Festive Feature: Angela Britnell


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Welcome to a very special Festive Feature on my blog, where every day up until Christmas some of my favourite authors will be sharing what they love most about the festive season, including their favourite films, food, music, presents, memories, books…Plus much more!

The first week of December has almost whizzed by already, so as Christmas creeps ever closer here’s the fabulous Angela Britnell telling us what she loves most about this time of year…

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YOU OPEN YOUR PRESENTS WHEN?!!!!!

Thirty two years ago my then-fiancé asked me that question and was shocked when I said he’d heard me correctly in the first place. We’d worked our way through various cross-cultural English/American differences already but this would be our first Christmas together and proved a real eye-opener. Every family has its own Christmas traditions building memories along the way and mine was no exception. Richard and I were going to spend Christmas with my parents in Cornwall and wanted to know all about our holiday rituals. That way he might not be too confused – probably remembering our misunderstanding over the word squash – he was offering me a vegetable and I thought I was getting a fruit drink!

I started off saying we’d go to church at midnight although might’ve forgotten to mention the fact the church is over 700 years old, made of granite and usually cold. Let’s just say he didn’t take off the heavy wool coat and fur hat he’d thankfully packed. Stockings by our beds first thing in the morning were the same, but he was surprised when the gifts were wrapped and all small things. In his family gifts brought by Santa were always unwrapped and big presents appeared as well. They would then immediately open the rest of their presents from family and friends so everything was done by mid-morning. When I said this sounded odd to me he asked the pertinent question whose answer would bemuse him then and still makes him shake his head now.

‘So when do you get your bigger presents?’

Before I tell you the answer let me explain I’m an only child and my parents had the idea of making the fun last as long as possible. I didn’t realise for a long time that other people might   consider us strange. When I was little we’d go to church on Christmas morning, only changing to the midnight service when I was old enough to stay awake. We’d come home and have a traditional lunch around one o’clock. There were a lot of differences in the menu with Richard’s usual lunch but that’s a story for another day! After our meal we’d clear up and just before three o’clock we’d make tea and get out a fancy tin of chocolate biscuits before turning the television on for the Queen’s speech. I would impatiently listen and will her to hurry up because only then did we start to open our main presents.

Richard thought it was little short of child cruelty to make me wait until the middle of the afternoon but to me it was normal. Needless to say when we started to have our own children it was one of the few times my dear husband put his foot down. ‘They are not waiting until the day is half over to get their presents.’ I agreed but deep down it always seemed rushed and left me with a flat feeling of nothing else to look forward to the rest of the day.

I could’ve chosen so many different memories connected to Christmas to talk about from making mince pies with my mother and tasting my first sherry as we baked, to my favourite carols and intense dislike of sentimental Christmas songs. My Christmas memories, like everyone else’s, are special because they’re uniquely mine and what link me forever with the people who shared them with me. Merry Christmas everyone!

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Many, many thanks to Angela for contributing to my Festive Feature.


Celtic Love KnotAngela grew up in Cornwall and returns frequently from her new home in Tennessee to visit family and friends. A lifelong love of reading turned into a passion for writing contemporary romance. Her novels are usually set in places she’s visited or lived on her extensive travels.

Angela Britnell   | Website  | Twitter  | Facebook  |

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15 thoughts on “Festive Feature: Angela Britnell

  1. We also wait until late in the day to open our gifts, Angela. We don’t finish Christmas Dinner till about 4pm, and then we clear everything up, have a cup of tea and a piece of Christmas Cake, and then open our presents. As I’m usually the hostess, I love it that we keep to that tradition, started by my mother, as by the time we open the gifts, the real hard work of the day is over and I can relax.

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  2. You’re not odd Angela! Well, not regarding Christmas traditions anyway…in my family, my five kids always open their Christmas stocking presents first then have other presents spread out through the day too! It keeps the fun going (although, when they were younger it did mean that every five minutes I’d get ‘is it time to open another present now?’) Last presents are opened just before bed. Otherwise, Christmas would all be over within half an hour and there’d be nothing to look forward to apart from my random culinary attempts and the Doctor Who special, would there?

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    • I’m glad you added the caveat about my oddness or not Jane! It still makes total sense to me but my husband’s view is that then the kids had the whole day to play with their new presents. I’m sure your random culinary attempts are always a hit but I’ll pass on Doctor Who – still have a fear of Daleks!

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  3. Lovely to read about your Christmas traditions, Angela! We spread our presents out through the day too. Having said that, I’ve occasionally caught myself urging my children to open their presents because I can’t wait to find out what they are… Must try to curb that this year!

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    • Maybe it’s more of an English tradition than I realized although I don’t remember any of my friends growing up waiting that long!

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  4. I’m an only child too, as is my son. We’ve always had morning stockings and morning gifts. Like your husband says, it means the rest of the day is free for playing with them! But I am a very impatient person and would probably drive everyone mad if I had to wait!

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  5. Christmas rituals eh? Thanks for sharing your insightful thoughts Angela. Very thought provoking;

    When you grow up, get married and have children there is a lovely opportunity to a) recreate the stuff you remember fondly from childhood and b) create your own, new traditions which will hopefully be the ones your own children will, in turn, remember fondly one day.

    Our big rule is that we don’t put the children in the car and go zooming from one set of relatives to another all day, which is a really easy trap to fall into. There is always the gap between Christmas and New Year to do that. That said, EVERYone is welcome to come and join us on Christmas day… can’t wait for this year.

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    • Your rule about car trips is a good one. I had a friend who every year piled their kids in the car as soon as they’d opened their stockings to drive hours to visit family – mad! With moving a lots when my boys were young we didn’t get in a set routine so that proved to be good later on.

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  6. We open our present later in the day, too, Angela for all the reasons above. We do have the Christmas morning stocking tradition, however. Unfortunately, Santa didn’t often remember mine. *sniffle*. Last year had five stockings! One from my partner, one from my son and one each from the dogs: baby bootees. How cute was that. 🙂 xx

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