Which traditions do you keep? We have one where on Christmas morning, before streaming down to gleefully tear through wrapping paper, we wait at the top of the stairs for mum to check whether ‘he’s been’. She’d head into the living room to check under the tree, and call us in. We’d barrel down and rush towards the gifts.

Years on, it becomes clear that mum wasn’t checking for santa’s presence. She was hiding away the sellotape and an empty glass of chardonnay. Once we hit the age of understanding, it became part of the joke. We still did it anyway.

One year, we lived in a house that had my bedroom on the ground floor. True to tradition, my sister dragged me out of my slumber and up the flight of stairs, where we sat, waited for the all clear from mum, and padded back down them again.


We keep that one, even when the reason changed. Even when the layout changed. We’ve probably lost countless others, too many to number, moments that are filled with love and ripe for repeating.

Which ones do you have? Which ones pass by? I’ve tried to form traditions before- my attempts at finding a boardgame my family are prepared to sit through the instructions of lie thwarted in the wings. It’s not that traditions are chosen, they are organically instated, by accident, by magic.

As I get older, new ones are phased in. Sitting with my sisters to do an *inordinately* intense make up session for people who will literally not leave the house that day is a personal favourite, as is delicately stealing the last bit of smoked salmon. Christmas feels less complete without these moments.

Soon, I’ll have a husband. He has his rituals, I have mine. Eventually they’ll converge and eventually they’ll grow new ones. But even if it’s just the two of us one christmas morning, I can guarantee that I will be waiting at the top of the stairs for him to check whether santa has been.

Farrah Kelly

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