Besides being an author and editor, Kit Domino is a superb painter. I would love to have her painting, “Winter Wonderland,” hanging on my wall at home.
Kit lives in the UK and is visiting my blog today to tell us her thoughts about Christmas. Welcome, Kit.
1. Do you celebrate Christmas?
We are not religious so Dave and I celebrate it in our own special way – not for us the stress and hassle a lot of people seem to create for themselves. No paper hats, no crackers, and we don’t send cards. For us, it’s a time for relaxation, a few treats that we wouldn’t indulge in during the rest of the year, and a time for spending with loved ones. Everything is very low key and laid back.
2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?
Never, and I’d hate it if I heard that any of my family were alone on Christmas Day.
3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?
We don’t do traditional. Normally we have roast beef but we have on occasion enjoyed sausage, egg and chips – not that we couldn’t afford anything else but because my husband doesn’t like turkey and all the trimmings, apart from the sausages!
4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?
Christmas is a magical time for children and every child should have something to unwrap from Father Christmas. In our family we only give gifts to the children; watching their faces as they rip off the paper is the best part of Christmas. We treat the adults on their birthdays instead.
5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?
Many years ago when our daughter was aged about nine years, it snowed. We spent Christmas morning building a snowman in the garden, having a snowball fight and making snow angels. It was wonderful, and then coming in from the cold to a glass of warm mulled wine made the day. Simple pleasures that cost nothing and a memory we will never forget. Why can’t all Christmas mornings be like that? More recently, I enjoy watching Dave decorate the tree – for years he wouldn’t get involved, now it’s “his job,” as he tells me. Hmmm… he’s definitely mellowing as he gets older.
6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?
As children, we never had stockings but a Christmas Day tray each – a special fluted shallow dish made of paper maché that was filled with sweets, nuts, fruit and little toys and trinkets. As we grew older, the toys and trinkets turned into jewellery, perfumes, etc. I continue this tradition by doing the same for any guest who is with us over Christmas.
7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?
I have two older sisters who are twins, and most of my clothes as a child were hand-me-downs (two of everything!) which I hated, but I remember one particular Christmas I came down to find a brand new dress. It was brown and white with a pleated skirted and cap sleeves. I loved it – because it was new and bought especially for me.
8. What was the worst gift you ever received at Christmas?
Believe it or not, a giant roll of clingfilm – plastic food wrap – from a niece; my sister-in-law received the same. Neither of us could believe it. It was that which decided Dave and I to stop the gift giving. Decried at the time, but now all the family followed our lead and has stopped giving gifts except to the young ones. They all tell us how much more enjoyable Christmas is now without the worry of what to buy everyone.
9. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?
A dear lady in Germany who purchased the very first bluebell painting I’d ever created for several years afterwards always sent me a home-made Stollen. Being of German stock myself and enjoying many of the German traditions, especially the food, this was wonderful. This year I decided I would go back to making my own as I used to do years ago, long before you could buy Stollen here in the UK.
10. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.
I’m not very good at making craft things but I have given a few paintings as gifts – does that count?
11. What would you change about Christmas?
The length of time we are bombarded with TV adverts and stuff in the shops from the moment the kids go back to school after the summer holidays – especially mince pies! Christmas is one day (okay, two in the UK), not three months. Okay, that makes me sound a grouch, which I’m not. Can I have a magic cracker that turns my Dave into someone who loves all the traditional foods and carols and such?
12. What would you keep the same if you could?
Always having my mother here for the holiday. We lost my father fifteen years ago, since then Mum invariably comes to stay, always asking if she can come. She loves it with us because we don’t fuss and it’s so quiet and relaxed. It wouldn’t be the same without her.
13. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?
I have three: Silent Night, preferably sung in German and another German carol Suesser die Glocken nie klingen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sNICNl9Los#t=72) – sorry, that’s the German blood in me again), and White Christmas by Bing Crosby – all guaranteed to bring a lump to the throat and a tear to the eye. Actually, there’s more than three, now I think about it… I adore Fairytale in New York by the Pogues and Kirsty McColl, and Don’t Stop the Cavalry by Jona Lewie – two songs that always makes me feel that Christmas has arrived.
14. What do you like best about Christmas?
Being with my family.
15. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?
Whilst many of the traditions and food are well rooted in the past and the true Christian meaning has been lost by many, I do think we should endeavour to keep it alive. We value it and it is something enjoyable to look forward to during the middle of winter.
Kit Domino, artist and author of Every Step of the Way