The Alternative Christmas List…(I’m really not after the Miss World title)

Its around this time of year that people start to ask me to compile my Christmas list.

I’m by no means a saint (far from it)  but I always tell them that I’m not bothered; to buy me whatever and to not spend a fortune?

When I was a kid I would  spend hours upon hours dribbling over toys from Kays catalogue making lists galore. Lists on top of lists. Now a days its not so important.

I’ve found recently that Christmas has been about a lot more than just pressies. Of course its always nice to unwrap something special but it’s not the be all and end all.

Christmas was and still is magical . I have the foundest memories of Christmas as a child, and now as an adult.

When we were kids Grandad Clarke would usually be left in charge of babysitting duties on Christmas Eve.

He was my hero. A wonderful yet very quiet man. I remember he always dressed immaculately in a suit and tie.

I would pull a ‘big chair’ up and sit next to him. Enjoy his company, the smell from his pipe, laugh when he laughed and our limited but precious conversation.

My little brother Mark and I would be allowed to stay up well past our bedtimes, until midnight! Grandad would let us join him in  a tiny glass of his favourite tipple -Sherry  -before ushering us upstairs to bed. Boy did we feel grown up!

Christmas morning always started with a full English, cooked by dad. He makes the best breakfast…everything was fried, even the baked beans. Marvellous, and yes terribly unhealthy!

In my early twenties these were a god-send for soaking up the alcohol from a day and night spent partying the previous day .

The legendary Henrys Bar had a lot to  answer for…

It was the place my friends and I would excitedly gather every Christmas Eve lunch for celebration drinks.

Seemingly half the population of Sheffield did the same. It was crammed to the rafters, hot, so noisy you couldn’t hear yourself speak … and absolutely fabulous.

It could get riotous at times , with us dancing on the bar, the tables , even in the water fountain.

Some men we ‘used to hang around with’ would often bring shaving foam and  when we were suitably ‘squiffy’ would foam us! Not the greatest look , ‘Alice-cooper esq’ eyes, and it played a bugger with your hair. It was so bloody sticky and awfully itchy. I once welcomed Christmas in with the rash of all rashes all over my face!

One year the shaving foam got swapped for Immac hair remover and some girl lost half her hair… I remember watching in horror as clumps of her beautiful brunette bob came away in her hands. Her Christmas most definitely ruined.

Foam was rightly banned from that day on and it was obviously never the same again in Henrys. Somebody always has to go to far and spoil things don’t they?

Yes … there have been some quite awful Christmas Day ‘alcohol related’ mornings! …with threats from Mum that  “you had better eat your Christmas lunch . I’m not going to all this trouble for nothing… ” 

This was normally  followed by pressie giving and receiving … and of course I always ate my lunch.

The smell from Grandad’s pipe smoke would waft around the house, mixing with that of parma violet (grans scent) turkey cooking nicely and warm mince pies.

Laughter … I remember there was always lots of laughter… and enough Quality Street to chuck your hat at.

Grandma who insisted she no longer drank alcohol would sit in dads arm chair like ‘Lady Muck’ and make her way steadily through a bottle of Baileys …in coffee … because apparently that didn’t count?

I do miss her and her stories.

The very same stories she revisited more or less every time I saw her .I never got tired of listening to them. The way her face and eyes would light up when she told me about Mouse Island and her Greek love affair were priceless…

christmas 24.jpg


Every year ( and still to this day) around noon on Christmas Day the men (dad, brother and both grandads) would make their way to the local pub , leaving the ladies chatting, drinking Martinis and preparing lunch.

I’ve never been one to follow the ‘rules  ‘and from the age of 15 (encouraged by my mum I might add) I have joined the men in the pub. I love men’s banter and I was the first honouree female allowed in ‘Perverts Corner ‘ but I’ll tell you about that another time.

Sadly Grandad Clarke, Nanan Clarke and Grandma Herring are no longer with us  ( not in body anyway but always in spirit ) and Christmas has never really felt the same since.

Don’t get me wrong Christmas is still great but it’s also very different to back then.

On a positive  ‘times are a changing – get the women out of the kitchen’ note mum now joins us for an hour in the pub Christmas Day and has a few cheeky tipples leaving everything to cook nicely back at home.

Cancer has made her many things but it’s also given her a ‘if it burns it burns’ attitude.

To date it has never burnt. In all honestly it’s  never anything other than delicious.

For me it’s these little things that make Christmas…

the memories, the people, the smells, the food, and the feelings you experience when you spend time with your nearest and dearest friends and family.

Without sounding like I’m auditioning for ‘Miss chuffing World‘ here’s what I’d really like this Christmas… and yes world peace would be one of them!

Here’s my Alterative Christmas Wish List 

 A cure for cancer. (I’ll start with the biggy) This disease plagues me. I detest it. I hate the word and what it does to people. It took my nanan (stomach cancer) and has recently affected two of the most precious people in my life.

That Mollie the dog could:

A.) take herself for a walk – these cold mornings are a killer and I’m forever sporting frizzy hair

B.) that she could clear up her own poop, it makes me heave . I’ve never fully recovered from getting poo stuck down the tip of a false nail!

C.) most importantly that she could talk. Our one-way conversations are very frustrating..

That chocolate wasn’t fattening and it was perfectly acceptable to eat it for breakfast.

I was reading the other day about toilets. Yes really … toilets. Can you imagine not having the basic luxury of being able to use one? Nope in this day and age neither could I but in some parts of the world people still don’t have access to a safe working toilet! The charity Tearfund are proposing to change this by ‘Toilet Twinning’ Read about it here but what a wonderful gift to give someone… the use of a toilet. (That is something I never thought I’d ever write)

To be spot-free for the rest of my life and any scarring I have miraculously  disappear!

A life-time supply of Super Plus Tampax. I go through loads, spend a small fortune and I never have any around when I start my period!

That chocolate wasn’t fattening and it was perfectly acceptable to eat it for dinner.

Remember Girls World? … a mannequin head for little girls to practise their make-up skills on. You used to pull the hair out of the top of her head and style it. I want that facility. How bloody handy would that be? You want longer hair … just pull it out from your head.  It would save a lot of pain growing out my on / off fringe!

For ladies weekends away to be compulsory like Bank Holidays and also to be paid for by the government. There is no better way to spend a weekend than bonding with great mates over cocktails and giggles. It could be filed under team-building, and I’m big on that.

That there was a size 13 in clothes? Sometimes a 12 is slightly too tight ( dam you chocolate induced hips!) and a 14 too big… on occasion I find with trousers that the fabric puckers up around the front and it looks like I’ve got a little willy? I don’t. I’m Tracey, not Trevor.

That chocolate wasn’t fattening and it was perfectly acceptable to eat it for tea.


I could go on – rehouse the homeless, look after the elderly, protect endangered species … but I’ll leave it there. I really don’t have my sights on the Miss World title.

Like everybody else  I love giving gifts as much as I love receiving them but like I said earlier it doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive. The mere fact you ‘thought and bought it’ for me is enough ..

I might not remember what you bought me a few years ago (and vice versa) but I will always remember the feeling I got when I received it.

Loved.Blessed.Appreciated… but mostly  just loved.

Lastly and joking apart I’d swap it all to have just one thing…

Just one Christmas wish

A healthy and happy mum.

Now that … that would be the greatest Christmas present ever.

Until next time, Tracey x

I’ve shared just a few memories below …




Enjoying Christmas Afternoon Tea at Chatsworth House.







Linking up with #BrilliantBlogPosts via

Linking up with #saturdaysharelinkup NotDressedasLamb

This Mum's Life



30 thoughts on “The Alternative Christmas List…(I’m really not after the Miss World title)

  1. josie1bee says:

    Lovely memories 😀
    You last wish brought a tear to my eye, having lost both mum and dad…..what I would give for another day 😥
    On a lighter note, love your hair on the photo of you with your grandma
    Joanne X

    • lizandtracey says:

      Thankyou Joanne,
      I’m so sorry to hear about your parents, I can imagine Christmas must be quite tough. I’m sure they are watching and looking down on you.
      I really appreciate you reading
      Tracey xx

    • Robert Ash says:

      Lovely read Tracey 👏🏻👏🏻 . It reminds me of my xmas , so many great memories!! Many of them exactly the same as yours i.e. Laughter, Henry’s and struggling to eat my xmas dinner 😂😂. My mum has just been diagnosed with spleen cancer 😪😪so my wish is the same as yours ❤️Take care and have a super xmas with your family xx
      Bob Ash

      • lizandtracey says:

        Thank you for reading … and for taking the time to comment. I do miss the Henry days they were so funny.
        So sorry to hear about your mum I’m sending lots of positive thoughts and a big hug your way. Wishing you a very happy Christmas with your family & fruends too , Tracey xx

  2. Natasha Holland says:

    I love your Xmas list & pics – i would also love for the Poppy to be able to talk although you can always tell what she’s thinking , she’s like me … An open book & no poker face !!
    I also remember the girl with immac’d hair gate … I facts as soon as you mentioned Henry’s at Xmas … It was my first thought too !
    My Xmas trees are going up next wk 🎄🎄🎄 eeeek so giddy
    Hope to see you at some point soon
    Lots of love to you & yours
    Natasha Xxxx

    • lizandtracey says:

      Hey up lovely , Thankyou for reading and taking the time to comment.
      Poppy is adorable…I never thought I’d say it but I love a dog. Mollie has totally touched my heart. Funny little things aren’t they?
      The Immac episode was just awful , I can remember us all panicking and checking our hair was ok… poor girl.
      I’ll look forward to the piccies of your tree over on Facebook. I know it’s nearly Christmas when your tree comes out.
      Right back at you Natasha and hope to bump into you over Christmas xxx

  3. carterfamily4 says:

    A very heart warming Christmas list Tracey the Henry’s bar sounds like a “fun” place. I love your discription of your grandparents and made me think about my own grandparents who have also passed but they really did make Christmas. I remember my Grandma Foster ( i never called her by her first name ) my mum’s mum. She used come and stay over on Christmas Eve and I always used to try and catch a glimpse of her without her false teeth in. It’s funny the things you remember and my grandad making me a snowball. These are fond memories we all should treasure. I hope my kids have the same memories from their grandparents as thwy get older. Your post was very heart felt and made laugh smile and cry all at the same time. Xxxxxx lots of love and it may be only November but Merry Christmas beautiful lady xxxxx

  4. lizandtracey says:

    Awww Thankyou lovely what a lovely comment … you’ve made me fill up.
    The comment about trying to see your grandma without her teeth in made me chuckle. The things we remember !
    I’m sure your children will have the same sort of memories. You look like a really close family and you do loads with them.
    Very early Happy Christmas to you too but I’m sure we’ll ‘chat’ before then.
    Thankyou for reading and taking the time to comment it means a lot , Tracey xxx

  5. Beany says:

    I”m not sure I’ll recover from the “poo down a false nail” either!! Small dogs do small poo’s… #justsaying!!

    Lovely wish list 👌🏻☺️

  6. Vicki Smith says:

    I have just read your blog after a tearful conversation with my 9 year old daughter. This year will be the first year that I will be working on Christmas Day 12 hours. I am a theatre nurse at Leeds General Infirmary.
    Don’t get me wrong I have worked Christmas Eve, Christmas Day night and all of New Year in the past. However, this year it feels different . My daughter amazes me….after talking her through it all it appeared all she was upset about was that I wouldn’t be ok with it (really I’m not but I wouldn’t tell her that) and that I would be upset and that I wanted her to wait to open gifts!
    My Christmas wish is for everyone to be happy, healthy and safe over Christmas and for all the NHS staff working over the festive period to be thought about a little bit!
    Merry Christmas!
    Love the Blog
    Vicki x

    • lizandtracey says:

      Morning Vicki, your messsage just brought a tear to my eye!
      Your daughter sounds like an amazing little girl and I’m sure you’ll have an amazing Christmas , just maybe a little delayed.
      You / The NHS do an amazing job, the guys who looked after and are still looking after mum whose currently await another little op at the Northern General are just fabulous. I think people do forget that life goes on and that nurses /doctors / surgeons have to work no matter what the date. I wish you a Very Merry Christmas and thankyou for your comment / reading , Tracey xx

  7. Sue says:

    Lovely and from the heart!
    I feel so privileged to have spent many of the said Christmas Eve’s with you in Henry’s and will have to find the alternative this year! We are the last ones standing with this tradition in our crew!
    Also love the girly weekends, New Years resolution early – get at least one in the diary .
    Love you xx

  8. RetroChicMama says:

    Tracey you bugger you just made me cry at the end!
    Lovely post mate & thank you for introducing me to toilet twinning. I just read about it on their sire from your link. What a brilliant idea! I’m going to twin my toilet just for fun – not for Christmas 😉
    I wish your Mum to be healthy too but listen, I’d give anything to have had a relationship like that with my Mum. You’re a lucky lady xxx

    • lizandtracey says:

      Hello lovely lady, firstly thank-you for reading & secondly sorry for making you cry !
      I’ve mentioned toilet twinning to the BF and I think it’s something we are going to do in the new year also. Such a wonderful gift to give somebody. ( unless he surprises me and has already done it?)
      Mum’s recently ( yesterday) come out hospital after another little op and she seems ok . We met them for breakfast earlier . I’m feeling really blessed that she’s ok and looking forward to Christmas. She is one special lady and I am very lucky. Thanks again for taking the time to comment , Tracey xxx

  9. Louise says:

    I sat and read this having my morning cuppa before dropping my little boy off at his morning club. I was in floods of tears! What a really heart felt post. It took me back to how amazing my grandad was always looking after his grandchildren. I always find it heart wrenching listening to stories of people losing parents, and people going through cancer battles with their parents. I lost my mum and dad at 17 and 18. Left a huge hole, that can never be filled, but this story is so lovely and sad too. Listening to lovely memories though made my heart sing so keep sharing these lovely stories X X

    • lizandtracey says:

      Morning Louise ,
      Thankyou so much for taking the time to read and comment. (I love reading them all.)
      Sorry to hear that you lost both your parents, my mum lost both hers at a young age too and often tells me it’s something you never get over, it just gets easier.
      I think Christmas is a time when people reflect.I know it certainly gets me thinking. I wasn’t going to post this when I first wrote it but I’m glad I did now.
      It’s maybe a bit early yet but have a very Happy Christmas and a lovely day xx

  10. justsayingmum says:

    Oh what a wonderful story of a post. I love the way you write – you totally drew me in. I love your trip down memory lane and the traditions that have been kept and the people you mention along the way. Christmas really does make you reflect doesn’t it? I love the chocolate mentions – I’m so with you. I hope more than anything that your wish for your mum comes true, I really, really do xx #BigPinkLink

  11. Accidental Hipster Mum says:

    This is heartbreaking. I love how you’ve included family that are no longer with us and I completely understand how you feel, wishing for your mum to be healthy. I miss my dad and your warm family post brought a tear to my eye. Also, don’t worry, you didn’t depress me, I wholeheartedly want to never have a spot again or to gain any more weight fro chocoloate.

    (also I’m on my log in for my main blog but my second blog actually took part in #thebigpinklink, I’m just a dunce and can’t change it!) x

  12. teacuptoria says:

    This is such a lovely post. I feel very nostalgic about my Christmas’ too. I have such happy memories and unfortunately the future doesn’t always live up to our past ideals. So sorry to hear about your mum, I’m glad she’s going to the pub these days. Have a gorgeous Christmas. Tor xx #POCoLo

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