had a large extended family so gifts were of course a huge part of the festivities, but they did not play the huge part of the day that food did.

The day would start early…5am about the average time one of us would stir. There were six children in our household so once one of us were awake the rest of us would soon follow. There was only so many times mum could shout from her room “no not yet…it’s too early”

Stockings were…and still are in my opinion THE best part of the day. Waking up to find a sack full of gifts at the foot of your bed, opening them while still in bed, finding chocolate treats and of course a tangerine or satsuma in its foot. Yes as 5am our epic Xmas eating had already commenced. Which 7 year old can resist chocolate money?

We always had fresh orange juice first thing, bucks fizz once we were a bit older. But even just orange juice was a real treat for us, as the rest of the year it was squash, or fizzy pop maybe if we were lucky. Fresh orange will forever remind me of Xmas morning.

After opening our main gifts in the front room, normally still in darkness, in our pjs, with the tv showing Xmas cartoons, mum would disappear to the kitchen to make a start on breakfast. Another treat. A full fry up. Very rarely would we have a cooked breakfast any other time during the year, but Xmas is special. Right?

There would (thankfully) be a sizeable gap in the real eating between breakfast and Xmas dinner, perhaps to visit relatives, or whilst we played with our new stuff but mum would have placed bowls of nuts, fruit, quality street, bags of crisps around the house, which get this…we were allowed to have without asking!!!!!

Christmas dinner…always a three course affair and all of us around a big table which in itself as a child was a real novelty. Prawn cocktail to start, and then a massive turkey with all the trimmings and then of course Xmas pudding and cream.

Phew….I’m stuffed just thinking about it.

Dinner would be over by about 5ish, and no sooner had mum cleared up dinner she would be prepping for tea…my favouritest bit of all. My mums Xmas tea is/was the best and normally accompanied by family games and Xmas TV. Tinned red salmon sandwiches with cucumber, quiche, volovonts, scotch eggs, cheese board and crackers, ooohh ritz biscuits, pickles, meats, shortbread, twiglet’s, nuts, turksh delight, more quality street, more crisps…trifle all washed down with cherry aid, or cream soda!! Where the hell did we put it all?

I still love a Xmas buffet.

I don’t go to my mums anymore on Xmas day…well I haven’t for a few years…I think she is sick of the whole affair and cant stand having a full house anymore which is just as well considering my current desire to lose weight, or at least not put on any over the festive period.

I still have the urge to over indulge in those foods though, find myself looking forward to cracking open the quality street (don’t worry I haven’t bought any through fear of finishing the lot off in one sitting). Tonight though I found myself putting chocolate coins in my daughters stocking as I was getting it ready…she is not even one year old yet…am I starting bad xmas food associations for her too?

Walking through the supermarket this week to do some general food shopping, I felt really sad. It all felt like a real con. Food packaged up to appeal to our Xmas tastes, things we buy simply because it’s Xmas and you have got to have such and such at Xmas, or else it’s not Xmas.


I will be going to my mother in laws again this Christmas, and she will be cooking up a Christmas dinner with a Jamaican twist for approximately 25-30 people…there will of course be treats, and things I don’t normally indulge in but I doubt I will need to undo my trousers at any point.

Food is always going to be a huge part of any celebration, and the associations you make from your childhood stay with you forever, but I think there has to come a point where you stop the cycle and start your own traditions.

I am having a family get together next Saturday and I am really excited about the spread I’m gonna put on. It’s gonna be a mix of favourites from mums buffet, some of my other halfs Caribbean cuisine, a few healthy new additions I like the sound of and then dishes brought by guests…but I can guarantee you it will on the whole be proper food…and not the junk advertised on tv that you bung in the oven for 18 minutes.

Xmas will forever be linked to the idea of treating myself, enjoying foods I normally wouldn’t. But I am going to truly enjoy them and not just eat things for the sake of it….so Xmas pudding can do one.

This year I am going to have everything I like but in moderation and offset the calories by scheduling and doing some physical activity…even on Xmas day. It is possible you know, you just need to plan for it and make it one of your xmas traditions. I get that the first time you suggest a post xmas dinner walk the family will laugh or resist, but once you have done it once or twice it will become a tradition.

Happy Xmas folks, and more importantly Happy Running.

  1. December 22, 2013

    Starting your own traditions sounds like a very good idea – mine will involve Xmas morning Parkrun followed by a nice big breakfast – grilled, not fried through. 😉

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