Norwich family Christmas traditions
Every family has its own special way of celebrating Christmas. From advent calendars to annual bauble-buying, tree-picking to a Christmas moose that delivers pyjamas, we look at how families in Norwich will celebrate this year. STACIA BRIGGS lifts the lid on Christmas traditions.
At our house, the Christmas traditions begin on December 1. My children, even though they have reached the grand old ages of 11 and 13, have refillable advent calendars which are stuffed daily with either a chocolate or a little treat – one year my daughter chooses which comes first, present or chocolate, the next year my son chooses.
Then there's the Christmas mantelpiece, decorated in a different style each year, the Christmas treasure hunt, the trip on the North Norfolk Santa train, the delivery of new pyjamas on Christmas Eve… the list goes on.
We asked two families to tell us their own special ways to celebrate Christmas and discovered the magic moose which delivers treats throughout December and the Christmas tree-buying ceremony which marks a birthday and the beginning of the festive season.
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For the Cameron family it's a festive pilgrimage they look forward to every year – a trip to a Christmas tree farm, a visit to Santa and a helping paw from Newfoundland dogs pulling a sleigh.
Dani and Bob Cameron, from Norwich, have been visiting Elveden Estate, near Thetford since before their daughters McKenzie, six, and Bonnie-Bell, two, were born to choose their Christmas trees.
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The annual trip is always planned to coincide with Bob's birthday on December 11 and has become a family tradition which kick-starts their Christmas.
'It's really magical and, for us, it's when Christmas really begins,' said Dani, 39.
'There are hundreds of trees to choose from and we always buy two – a big one for the conservatory and a smaller one for the lounge. McKenzie has got a really good eye for great trees, so she chooses them.
'When you've picked your tree, it's put on to a little sledge drawn by Newfoundland dogs wearing Rudolph antlers – it's so sweet! Father Christmas is there too and it all feels really Christmassy.'
After buying the trees, the family visits the estate's shop where the children each pick a new decoration for the tree.
'They like quite traditional decorations, things like angels and Father Christmas. They love knitted decorations too and love choosing something new every year,' said Dani, whose husband Bob, 45, is publican at The Coach and Horses in Thorpe Road.
'When we get home, the trees go outside until a week before Christmas – I don't like putting them up any earlier because I think it kills the magic a bit. When we do decorate, the children love seeing where their new decorations are on the tree.'
The family has another, poignant, tradition which takes place after Christmas dinner.
'After lunch, we all go to the cemetery to see my mum's grave and the children make cards for her. It's a way to include her in our day and make us feel like she's joining in,' said Dani.
Dani's mother, Gladys Cooper, passed away in 2009.
'Mum would always say that we had to be at home for Christmas – it was the only day of the year when she in sisted we were there. Christmas meant everything to her,' she added.
'We'll let off some balloons, put the cards on her grave and wish her a Merry Christmas.'