Having, elsewhere in this week's update, discussed the perils of a modern family Christmas, I feel I should redress the balance. My childhood Christmases were far from awful. They were magical, wonderful, magnificent even! I was fortunate to be raised in a family that had old-fashioned values and traditions. Who were more than happy to accommodate the different branches and who enjoyed the simple joys of being together and feasting. And since, at this time of year, I always reflect on those days, I hope you'll forgive my self indulgence in sharing those memories here?

Christmas Eve was all about the three of us - me and my parents. It was, of course, also about getting ready for Santa. I don't know whether the Christmas Eve drink driving laws were less stringent in the 1970s or whether Santa had an elfin designated driver, but we always left a glass of sherry and a mince pie for Father Christmas beside the gas fire - the nearest thing we had to a chimney. And a carrot for Rudolf to help him see in the dark. A quick peek through the gap in the curtains and a listen for the sound of sleigh bells and then I hopped into bed safe in the knowledge that my ever-effective guilty conscience had kept me from Santa's naughty list.

I'm sure come Christmas morning I got up at an ungodly hour, eager to see what presents might have been delivered overnight, although I don't remember my parents complaining too much. Living in a terraced house we only had a small artificial tree so my presents were left in a pillow case fastened to the bottom of my bed. I never once woke to find Father Christmas (or any other father-figure) leaving them there. Mind you, I did once sleep through a sports car crashing into a plate glass window just a few feet away, so perhaps this is not surprising!  In my stocking there was always a chocolate selection box and I inevitably wanted to eat half of it for breakfast. I don't remember every being allowed to … but I tried!

Around midday my Nana and Granddad Rippon would arrive and there would be more presents. Usually they were a bit less of a surprise, because my Nana was at least as impatient as me, and nine times out of ten she had usually spirited me off to the supposedly secret cupboard in her front room to 'preview' my present about a month before Christmas.

But I have to admit, as lovely as Christmas Day with the Rippons was, it was Boxing Day with the Bucklers that was really my festive highlight. Mum's family all did their own things on Christmas Day but on Boxing Day everyone gathered at Granddad and Grandma Buckler's tiny house. The women prepared the food while the men went to the pub! It must have been a scene repeated all over Britain and is probably a system only in operation these days at funeral wakes. But I really loved that time, being alone with all the women of the family, even though I was only very little  I felt grown up and part of something very special. In fact never did I feel more part of something, or happier in my childhood than I did on those Boxing Days. Uncle Trev and Auntie Kath, Grandma's brother and sister-in-law, always came for lunch and, before tea, Grandma's cousin Joyce and Auntie Dolly joined us. Then the celebrations really got going, with the whole family gathered around the piano and a good old sing-song. They were blissful times. And, as by far the youngest member of the family, I got all the attention, love and cuddles.

Sadly those days are gone. And of the participants only me and my parents remain. But not a year goes by that we don't remember and smile. And no matter how our Christmas celebrations change over the years, the essence of that time, and the enjoyment we got from just being with the people we love, always stays with us. What more could we ask for at Christmas?

Spending time with loved ones is essential at Christmas!

Trimming trees is a task best shared …

They say 'friends are the family you choose for yourself ' & here are some of our chosen family!

Did Father Christmas leave his boots behind?