I cannot tell you about my perfect Christmas Day without first of all thinking about Christmases past. As a little girl I remember lying in bed on Christmas Eve shouting down to my mum every five minutes asking how many hours it was till Christmas Day. In the morning I'd have a stocking at the end of my bed which had some chocolate and a satsuma in it. Downstairs there were three piles of presents for my two sisters and I. As the youngest of three, my pile was always the biggest. I remember Plasticine, a Girl's World, a toy broom, a Sindy doll, an Intellivision console and a Humpty Dumpty among my gifts over the years.
My dad used to prepare the vegetables for Christmas dinner in the kitchen whilst wearing a Christmas hat and my mum would potter around in her pinny calculating the cooking time for our turkey. The hallway would be filled with festive chocolates and rows of bottles containing booze or pop. I'd always be allowed a weak port and lemonade to celebrate. The tinsel Christmas tree sat on top of our TV which was tuned in for the Top of the Pops Christmas special and my sisters and I would sing and dance along with Pan's People!
I have so many memories of childhood Christmases, some good (my dad bringing a black sack for me to tidy up the wrapping paper, which in reality contained a gift I really wanted but thought Santa hadn't brought me) and some bad (accidentally setting my Christmas cracker on fire by holding it over a candle and getting a right good telling off for it!) But whether good or bad, they are memories that have shaped me into who I am today.
Since becoming a mum, I have spent the last 25 years trying to give my children memories that they can take with them through life, look back on with a smile and learn from. With festive family traditions, a focus on the emotional over the material and a sense of humour in the face of things going wrong, I hope I have taught my kids what is important in life. The things that truly matter.
For me, Christmas Day involves being surrounded by my family. With my nest filled with all of my five chicks, I am at my happiest. It might be chaotic, it will definitely be noisy and things may not go to plan. But seriously, if there is laughter and love nothing else really matters. With my best friend and husband by my side and my five children and my grandson having fun, I am in my element.
When the kids wake up in the morning they grab their stockings and come into my bed. Thank goodness it's a kingsize! They take it in turns opening their stocking presents oohing and ahhing over each and every little thing. From the oldest to the youngest they love this moment of togetherness and sharing and it sets the tone for the day ahead.
We have a leisurely breakfast together before opening the main presents. After every present is unwrapped we think about who gave it to us and what thought has gone into it. We send some love through the ether to our loved ones who have taken the time and trouble to send us gifts.
We also remember our loved ones who are no longer with us. We think of them with a smile and talk about the good times we had. My lovely Nan and my sister Carol are never far from my mind. I miss them so much, but taking a moment to remember makes them a part of our special day and they feel so close.
The afternoon is spent watching any DVDs or playing games together, until it's time to sit down to a veggie Christmas feast. The rest of the day is set aside for some family fun, silly challenges (often involving food!) and memory making.
Christmas Yet To Come 2013
So what is my perfect Christmas Day? Being awoken on Christmas morning by Brad Pitt bearing nothing but a champagne breakfast and a wry smile? Sitting on a beach in some far flung corner of the world with the sun kissing my skin and the crystal blue water lapping at my toes? Being lavished with expensive gifts from Tiffany's? No.
So, what will be my ideal way to spend this coming Christmas?
That's easy - having four generations of my family under one roof, from my 1 year old grandson Ted to my 81 year old dad, all enjoying every moment of being together and having fun. Twelve of my favourite people altogether on this special day. Perfect.
The formula might be the same. The chaos will undoubtedly ensue. But the feelings of love, fun, family and laughter will hopefully create an atmosphere of joy that everyone will remember for years to come.
If everyone, from the youngest to the oldest are happy, well fed and entertained I will have done my job. If everyone looks back and remembers just how loved and cherished they felt, then this year will have been the perfect Christmas Day!
However you spend your day, may Christmas Day 2013 be absolutely perfect for you!