Archives for category: Christmas

24adTP - modern family 2The Last Advent Panda

24th Dec 2015: Modern Families

Well we made it Panda followers! It’s Christmas Eve and the big day is just round the corner.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed my Advent ramblings with my mixture of reminiscing, ranting and hopefully, some uplifting moments have helped you on your pre-Christmas journey.

This blog post isn’t funny, ferocious or farcical and sits firmly in the sincere category.

We now live in a different and diverse world where families are not what they used to be. Children often have just one parent or perhaps up to four! Men are married to men, women are married to women and friends are sometimes closer to us to than family.

It does not matter who you love, how you love, what your faith is or even whether you have one. The coming days present an annual opportunity not to be missed.

Christmas by its very name may have originated in christianity, but it need not stay limited to those bounds. Whoever you are, whatever you believe in, use this holiday season as an opportunity to connect or re-connect with those you love – family and friends.

Make memories that will last, recount people and places of the past – life is fleeting and moves so fast. Press the pause button and take a little time to enjoy it.

The Panda will return in 2016, but until then, I wish you, your families and friends, the very best that the festive season has to offer, together with a peaceful and hopeful new year.

Advent TP signing out.

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23adTP - turkeyThe Advent Panda

23rd Dec 2015: Collecting the Turkey… ‘Gobble Gobble’!

A long time ago in a country far far away….
….before farm fresh
….before additive free
….before carbon footprints
….before ORGANIC….

We used to just toddle up to Tesco for a frozen turkey, cram it into our already bulging freezer and hope to the stars that we remember to take it out early enough for it to defrost in time for Christmas dinner. I’m sure many a family ate at 9pm having not anticipated the thawing time for their plump, now featherless friend.

Now, we set out on Christmas Eve to the local farm (that on other weekends doubtless holds a farmers’ market) to collect our completely fresh, carefully reared and very recently expired turkey in its own carry carton with roasting instructions and even a handy cooking thermometer!

We wait patiently in a queue surrounded by talkative types in designer wellies, while farm hands in santa hats try to keep us entertained with mulled wine and hot slices of their best home-cooked sausages on wooden sticks.

Mock if you will, but it beats being stuck in a supermarket till queue pondering whether to throw a packet of Polos or Juicy Fruit into your basket!

TP.

London snowmanThe Advent Panda

22nd Dec 2015: Still dreaming of a White Christmas?

Christmas snow is rare in the South East of England, despite what tradition and fiction would have us believe. The chances of you getting out there and building a snowman before tucking into your Turkey is pretty slim.

I think for the UK gamblers, the payout is dependent on a single flake of snow falling on the roof of the Met Offices in London during the 25th of December. I’m not quite sure how that works? I know they’ve got lots of equipment up there but I’m sure it doesn’t cover the WHOLE roof. I have a picture in my head of several hardy chaps in scarves and bobble hats sitting equidistantly from each other on the roof and keeping vigil for 24 hours whilst passing round large flasks of coffee. It may not snow, but its bound to be pretty chilly up there!

What are the qualifications for a professional snow spotter and what do they do for the rest of year?

I suppose it’s just another of those great Christmas mysteries…

TP.

21adTP - birthdayThe Advent Panda

21st Dec 2015: Birthdays at Christmas…no short straws please!

There’s a nice sense of balance to having your Birthday somewhere in the middle of year. It spreads out the celebrations and indeed your allocation of gifts!

However, there are those who came hurtling into this world in late December not realising that they were crashing the rest of the world’s party.

Its not their fault and lets not penalise them for it.

Joint presents are a complete no no!

Play nice and give them a separate present or presents for their birthday. Plan a distinct party as you would if their birthday was in August (maybe not a barbecue if you’re in the northern hemisphere)!

Only when you have celebrated them properly can we draw a line and get back to talking about what that jolly fat chap in red will be carrying when he scrambles down the chimney on Christmas Eve.

TP.

20adTP - blottoThe Advent Panda

20th Dec 2015: Board Games or Blotto

I have a theory that on Christmas Day, families tend to fall somewhere on a spectrum which has the following extremes:

At one end are ‘the Revellers’ – the day ends with boisterous board games, fits of laughter and potentially dancing round the christmas tree to Roy Wood & Wizzard with an elderly relative.

At the other end there are the ‘Couch Hounds’ – By the evening, the kids are obsessing with their toys by the tree and the adults have collapsed, half dosing, with one eye on ‘Call the Midwife’ after several bottles of wine and large post-dinner brandies. No one’s going to make it to the table for a 4 hour game of Monopoly here folks!

I’ve had happy experiences of both. What end of the scale are you heading for this year?

TP.

19adTP - xmas beachThe Advent Panda

19th Dec 2015: The Great Christmas Escape…..festive holidays

You either love the idea or hate it. A Festive Family Christmas gathered round the tree – frosty outside, but warm inside by the fire OR….

An escape to either sunnier climes or more extreme winter ones for ski-ing and tobogganing.

You can see the appeal. Are family christmases best viewed through the rose tinted lens of port and sherry, when in fact it’s often an assault course of cooking and chaos?

If you are going abroad for Christmas, go on your own terms, embrace the local culture and see where it leads you. If you’re just going to try and replicate your normal Christmas with a different currency – what’s the point?

There’s no right or wrong. Have fun with the people you love – here, there or anywhere!

Why not go for the best of both worlds? A family christmas in the ancestral home and a raging New Year a couple of hours away by Easy Jet?! Just saying…

TP.

18adTP - shoppingThe Advent Panda

18th Dec 2015: Ready, Steady, Shop!

Leaning towards the old, traditional and quaint is what we do at Christmas. This is fine, but not when it comes to shopping – I urge you!

There is nothing quaint or festive about being sandwiched into Bluewater, Lakeside, Westfield etc. in December with a less than useful christmas list for your loved ones and mile long queue for the tills.

Internet shopping people! The modern development that has truly revolutionised christmas for the better.

A mindless slog around the mall and supermarket – or feet-up on the sofa with a laptop and glass of Crabbies ginger wine. You choose.

TP.

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