On the Seventh Day of Christmas... I Made Seven New Year's Resolutions

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Sometimes the first thing that comes to mind is the thing you want to do the most.
How many times have you made New Year's Resolutions and broken them within a week or two? The 7 Things Project by Day Zero suggests using these seven prompts as an alternative to boring New Year's Resolutions and to help us think about what we really want to achieve during the coming year.
I wasn't very successful with last year's list so I've given this year's some serious thought and I'm posting it here on the Interweb in the hope that my lovely readers will help hold me accountable.

Learn how to speak Spanish
"But you studied Spanish at University, didn't you?" Yes. Yes, I did. But I did it as a beginner and never got to the level that I would like to have reached. Then after uni I went into a job that didn't involve languages and pretty much lost everything I had managed to learn. Since we have a villa in Spain I really want to get my Spanish up to scratch so that I can speak to the locals while we're out and about, understand the headlines that I see on the TV or a newspaper and even pick up a magazine or book and read it without having to think about it. 

Start doing yoga... again
I started doing yoga a couple of years ago, but then I moved to Orpington so I stopped going (I think I actually stopped going before I moved, but that's the excuse I use). Towards the end of last year I started going to the gym and enjoyed it, but then I started doing Jazz and enjoyed that even more. I realised I didn't want to pay for both so I quit the gym and I've decided to use some of the gym membership money towards yoga. So when classes start up in the New Year I'm going to do yoga on a Monday evening and Jazz on a Wednesday after Slimming World.

Stop taking my medication for depression and anxiety
Of course this isn't going to be a "Right, it's 1st January so I have to stop taking these now!" kind of resolution, but I now feel I'm in the right frame of mind that I will soon be able to start reducing them. All being well I'll be done with them well before the end of 2017. I'd like to say that once I'm off them I'll never take them again, but this isn't my first time. To a certain extent depression and anxiety will always be with me and if the time comes again when I need a little help, I will have no shame in asking for it.

Take a holiday to Germany
Of course I've got my usual summer holiday at the villa, but I really want to go to a German Christmas Market. I went to a one in Birmingham a few years back and loved it, but I want to go to a proper one in Germany like my parents used to. Some people wouldn't consider this a holiday, but for me even a long weekend away somewhere I wouldn't usually go is a holiday. I wanted to go to one this year, but things ended up getting a bit crazy. I already had Barcelona booked and then I went to the villa so I ended up not having enough holiday left at work. It's at the top of my list for 2017 though. In fact I told one of my managers back in November that it was something I wanted to do and she said the same so maybe we can arrange a work jolly.

Find the time to just sit and read 
I love reading. I started a book club with my friends because I love reading so much. In recent years though I have found it a struggle to find the time to sit down and enjoy the reading process. It doesn't happen all the time. Sometimes I'll be waiting for a book to come out and when it's finally released I'll devour it in a couple of sittings. More and more though I find I'm too tired to even bother picking up a book to start with. After a day at work I just want to watch TV or scroll mindlessly through social media. So in 2017 I would like to dedicate some time each day to sit and read, even if it's just for 10 minutes.

Try to take more photos and start to vlog
I used to take a ridiculous amount of photos and I have a box full of albums in my parents' attic to prove it. Every now and then I'll sit and have a flick through them and the memories of the time they were taken come flooding back to me. I don't know why I stopped taking them as much, but there was no reason to as we all have cameras on our phones nowadays and I also have an amazing DSLR that I really want to learn to use properly. In addition to taking photos I'd love to start vlogging to capture those moments that don't always come across as well in a photo. I'm hoping that I can start my Silver Voyage Award soon and I would love to use recording and editing videos for the Skill section.

Be more organised
A lot of people would say that I am already extremely organised, but in reality it's an organised appearance that disguises complete and utter disarray. Not only do I want to make and keep both my room and work space tidy, but I also want to organise all the different aspects of my life too. I have family, friends, work, Girlguiding, Younique, Women's Equality Party, fitness classes and I'd also like to fit some me time in there too. I know people that do loads more than me and are able to cope so I just need to use my time more effectively.

So these are my New Year's Resolutions for 2017. I'll no doubt write about them at various points during the year to let you know how I'm getting on. What are yours going to be? Let me know in the comments, especially if you decide to use these prompts.

On the Sixth Day of Christmas... I Did an Oracle Reading for the Year Ahead

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Today I thought I'd share with you my oracle reading for the coming year which I do as part of My Shining Year workbook. Well, I say oracle reading, but I haven't actually used any of my oracle cards. Earlier this year I bought yet another set of cards to add to my collection. They are Michelle Buchanan's Numerology Guidance Cards. I've always been fascinated by Numerology so I thought I'd give these a go this time round. 

I have always embraced my individuality so I think this is just a nice reminder that I'm on already starting the year on the right track. One thing that I did take from the guidebook that  accompanies the cards is that "what others think of you isn't your business anyway, and it's impossible to please everybody, so you must focus on pleasing yourself."

Don't go getting any ideas. I'm not pregnant. That would be the immaculate conception! I make no secret of the fact that I want children, but it's not going to happen any time soon. No, I think in my case this card relates to my role in guiding. I've been wondering whether I made the right choice in leaving Rangers and just doing Rainbows part time, but this card reminds me that the "ability to teach, nurture, and guide the next generation raises the vibration of the world. Every ounce of time, attention, love, and support invested in a child pays dividends down the road."

I'm going on a fitness retreat in May, but I'd already decided that I wanted to go away somewhere different for a weekend where I can have a mini retreat by myself. I hadn't decided where or when, but now I've drawn this card, I think I have a better idea of the "when". The "where" is still up for grabs though. Somewhere fairly picturesque so that I can go on some nice walks and maybe with little phone signal so that I'm not tempted to be glued to a screen constantly.

"Rather than surrender to self-pity, laziness, negativity, or frustration, you must utilise your inner power, for your are STRONGER than you think." Now I've chosen it as my word of the year, it's just going to keep cropping up, isn't it! "When the going gets tough, the tough must get going." Time to add a bit of Boyzone to my 2017 playlist. "So pull yourself together, and have faith in your success." OK, so now we get to the part I really need to listen to. I can be successful, but it won't be easy, so just make sure you don't give up!

I'm not so sure about this one in all honesty. I have an interest in things like tarot cards, numerology and astrology, but that's all it is and I don't have a great deal of knowledge. For the past few years I've wanted to go to the Mind Body Spirit Festival in London, but I've never gotten around to actually going. Maybe it's time I did! 

I started a major overhaul on my health during the middle of last year. After being on the pill for more than ten years, I decided to take a break for various reasons, the main being that I'm convinced it doesn't help my depression. Then during the warmer months I was walking up to five miles a day which boosted my fitness for when I started Slimming World at the end of June. Going back to my word of the year, I mentioned in yesterday's post that I intend to become stronger in every aspect of my life. By June I would like to have reached my target weight by continuing eat healthily. I'm also starting Jazz and Yoga classes and would really like to take up running. 

I know some people think that the whole Law of Attraction thing is a load of old tosh, but not me. I might have the totally incorrect understanding of it, but I liken it to karma in a way. You do good and good things happen, you do bad and you had better be prepared for what's coming your way. That's why I hate the saying "karma's a bitch." No, no, no. You reap what you sow. But, and here's the important bit, you've got to have appreciation for what you already have in order to be able to manifest your dreams.

I guess this links to the last card somewhat. Your dreams are not going to come true overnight. There's going to be a lot of hard work to do between now and then. And just to make things a little more tricky, life might throw you some curve balls along the way. That's why you have to have faith that things will happen when they are meant to. "It isn't your job to know how things will unfold; it is simply your job to believe and know that all is well." 

Again I think this relates well to the previous two cards. "Since you attract what you believe, you must improve your perception of the world." This is something I've been working hard on this year and will continue to do so next year. There's an amazing books called Flip It: How To Get The Best Out Of Everything and that really helped me to change the way I look at things.

"This card encourages you to have faith in your ability to teach, because teaching is simply passing on to others information they didn't already know. You probably already do this by sharing the lessons you've learned and the discoveries you've made with your colleagues, family members, children, or friends. So please don't underestimate the importance of what you have to say." My immediate thought when I drew this card was training for Girlguiding, but then I realised that what I would love by October next year is to have my own team running their own Younique businesses and I would love to pass everything that I've learned and will learn on to them.

It's not even January yet and I already have a huge pile of books on my desk to read, a playlist full of audiobooks and podcasts to listen to and some awesome modules to work through to help strengthen my business. Never mind November being the month of Personal Growth. 2017 is the year of Personal Growth! 

They only thing I am surrendering to in December is everything Christmassy! The songs, the decorations, the food and drink. I don't think that's entirely what this card is about, but it's my interpretation! Once December hits, there's very little else on my mind.

So that is my reading for the year ahead. I'm planning to check in on this once a month just to see how things are going and if there's anything I feel I should be focussing on. For now though I'm going to get some sleep so I can enjoy the last day of 2016 tomorrow. Night night  all!

On the Fifth Day of Christmas... I Chose My Word for 2017

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If you've been reading this blog since the beginning then you will know that I am a fan of Leonie Dawson's My Shining Year workbooks (so much so that I am an affiliate for them - you can find out more using the link to the right). One of the tasks in the workbook is to set a word for the year that you can focus on.

2016 was the first time that I actually did this and boy did it work for me. This year's word came by chance when I was on the way home from work and the song 'Glorious Year' by Moulettes came on. For once I listened to the lyrics properly and decided that 2016 could, no, would be my glorious year and from that moment 'GLORIOUS' became my word for the year. 
Within a couple of weeks of the start of 2016, I didn't see how it could possibly become the glorious year that I had hoped for, but this life is what you make it and so it became my mission to turn it around. My word for the year not only inspired the original name of this blog, Tracy's Glorious Year, but also the name for my business. I wanted something catchy and I love a bit of alliteration so I decided to see if my word for the year would help me. Suddenly it was so clear. Gloriously Graceful was born. This year has been one of progress and success for me and I truly believe it's all down to my choice of word. 

Before my workbook even arrived this year, I had an idea about what my word for 2017 might be, but something held me back from putting pen to paper. When I floated the idea around on the workbook's Facebook group, I was momentarily deterred by a comment that it "can reek of judgment". There were suggestions that maybe the conjugation could be altered. Yet I was still drawn to this word. I guess it's similar to when you flip a coin and in that split second that it's in the air, you know what you want the result to be. When I saw the comments, I found myself defending my word. Had I already made my choice without realising it?

The other day I did one of those things on Facebook where different things flash across the screen and you have to take a screenshot to reveal what's in store for you. I know they are silly and are just meant as a bit of fun, but sometimes it really rings true. 
While I don't always rely on my intuition to make decisions, it is something that I trust and with that in mind I am sticking by my gut instinct. My word for 2017 will be 'STRONGER'. This year I have become stronger with regards to both my mental and physical health. My financial situation is stronger than it has even been before. Relationships, old and new, have been strengthened. And next year I can become stronger still, not only in these aspects of my life, but in others too.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas... I Baked a Turkey & Cranberry Ring

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This is one of my favourite Christmas recipes and is fab for using up leftover turkey and other bits you may have hanging around. I first discovered it in a copy of Season's Best when I was a Pampered Chef Consultant and still use it now. The recipe is incredibly versatile and the filling can be adapted to suit what you like or for a different occasion.

The finished ring serves 16 as a appetizer, 8 as a main course or 1 if you're having a Harry Potter marathon and don't want to waste time keep getting up for food!
You will need:
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
225g skinless, boneless cooked turkey
1 stick celery
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
85g sweetened dried cranberries
85g Gruyère cheese
2 packets (240g each) chilled fresh ready-to-bake dough for six croissants
1 egg white
20g walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/Gas 5. Measure mayonnaise, mustard and black pepper into a bowl. Chop turkey, thinly slice celery and finely chop parsley. Add these along with cranberries to bowl. Grate cheese into bowl and mix well.
2. Unroll croissant doll and separate into 12 triangles. Arrange dough triangles in a circle on a backing tray with wide ends of triangles overlapping in centre and pointed ends towards the outside (there should be about 13-cm diameter opening in centre). Gently press the edges of triangles where they meet together to seal.
3. Spoon turkey mixture evenly onto widest end of dough triangles. Bring the points of triangles up over the filling and tuck under wide ends of the dough at centre of ring (filling should not be completely covered).
4. Lightly beat egg white and brush over dough. Sprinkle chopped walnuts over top. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until cooked and deep golden brown.
I'd love to know if you try this out and how you found it. Let me know in the comments below.

On the Third Day of Christmas... I Took Part in the Love Actually Tag

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My friend Katy sent me some questions to answer about one of our favourite films, Love Actually, so here goes. Don't read any further if you haven't watched it as there are loads of spoilers. Go and watch it then and come back. I'll still be here.

1. What is your favourite part of the movie?
So. Many. Awesome. Parts! Any bits where Jamie and Aurelia are trying to communicate with each other. Bill Nighy is a comedy legend! I don’t care if people think the bit with Mark and Juliet is creepy. I think it’s lovely. When Joanna is singing ‘All I Want For Christmas’ and points at Sam and then goes on to point at everyone else. Oh and David dancing to The Pointer Sisters in Number 10. Never not funny!
2. Given the chance, what storyline would you have changed and how?
There are always two points where I just shout, “NOOOOOOOOOOOO” at the screen.

The first is when it looks like Sarah and Karl are finally going to get together and her brother Michael calls. Part of me wishes she hadn’t answered, but the other part of me also thinks that Karl shouldn’t have asked her not to answer it without knowing the full situation. Either way it shouldn’t have stopped them from getting together.

The other is when Harry buys that fucking awful necklace for Mia. Yes, he was wrong and a “classic fool” and I would have made him pay if I were Karen. At the same time though whenever I watch it I think it’s clear he didn’t care about Mia because he didn’t put any thought into her present. He just chose the first thing he saw. Karen’s present meant so much more because he had listened to what she said about Joni Mitchell being one of her all time favourites. I’d much rather have a thoughtful gift like that than a skanky necklace.

I know Katy is going to say that I can only pick one so looking at the way I’ve ranted I think it has to be Karen, Harry and Mia. Leave them alone bitch!

3. What love story would you want for yourself and why?
I am picking this one because it’s my favourite in the film – Daniel and Sam. Daniel has lost his wife. Sam has lost his mother. For whatever reason (we don’t know) Sam’s real father is not around and these two have been left alone together to figure out how they continue with their lives. I love watching how they bond and become a proper father and son. Blood doesn’t make you family.
4. Which situation would you least like to find yourself in?
I don’t know if I could handle being in Sarah’s shoes. Although she tells Karl that her brother is ill, it’s clear that she normally keeps everything very close to her chest. Not even her boss knows the situation so she doesn’t have a support network. She mentions that it’s just her and her brother over her and she must feel so alone. I’ve felt alone surrounded by loved ones, so to feel alone when you really are must be awful.
5. Who is your favourite female character?
Karen. She’s played by Emma Thompson so how can I not. The main reason I love her though is that she is so incredibly strong. Harry is clearly in the wrong and she sees the danger before he does. She forgives him because she loves him, but she doesn’t make it easy for him. I’m sure loads of people would have said she should have dumped his arse, but love isn’t that easy to let go of. I just love her.

6. Who is your favourite male character?
There are so many heart throbs in this film that I can choose so I’m going to pick the male character I enjoyed watching the most – Colin Frissell. He’s so useless that I can’t help but love him. He was still very much in ‘Nick from My Family’ mode in this film which made him even funnier because I didn’t know what he was going to come out with next. He’s rebuffed by so many women, but he never gives up. He’s unwaveringly optimistic. And then when you’re convinced that we’re watching some crazy dream sequence, you realise it isn’t and he’s actually hit the jackpot!
7. What makes you love this film?
The Christmassy feeling, the way the characters seem so real even though some of the stories would clearly never happen, how lots of the characters know each other and just everything!

8. How many times have you watched it?
I have no idea! It came out in 2003 so it must be at least 26 times accounting for once in July and once at Christmas. However it’s probably more than that.

9. What part makes you laugh the most?
Billy Mack’s outburst at the beginning. Every. Single. Time.
10. What part makes you cry the most?
I think it has to be when Karen opens the CD from Harry. When she goes up to her bedroom and cries, I cry with her. I just shout at the screen, “But he actually thought about your present!!!" and then I cry a little more. I just want to hug her and tell her everything will be OK. How dare Snape do that to Trelawney!
Bonus question: Do you think Hugh Grant would make a good Prime Minister?
Not sure about Hugh Grant, but I’m sure David would do a good enough job. I don’t envy the role of Prime Minister at all. It’s such a horrible job to do. Being responsible for a nation? No thanks! In the film David gives a speech that echos what is in the heart of us all, but in reality it wouldn’t have been an option. Having said that when Theresa May congratulated Donald Trump on becoming President and said that Britain and the US "will remain strong and close partners," I immediately wished Hugh Grant were our Prime Minister. I will say that every single Prime Minister gets stick for not keeping their promises, but at the same time you can’t please everyone. At least we don't have Trump!
If you've watched Love Actually then I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. If you haven't, then why are you still reading? I told you to go and watch it!

On the Second Day of Christmas... Katy Chapman Took Over

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26th December... Boxing Day... also know as Katy's birthday!
That's me by the way, Katy, taking over Gloriously Ungraceful for the day!

When Tracy asked me to do this, I was so excited and I knew exactly what to do because what's compulsory on any birthday... CAKE! So that's exactly what we're doing today. Making a birthday cake and all sharing a slice for my 25 years on this planet.

Now, of course I wanted to stick to something that still had that Christmassy feel to it, especially as this is part of Tracy's Twelve Days of Christmas, but also because that's part of the fun of having a birthday so close to Christmas Day. You get to make your birthday feel like a second Christmas Day, dedicated entirely to yourself!

Anyway, the cake I've chosen is actually an adapted version of Mary Berry's Ginger Traybake and is a recipe I've altered perfectly to fit for tray bakes, cupcakes and normal tin bakes. It's so yummy and always brings Christmas to mind and since this post is all about me, might I just add that I have a slight addiction to Gingerbread Men, so this is in fact the perfect recipe for me!

You will need:
112.5g|4oz margarine
87.5g|3oz light brown sugar
50g|1.75oz each black treacle, golden syrup
150g|5oz self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp each ground ginger, mixed spice, all spice
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk

♡ Melt the margarine, sugar, black treacle and golden syrup together in a small pan, on  allow heat, mixing regularly to ensure it doesn't burn.
 Combine the dry ingredient in a large bowl.
 Once slightly cooled, add the melted mix to the dry ingredients.
 Beat your eggs and milk together and combine with the rest of the mixture.
 Mix together until any lumps have gone and the mixture resembles a slightly runnier cake mix.
 Pour into a greased tin of choice (as this is gingerbread, I went for the classic gingerbread man!)

 Bake at 160C for around 30-35 minutes or until the skewer pulls out clean throughout.
 Leave to cool and then decorate.

This really is easy to do and from start to finish, will take you no more than one hour. So happy baking and be sure to let both Tracy and me know what yours turn out like in the comments.

With love, hugs, kisses and special wishes,

From Katy 

On the First Day of Christmas... I Answered Festive Questions

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Merry Christmas Everyone! Today is the first of my 'Twelve Days of Christmas Blogs' and I hope you enjoy it. 25 questions all about Christmas chosen by both Katy Chapman and me and answered by me on here and by Katy on her blog.

1. What was you favourite thing about Christmas as a child?

Helping Mum to make the Christmas cake in the months leading up to Christmas (eating the icing was my favourite bit), doing Christmassy stuff at school, especially the Christmas nativity/show, writing my list to Santa using the Argos catalogue for inspiration, receiving a letter back from Santa (other than my birthday it was the only time I got post with my name on), making paper chains and lanterns (thanks to my Watch With Mother video), putting up the decorations and tree and going to the pantomime at The Orchard Theatre.

2. What is your favourite Christmas memory?

Every year when we went to the pantomime Santa would bring me a special present early. One year we were sitting in the living room waiting to go and I heard a massive thump upstairs. I ran up and on my bed (all wrapped up obviously) was a Playmobil Grande Mansion. Now I’m grown up I know that Santa only delivers on Christmas Eve so I understand that my parents did it somehow, but I don’t know how they made the noise when they were sitting with me. Maybe it was Santa after all…

3. What has been your most memorable present?

A desk that my nan’s neighbour made for me. It was a big with a slanted top and a ridge at the bottom so that my paper wouldn't slide off. The desk top lifted up and had loads of space inside it to put all my pens and paper. I loved it!

4. When do you start to feel like Christmas is on its way?

Usually after my birthday. Yes, you are correct in thinking that I am a July born and that is way too early, but your judgement does not pierce my Christmas candy-made armour. In all seriousness though, Fireworks Night is when I feel I can legitimately start listening to my Christmas playlist, watch Christmas films and TV specials and get my Christmas planner out for the year. Yes, I have a Christmas planner. Judge all you want.

5. Do you have any Christmas traditions, either family ones or your own?

Christmas breakfast at Hazelhurst is always ham and sausage rolls. It was an Evans tradition and so when my dad and step-mum got married, it became a Newbury tradition and I love it so much that if I ever have children, it will become an Abegg tradition too.

6. What would be the top three songs on your Christmas playlist?

Oh, that’s so hard. It changes every year. This year I am loving ‘Thank God It's Christmas' by Queen, ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ by Paper Aeroplanes, and ‘Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer’ by Reel Big Fish.

7. What is your favourite Christmas film?
I want to say Love Actually, but I tend to watch that in the run up to Christmas, so for that pure, magical, Christmas joy then it has to be Miracle on 34th Street. Then again, I do love A Muppet Christmas Carol. Oh, no, wait... DIE HARD!

8. If Christmas were a scent, what would it be?
Any Christmas Yankee Candle. And cinnamon. And mulled wine. And Christmas cake. And gingerbread. Oh, and Zoella's Bake My Day perfume! But thinking back to my childhood when we went Christmas shopping in Bromley, there was always a stall selling roasted chestnuts and whenever I smell that I know Christmas isn’t far away.

9. Celebrations, Miniature Heroes, Quality Street or Roses?
I get my Pampered Chef Trifle Bowl and put a mixture of all of them in for guests (OK, me) to munch on and top them up as and when needed. I also hang Candy Canes around the edge. But for me personally I would happily have a tin full of Roses Strawberry Dreams. 

10. When do you put your Christmas tree up?
Whenever possible Mum and I put up our decorations the first weekend of December. If the first weekend in December is the 6th/7th then I try to push for the last weekend of November. I'd like to put them up five weeks before Christmas when I watch Love Actually and write my cards, but apparently that's too early. Just wait until I have my own house!

11. Do you favour a real tree or a fake one?
Fake because you can use it again and again and it doesn't make a mess, but I do love the smell of a real tree.

12. What are your feelings on tinsel?
It should be law that for the month of December everyone either wears it in their hair or as a belt/scarf/other acceptable fashion accessory.

13. Do you prefer clear or coloured lights?
I like clear lights because I feel they look more sparkly like snow, especially when they are on the tree with white tinsel and they make it sparkle even more.

14. What do you put on top of your tree: an angel or a star?
Star. If I had an angel I’d start worrying about Weeping Angels and I’d be terrified that I’d look at my tree, see it’s missing and turn around and see it standing right behind me.

15. What is your favourite Christmas decoration aside from the tree?
It has to be our Christmas Candle Carousel/Pyramid. Mum got it years ago at a Christmas Market in Munich (possibly Frankfurt) and I just love it. Because we haven't had Christmas at home for a long time, we haven't had reason to get it out. I was determined to have it out this year, but when Mum got the decorations out of the loft she couldn't find it, so I think we need to have a hunt ready for next year.

16. On Christmas Eve do you stay up to hear the sleigh bells or go to bed early so that Christmas comes quicker?
When I first started going down to my dad's for Christmas I would go to Midnight Mass so I would be awake as it became Christmas Day, but since my step-gran passed away we haven't gone so I've returned to going to bed at a reasonable time. And that's not a Christmas thing, it's just a Tracy thing. I love sleep. Going to bed early is like a Christmas present to myself.

17. What is your idea of the perfect Christmas Day?
I'd actually like to start on Christmas Eve if that is OK. Everyone gets to the house late in the afternoon. There would be a Christmas Eve box in the middle of the living room and when we open it there's a pair of Christmas pyjamas for everyone and stocking with everyone's names on. There's also loads of popcorn, sweets and hot chocolate along with a family Christmas film for us to all watch together. As the film is ending we hear singing coming from outside so we put our coats, hats, gloves and scarves on and join the carol singers for a few songs. By now it's getting late and it's time for the children to go to bed. We read The Night Before Christmas to them and their excitement knocks them out for the count. With the children asleep, it's time for the adults to party and we have friends around for a few hours before climbing into bed ourselves. On Christmas morning the children would wake up and open the presents that they’ve found in their stockings. Then they’d wake us all up much too early, but we wouldn’t mind because it would have snowed overnight and it just looks so magical and they are so excited that we forgive them. We’d all have our traditional Christmas breakfast while we're still in our PJs and then go through to the living room and gather in front of the real fire and Christmas tree to open our presents. While we're opening our presents, it starts to snow again and the children go a bit (OK, more than a bit) crazy so we get bundled up in our winter clothes and go outside for a snowball fight. By the time the adults have admitted defeat to the children and we've got changed into warm, dry clothes, it's nearly lunch time. We all sit down to the dinner table and a wondrous feast appears as if by magic on the table (I know it was believable up to this point, but it's my perfect Christmas and during my perfect Christmas no-one has to lift a finger!). We pull the crackers, put on our hats, pocket our gifts for later (it's the perfect Christmas so the things are actually useful/wanted) and we read the abysmal jokes while tucking into the best meal ever. Once we've finished every course the table magically clears itself so that the whole family can enjoy the rest of the day together. The afternoon is spent playing games and listening to music until we decide we are too tired to function and we curl up in the living room to watch a film. It's at this point that I should mention that the sofas would be HUGE and everyone can fit on them comfortably and put their feet up. Some of us inevitably fall asleep and miss the end of the film, but we are all together and have a wonderful day and that's all that really matters.

18. What do you wear on Christmas Day?
I wear something different every year. A few of years ago it was a posh frock, last year it was a grey top, leggings and winter leg warmers with pom-poms. If I'm spending Christmas Day with my niece and nephews then it's got to be something comfy that I can run around in easily. This year I am wearing a dress I got from George at Asda that is covered in Santa hats, holly, candy canes and gingerbread men. I've also got my Mickey and Minnie Christmas jumper on standby in case I get cold because it's fricking awesome and I love it!

19. What's the deal with presents in your house? How, when, from who?
So as I’ve already explained, I used to get a special present from Santa when we went to the pantomime. Then on Christmas morning I’d find a stocking at the end of my bed which had lots of little gifts in. For as long as I can remember I’ve had a Terry’s Chocolate Orange and After Eights in there as well as other little things. Then when we went go downstairs everyone’s presents would be under the tree and we’d all sit and open them together. When I started going down to my dad’s for Christmas I had a pillowcase instead of a stocking for a while, but then I got my stocking back. Everyone else’s presents were still under the tree, but we would have to wait until after breakfast and after the Browns had been come round for Christmas drinkies. Then as we all got older and Santa started to visit other children so we changed the way we did things. Everyone has a pot with their name on and in the run up to Christmas we all put what we want to spend in each other’s pots. We then give my mum and step-mum our Christmas wish lists and they go out and get all the shopping. It works really well because we can either have lots of little presents or one or two big presents.

20. You've just pulled a Christmas cracker and it's the best you've ever had. What gift do you have and what is the joke?
The gift would be a set of marbles because I’m always losing mine and the joke would be ‘What did no-one bid for Rudolf and Blitzen on eBay?’ ‘Because they were two deer!’ Get it? Two deer! It sounds like ‘too dear’! *laughs hysterically with tears rolling down her face and holding her sides to stop them from splitting*

21. What does a typical Christmas dinner mean for you?
Sit down. Swap seats because my niece and nephews decide they want to sit next to me. Swap again because they decide they want to sit next to each other. Pull crackers. Put hats on. Watch my 8-and-10-years-older-than-me brothers make holes in their hats and wear them as superhero masks. Read out bad jokes. Swap cracker gifts. Eat starter. Pile my plate full of turkey, ham, pigs in blankets, roasties, Yorkshire puds, carrots, broccoli, stuffing and gravy. Choose from about three different desserts, my preference being chocolate mousse with After Eights. Drink copious amounts of WKD Blue. Accept the fact I will not be able to move until the New Year.

22. What do you do on Boxing Day?
It depends. With our family we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Day one year and Boxing Day the next and alternate. This is so both my brothers and their families can spend Christmas Day with each family every other year. This year Christmas Day is on Christmas Day (it makes sense to us!) and I don't know what ours plans are for Boxing Day yet. Drink more WKD Blue and watch films? Unfortunately I won't be at home to do parkrun. What. A. Shame.

23. When is Christmas 'over' for you?
I know you don't have to take decorations down until Epiphany, but I like to get up on New Year's Day morning (afternoon if it was a heavy one seeing the previous year off) and take everything down. New Year, New Start. Deep in my heart though, Christmas is NEVER over! 

24. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? No cheating!
Kinda cheating as I bought a copy of The Night Before Christmas recently as I wanted to start reading it to my niece and nephews on Christmas Eve and now that's the only way I can remember it. "Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen! On, Cupid! On, Comet! On, Donner and Blitzen!" Did you know that Donner was originally called Donder? He was according to my copy of the book anyway. Of course, there is also Rudolf who joined the team in modern times when smog became an issue!

25. Do you believe in Santa?
Duh! Of course I do! Are you telling me you don't? Did you not read my story about the Playmobil Grande Mansion?!
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