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I have come to a reluctant acceptance that it is impossible to plan a quiet Christmas Day . No matter how much I swear to be steadfast & stubborn, defending our wish to stay home alone December 25th, our plans inevitably tangle up like forgotten fairy lights.
So many other people’s hopes and plans are wrapped up in our own, and when push comes to shove I always cave and find a way to compromise. That’s what Christmas is about, after all – family and sharing and kindness, right?

If that makes me sound like a lovely person, then I’m telling it wrong; I am not always entirely sunny about this level of compromise. I’m really very attached to our idea of a quiet Yorkshire Christmas, and it doesn’t feel great with other people shanghai my plans. Why are my wishes & hopes always so much less important to everyone – including myself? Why do I find it so hard to state my needs?

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preserving christmas star garland
protecting christmas morning

In light of all of this, we’ve downsized our ambitions for this year: all I want is the early hours of the 25th. I’m protecting Christmas morning.

This is the first year Orla’s really understood that Christmas exists, and she’s pretty impressed. She only wants to read Raymond Brigg’s Father Christmas books at bedtime, every night. She found a Santa dog toy at the supermarket and carries it with her everywhere. Any Christmas lights we might see are ‘Father Christmas lights’, and tells me earnestly, ‘Father Christmas is going to really like those!’.

I want to keep the culmination of that magic just for us. I want to tipdoe down the stairs with her electric toddler excitement sparking around us in the air. I want to soak in every second of her joy and wonderment – I’m greedy for it, and it’s just for us three. It’s a spell we have woven between us, and I won’t let anybody break it.

protecting christmas morning with next

Santa’s mince pie half eaten, Rudolph’s carrot lightly nibbled; big snowy fireplace footprints on the floor. I love the Santa myth because of what it really represents: millions of adults coming together to make magic, not for control or power or money, but for the simple joy that it brings to their kids.

Finding out that he wasn’t entirely real was no great trauma to me as a child; it was just that gradual realisation that most of us had, with the only surprise really being that my parents had bothered in the first place. Childhood magic wasn’t exactly of huge concern to them, but for once their inclination to follow the status quo actually paid off, making me a lifetime lover of December in all her glittering glory.

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next star pyjamas

Christmas is the season for loving and giving and goodwill and sharing and I’m totally, entirely on board with that – really I am. But what I’m realising is, to stay sane at a time with so many demands and tensions, maybe you need to be a little bit selfish too.
Because if you’re like me (& I know many of you are), what we class as ‘selfish’ is what others class as normal, sensible behaviour. They don’t know that we’re not so good at pushing our own needs forward, so they trample us without realising, a herd of reindeer through our field of slow-built snowmen.

This Christmas morning, I need four hours of magic with this little family of mine, with steaming mugs of coffee, blankets and firelight, the kittens playing with string. That’s the only gift I want this year, and if Santa brings it for me, it can’t possibly be selfish to accept ;).

WIN MY CHRISTMAS PICKS from NEXT

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Win all the festive goodies you see in this post courtesy of NEXT! UK entries only on this one, I’m afraid – not least because there’s not time to send it worldwide before Christmas!

Preserving christmas morning with next
next north pole box

photography by the TRULY BRILLIANT Melia Melia. Did I mention they’re doing my wedding? Literally the only thing I’ve actually booked. #priorities

This post in collaboration with NEXT.

85 Comments

  • @oftheeveryday

  • October 18, 2016

am eagerly going through your blog archive as i am a little late to the me_and_orla party and immensely enjoying binging (in the most complimentary positive and dreamy use of the word possible!) on all the posts. so far, this is one of my favouritest. so magical, honest and human all at once. your writing is enchanting.

  • Lindsay Eryn

  • January 31, 2016

I wholeheartedly agree about the need and then the desire to preserve Christmas for the most immediate family. When my husband and I came around to our first winter holidays together, we put our foot down and claimed Christmas morning for ourselves forever and always. Both sets of our parents live nearby, and we’ve already felt the pull to break away from our new (and almost only) Christmas tradition, but I’m so glad we set the standard early.

Glad to hear you’ve been able to protect those precious moments and that pre-Christmas was so delightful for Orla!

  • TheDaydreamerDiary

  • December 27, 2015

Same here, Sara: the early hours of Dec25, I want them only for the four of us, shamelessly. So far, I have managed to protect these few sacred moments from the whirlwind of other people’s wishes. Once these hours are passed, I am more than happy to share, mingle, sing and scream with others. Probably because this is the way Christmas has always been in my own family – and it worked wonders in making this time of the year a quiet one dedicated to reflection and meditation too. Enjoy the festive season with your family and thank you for being here!

  • C h l o e

  • December 24, 2015

We will be doing exactly the same Sara – Christmas morning with our little family. The snowy footprints just weren’t appreciated fully last year 😉 But at nearly 3, both Orla and Flo can really enjoy Christmas and I also feel very protective of that! Croissants, coffee and a pesky cat will all feature in ours and four hours will no doubt become two by the time we get up and organised – but it’s special all the same. A very Merry Yorkshire Christmas xxx

  • Portia

  • December 18, 2015

fantastic 🙂

  • cornishgirl

  • December 18, 2015

Great post. Difficult with little ones because you’re torn between wanting just to enjoy it with them yourself and letting them enjoy it with extended family. Hope you have a lovely day anyway.

  • Lucy robinson

  • December 18, 2015

What a lovely giveaway. Cant wait for Christmas. Not sure who is more excited the kids or me.

  • Rida Suleri-Johnson

  • December 18, 2015

Oh I’m jealous! I can’t wait to even have Christmas morning to ourselves but having family scattered around the country means it’s impossible! Hopefully with the arrival of baby number two, we can have our own little quiet next year!
Although I do look forward to some hubbub and chaos with family!
Even if I’m just watching it! Xxx

  • Tammy Stevenson

  • December 18, 2015

This has been my Christmas wish for the past three years and All be it the reason for it happening this year is that I have fallen out with half my family. I am more than happy to accept that. I am looking forward to a wonderful Christmas with my almost 3 year old filled with the wonder and excitement you are talking about. I hope you all have the best Christmas morning together with the magic of Christmas filling the air. Merry Christmas!

  • Nicola Lynch

  • December 18, 2015

Your post totally resonates with me. It’s such a beautiful post and you’ve put into perfect words what I am feeling. We always spend Christmas at our families but this year, being our little ones first year really knowing about Father Christmas, I wanted him to wake up in his own house to find Father Christmas had been, and to see the joy and wonderment of that just as a family of three. I’ve got my wish, and then we’re going of to the family later. I think it’s really important and you’ve both made me feel better about it, and understand it more! Thank you. Merry Christmas!

  • kim neville

  • December 18, 2015

lovely giveaway thanks

  • Lisa Wilkinson

  • December 18, 2015

Thank you for a lovely prize 🙂

  • Hannah Rowley

  • December 18, 2015

Lovely competition fingers crossed x

  • sharon martin

  • December 18, 2015

Awesome Giveaway

  • Jess Howliston

  • December 18, 2015

Fab giveaway and I love all your fab picks! x

  • Barbara Handley

  • December 18, 2015

Someone is going to be so lucky to win.

  • Kristy Leanne Brown

  • December 18, 2015

Brilliant article. Merry Christmas – lets all hope that it’s a magical one for all x

  • embabes

  • December 18, 2015

This is beautiful, I still believe in the magic of Christmas, just as much as I did as a child, but it’s for different reasons now. It’s my favourite time of year – lovely article x

  • emma walters

  • December 18, 2015

gorgeous giveaway )

  • Lorraine Anderson Mse

  • December 18, 2015

Great article, Merry Christmas

  • stash01

  • December 18, 2015

Great site guys. Keep up the good work

  • Rebecca

  • December 17, 2015

Beautiful post, it brought a tear to my eye! It’s my boy’s first Christmas, he will be 10 months old. I hope I can make it as magical for him as you do for your family in years to come x Have a wonderful Christmas x

  • Jo Carroll

  • December 17, 2015

Love your photographs. I think they really capture the true spirit of Xmas morning…do you use a special filter to get that matte misty effect – it’s very evocative of days gone by? x

  • sue wickins

  • December 17, 2015

Merry Christmas everyone

  • suzannesendell

  • December 17, 2015

great post.really magical

  • Angie Hoggett

  • December 17, 2015

count me in!

  • Laura Nice

  • December 17, 2015

Merry Christmas! Lovely post xx

  • Janice Mackin

  • December 16, 2015

Lovely post. Thanks for the fab giveaway!

  • Caroline Scott

  • December 16, 2015

we’ve been very firm this year and are visiting family before xmas to ensure that xmas day is exactly how we want it without having to give up plans to suit others

  • stephen holman

  • December 16, 2015

thanks for the giveaway!! 🙂

  • louise clarke

  • December 16, 2015

I would love to win this 🙂

  • Christine Constable

  • December 16, 2015

I love the idea of Santa footprints in the hearth & the part eaten carrot & mince pie. That’s sure to keep the magic alive.

  • Minnado

  • December 16, 2015

Great post. I have to take a deep breath each Christmas morning as my MIL insists on arriving at ten am to give the kids presents. I feel pressured to ensure we are all dressed and hair brushed. She won’t eat or drink in our house as it’s not clean enough (!) for her. So she dispenses way too many gifts, gives her son the requisite 18 bottles of deodorant and ten pairs of socks ( seriously) and leaves. Then I can relax…

  • Jen Morgan

  • December 16, 2015

fab giveaway and great post x

  • Christina Curtis

  • December 16, 2015

What a Fantastic giveaway!

  • LJ Baker

  • December 16, 2015

Such a lovely giveaway – thank you and Merry Christmas 🙂

  • Samantha Loughlin

  • December 16, 2015

Thanks for a lovely giveaway xx

  • Annie, Fable & Folk

  • December 16, 2015

Oh these photos are lovely – can’t wait to see the photo of your wedding after! x

  • Gemma Brown

  • December 16, 2015

really lovely post :o)

  • Louise Smith

  • December 16, 2015

Thank you and have a lovely Christmas x

  • Jodie Crossley

  • December 16, 2015

amazing prize, lovely!

  • Stephanie Whitehouse,

  • December 16, 2015

Poetic in words and images

  • Samir Lola

  • December 16, 2015

Beautiful post.

  • Sara

  • December 16, 2015

Gosh what a beautifully written post! Last year I was lucky enough to be able to have Christmas morning in my own house and it was amazing! While I love traveling and visiting family, it’s not my favorite thing not sleeping in my own bed and waking up to see the presents I bought for my husband and my dog under my tree. It’s nice to have that special time together. And while I may be too old to believe in Santa…there’s definitely still magic in the air on Christmas Eve. I love it!

  • Jax Blunt

  • December 16, 2015

You will be amazed to hear I know exactly what you mean.

  • Jenna Michelle Pink

  • December 15, 2015

I find Christmas can be quite hard to balance. I am so torn between having a big family Christmas like always and spending a quiet day just us. I think my OH wants a quiet day. We have decided to have a family Christmas just us until 5 pm and then we will do the family thing 🙂

I hope you get your peaceful slow lived Christmas morning. Your needs and wants are just as valid as everybody else’s: 🙂

  • Leanne V Mckenna

  • December 15, 2015

What a lovely post, I hope the three of you have the most magical Christmas x

  • Sarah mackay

  • December 15, 2015

Merry Christmas

  • Farhana

  • December 15, 2015

I echo your post! Thanks for that

  • Sara Tasker

  • December 15, 2015

Ah, thanks lovely Rosie! Wedding photos will require an actual wedding venue and dress, but yes… James will make it look good regardless, right? haha! x

  • Sara Tasker

  • December 15, 2015

Ah, I’ve never heard of this before but it sounds so wonderful! What enchantment to come home to – I’m desperately trying to figure out how your parents did it too!! Have a wonderful Christmas Kathi x

  • Sara Tasker

  • December 15, 2015

Thank you Kate. Hope you have a wonderful day too xxx

  • Sara Tasker

  • December 15, 2015

thank you Tess. Merry Christmas! x

  • Sara Tasker

  • December 15, 2015

Yes, each time has its own magic! We have a lovely Christmas eve planned with R’s family, and a great Christmas afternoon with mine. Feel so lucky to be able to do all three 🙂 x

  • debbie

  • December 15, 2015

Such a nice prize – happy christmas xxx

  • Sara Tasker

  • December 15, 2015

Yes! Thanks Sarah – I know consumerism and Coca Cola are factors, but I refuse to believe that’s the motivation for most! x

  • SARAH

  • December 15, 2015

happy christmas xxx

  • Mary Hutton

  • December 15, 2015

Happy Christmas, fantastic prize and great post xx

  • Paula Burnside

  • December 15, 2015

Merry Christmas xx

  • jenniwren12

  • December 15, 2015

what a lovely prize

  • laura banks

  • December 15, 2015

lovely prize thank you

  • Claire Dawson

  • December 15, 2015

Lovely post

  • ANGELA B

  • December 15, 2015

lovely prize

  • ashleigh allan

  • December 15, 2015

would really love to win this!

  • Maxine

  • December 15, 2015

Wonderful! Many thanks for sharing

  • Bbbbirdie

  • December 15, 2015

Love those star lights! Beautiful post.

  • Zoe Goulding

  • December 15, 2015

Lovely post, enjoyed reading

  • moonray69

  • December 15, 2015

Thank you for this LOVELY giveaway! Merry Christmas xx

  • Jackie ONeill

  • December 15, 2015

great prize, so love to win, thanks

  • Carole

  • December 15, 2015

Lovely post & prize

  • steven

  • December 15, 2015

Love it, Merry Christmas 🙂

  • barbara daniels

  • December 15, 2015

How truly gorgeous!!!!!

  • Angela Walker

  • December 15, 2015

happy Christmas

  • Lindsey Stuart

  • December 15, 2015

This is a super prize! We all love Christmas morning how perfect!

  • Kelly glen

  • December 15, 2015

A lovely post and a great giveaway.

  • caroline walliss

  • December 15, 2015

I love your post, have a amazing xmas.x

  • Rebecca Anderson

  • December 15, 2015

I often feel that Christmas Eve (particularly the evening) is what Christmas is all about to me. I have a feeling that when we manage to have children, that Christmas morning will be very different though! It’s difficult when it’s so bound up in tradition and nostalgia to separate our own needs and desires from everyone else’s. Compromise is the way, as you say; it’s just tricky to strike a balance!

  • Sarah

  • December 15, 2015

I love how you’ve described “millions of adults coming together to make magic, not for control or
power or money, but for the simple joy that it brings to their kids.” Santa was such a magical part of being a child for me and I think reducing it all to consumerism really does it an injustice.

  • tess a

  • December 15, 2015

I hope you enjoy your precious Christmas morning, I am sure it will be magical xxx

  • Kathi

  • December 15, 2015

In Austria the christmas tree sort of represents baby Jesus (hard to explain), and part of the magic is that it’s just suddenly there when you get home from church on Christmas eve, fully decorated and with presents underneath. I still have no idea how my parents did it, they were always with us all the time… Wishing you and your family the quiet and magical christmas you’re hoping for!

  • Tracy K Nixon

  • December 15, 2015

Lovely post and giveaway! Thank you and Merry Christmas!

  • Rosie

  • December 14, 2015

Just LOVE this post! <3 Gorgeous photos too, your wedding photos will be a vision! x

  • Kate | Netherleigh

  • December 14, 2015

Enjoy those magical few hours as just three and carry them with you throughout the day xx

  • Sheona

  • December 14, 2015

It is hard to say ‘actually, we just want to be by ourselves’. I find it particularly tricky because it’s just me and Ally. Few people seem to understand that seeing people is stressful and sometimes although I want to see people over the festive season, on the day itself I am more than happy to be alone without adult company. I think especially for children, it is nice for them to be able to stay at home and leisurely play with their new gifts. Rather than to hastily open them and then be torn away for them.

We’re only leaving the house so someone else can cook for us ?

  • Dani

  • December 14, 2015

I’m not surprised Melia Melia are doing your wedding – their photos are absolutely stunning, so dreamy! Christmas Eve and Christmas morning were always our moments as a family, whether it was four kids snuggled together in the same room, or begging to open one present early the night before, or mum sitting down to read us “The Night Before Christmas” (she still does this now even though we’re all adults…). Mealtimes were for extended family, but the evening and the morning were always just for us! So I do understand you wanting to hold even a couple of hours of just-the-family time back for yourself. xxx

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