I grew up in the Philippines. As a young person in a predominantly Catholic country, the festive season had enormous expectations and significance within most households. However, I believe that my family and I were not fully captivated by the spirit of Santa Claus.
Christmas cards would depict snowy days, films would show houses with chimneys (through which Santa would gain entry into your house), and children were encouraged to leave some carrot and port for Santa and his reindeers. All of these concepts were foreign to me.
Nonetheless, since moving to the UK more than eleven years ago, I have wholeheartedly adopted the Western way of celebrating the holidays. Eating my first mince pie marks the start of the festive season; crackers are present in every Christmas dinner table; and afternoons are spent waiting for the Queen’s Christmas message and a few films whilst stuffing ourselves with chocolates.
When we were younger, Christmas Day involved getting up ridiculously early, waking our parents with breakfast, and opening presents in our dressings gowns. Since entering adulthood, however, times have changed. Christmas dinner takes priority, and gifts become a nice side dish to an otherwise family-oriented affair.
Here’s how I spent my Christmas Day this year – my first as a vegetarian, too:
10 AM: Breakfast. 3 pieces of toast with a quarter of an avocado, the juice of half a lime, some chilli flakes and a tomato. I also mashed a handful of chickpeas with lime juice and chilli flakes, and used that as a spread.
10:30 – 11:30 AM: Christmas dinner prep. Greeting family and friends from far and near. Exchanging pleasantries with relatives.
12:00 – 12:45 PM: Workout. Yes, I worked out on Christmas Day. I used this quick warm-up video from Fitness Blender before tackling Kayla Itsines’ BBG 1 Week 7 Abs & Cardio (I did 3 sets of each circuit).
1:30 – 2:00 PM: Opening and unravelling of presents. I was very lucky this year, as always. My presents included a cast iron dutch oven, electric toothbrush, NARS make-up, and some PJs. It’s all about the practical presents as you grow older.
2:00 – 2:45 PM: Christmas Dinner. Undoubtedly the crème de la crème of the whole day for many. It was my first Christmas as a vegetarian – along with my sister. Our plate was brimming with roasted spiced cauliflower, steamed vegetables (cabbage, kale, broccoli, carrots and brussel sprouts), orange and maple-roasted brussel sprouts with chestnuts, a Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, cranberry and pomegranate sauce, and a roast butternut squash nut roast from M&S. Slathered all over with red wine gravy.
It was too delicious for words – I could not stop myself from grazing despite being so satiated! All washed down with a couple of glasses of Soave, of course.
3:00 PM: The Queen’s Christmas message. I’m not sure if this was due to my stepdad’s upbringing, but it is an annual tradition in our household to watch Her Majesty bestow some festive cheer.
The rest of the afternoon/evening: spent eating, sleeping, watching new DVDs from our various Christmas hauls, and repeating this cycle until bedtime.
I know some families who complete a different jigsaw puzzle every year, and one who holds their own Christmas quiz. My family is not fond of routines, and we happily welcome changes in our Christmas day schedule yearly.
I am one of the first to admit that I quickly changed out of my semi-formal attire after our meal in favour of my new PJs. We love lounging around the living room until evening – and I would not change this for the world.
Until next Christmas!
I’d love to hear how you celebrated Christmas Day this year – whether you went for an early morning run, or stayed in your PJs for the whole day.