Tinuke and I met in 2012, when I attended my first blogger conference. It as hosted by BritMums. We had been communicating via social media prior to meeting but it was at the conference we met face to face. Online, we’ve watched our children grow. Offline we touched base, talk food and support each other in all things blog sphere. In fact it was via her Blog Baristas group that I was able to improve my engagement on Pinterest. Now, as Christmas approaches I could think of no one better to kick up my guest posts about Christmas traditions than Tinuke. Her words are below.
When I was little, we lived in Luton. Not a million miles away from London, where the majority of my family resided but it felt like it was. Back in the 80s and early 90s, Luton wasn’t as multicultural as it now is. We would take the drive into London every month or so to visit Ridley Road Market, Walthamstow Market and my grandparents in North London too. It was our chance to restock the chest freezers and get a healthy dose of West Indian home cooked meals and culture in the form of my grandparent’s tough love and silliness. I still have fond memories of the plastic-covered furniture in their front room, complete with brilliant white doilies on every surface and the deep brown suede sofas in what was then the back room. I think the only time we were allowed in the pristine front room was at Christmas, but even then, as a kid it wasn’t really our realm.
Christmases of the Past
At Christmas, we would pile into my parent’s car with a boot full of Christmas gifts for all of my cousins and head into London for a massive Christmas get together at my Grandparent’s home in Edmonton. I remember feeling a tad jealous at the amount to presents that weren’t destined to go under my tree and the sensation of overwhelm at the end of our Christmas Eve trips when we were carried back into the car, sleepy from too much fun, with a boot filled with all the amazing gifts our family members had given to us. We would play a Natalie Cole album of her singing her father’s hits and would fall asleep, tummies full before we were on the M25
Those days are long gone but the sense of belonging that they left me with have never been forgotten. Our Christmas traditions are very different now. As I write this, I wonder if we should at the very least rekindle the Christmas Eve tradition of our childhood. My parents come from big families, so there would easily be 10 or 12 cousins to play with, whereas I’m one of two kids and between my brother and I there would only be three kids, so maybe not as exciting as the Christmas Eve’s of my past.
Favourite Christmas Traditions
For a while, when we had one kid and she was really young, we would spend Christmas with another family. It meant our daughter had other children to play with and us as adults could enjoy other grown-up company. It also meant that we could split the Christmas cooking between two families! Result!
More recently, I’d say over the past 6 years, we’ve stayed at home. We moved away from London and had another baby. This mixed with the lure of being able to wear PJs all day was enough for us to switch things up and create some new Christmas traditions. We don’t do Elf on the Shelf or Christmas Eve boxes, but we do leave snacks out for Father Christmas and make a big fuss about Christmas meals.
We live in a fabulous community so normally we do something with our neighbours in the run-up to Christmas Day too. It’s like having an extended family on our doorstep.
We represent Dominica, Nigeria and Jamaica between us. I think our choice of food is a reflection of our cultures and the fact we lived most of our lives in London surrounded by so many different cuisines. Breakfast is my partner’s domain. He is the fried dumpling king. In my defence, in Dominica they eat bakes and fritters (not that I’m the greatest at making either!). We do fried dumplings with ackee and saltfish every year for breakfast whilst the kids explore their freshly opened gifts and I clear up the wrapping paper.
Dinner is a mixed Turkish grill. We drive down to North London and buy the lamb ribs, chicken, vegetables etc we need to create our grilled meats, grilled vegetables, bulgar wheat and salad for our Christmas feast. We don’t like turkey and we found that you’d normally have attended loads of Christmas meals over the festive period with friends or work so by Christmas Day, we’d be over the traditional British Christmas offerings. One of our favourite places to eat as a family when we lived in London was a Turkish restaurant called Kervan Sofrasi. We lived round the corner from their restaurant and went there on a regular. So we create their platter at home at Christmas. It’s a brilliant meal, takes next to no time to cook so we don’t have to worry about spending all day in the kitchen.
The only problem? There’s never any leftovers the next day!
What are you looking forward to this Christmas, comment below I’d love to hear from you.