Around about now, we will soak our fruit for the traditional ‘Balmer’ Christmas cake, known as the Sladey cake, a nod to my Grandparents.
The smell of brandy mixed with dried fruit, orange and lemon peel, to me is one of the best scents of Christmas. Closely followed by the smell of eucalyptus, displayed in big glass jars in the sitting room, entwined with the smell of of our real Christmas tree.
Choosing our Christmas tree is a super day out. We usually go to the Salle Estate or to Algy’s Farm in Bintree where they have trees growing in the field, ready for you to cut down. There is a strategy involved in choosing the best tree - usually the first tree I spot is absolutely perfect but I will insist on considering around another twenty more before finally admitting that the first one, is “the one.” My family love this game and look forward to this day in the same way I look forward to a root canal.
My most favourite thing to do with my daughter is to visit the main man, Father Christmas at Holkham Hall. He really is the real deal and the whole experience is just magical. It has to be said though, that it’s probably easier to get a front row ticket to Jay Z than it is to FC. Cue existential meltdown, manically refreshing the online ticket page.
The setting of Holkham Hall, beautifully decorated and candle lit makes me feel that childhood magic of Christmas that is often lost with the pressure of being a grown up. I hope my daughter feels the magic too, and treasures the memories into her adult life.
On Christmas Eve we will decorate the table ready for lunch, a task that growing up, was always mine but has already been passed down to my daughter. And it fills my heart to see her enjoying those things so much too, and seeing the excitement and anticipation in her little face.
It really is the most wonderful time of the year.