A collection of our holiday traditions, all wrapped up!

Martin Osler

Martin Osler

Chief People Officer

15 December 2021

Our team at Johnston Carmichael is made up of over 800 people, each with different perspectives, beliefs and faiths. Whether or not Christmas is a big celebration for us, when it comes to the holiday period we all have our own unique traditions - and this year, we're shining a light on the little joys that make this time of year special! Members of our team from across the firm have shared their stories of how they spend the holiday period and what their favourite traditions are.

Martin Osler, Chief People Officer

“I am fortunate to enjoy warm memories of Christmas as a child. The older I get those memories seem to travel back to me more frequently through sounds, smells and tastes of this time of year. Turkey is a non-negotiable for me on Christmas Day. Is it a tasty eat? Probably not in my top five, but tradition is important in our family. Bread sauce I do love. My Mum always made this and it is one of those things that brings back fond memories. Chestnuts is another. I tried roasting them, not on an open fire but in the oven of our new house shortly after my wife and I got married. On Christmas morning, delicious smells wafting all around, I took them out and they exploded…everywhere. I dragooned my Mother-in-law to help me clean up the kitchen which we did fairly quickly. Sitting back to catch my breath, sparkling surfaces all around, I looked up at the ceiling which to my horror was pebble-dashed with chestnut!”

Dawn Young, Digital Marketing Manager

“In our house, my little girl always gets to open one present on Christmas Eve (which *spoiler alert* is always new PJs, a selection box and a build your own gingerbread house), and I love that we spend the evening in our Christmas pyjamas, eating the chocolate together in front of a Christmas movie and building the house together. It’s my favourite tradition and I will be gutted when she gets too old to want to do it anymore! Just before bed, we read The Night Before Christmas – making us even more festive and super excited."

Mehvish Ali, Consulting Senior

“Waking up on Christmas Day to a quiet London is always special – it’s the only time in the entire year that happens! As a family, we always have a roast dinner. And we end our day with our favourite Christmas tradition, watching the Eastenders special together. 

As a practising Muslim, Eid holidays hold more sentimental value in my life. They happen twice a year, for different reasons. But the common theme is spending time with family, gift giving and lots of food (not that different to Christmas…!). I’d start my morning with going to a congregational prayer with a friend, and count our blessings for seeing another Eid. It is customary to wear new clothes for Eid as it is a day of celebration so when I get home, I typically make an effort with my outfit. We then spend some time making traditional Pakistani dishes. Family and friends will visit throughout the day, and we’ll exchange gifts and catch up.”

Charissa Gracie, Business Advisory Senior Manager

“For me, Christmas is all about spending time with loved ones, taking a well-deserved break, watching some new and old movies, and donning a Christmas jumper. I’ve accumulated a collection of Christmas jumpers so start wearing them from 1 December right through to New Year. I love anything sparkly and most Christmas jumpers specialise in sparkle! I really enjoy cooking and the holiday period is a great excuse for eating some uber-fancy meals. Plus, you get the added bonus of, “one for you, one for the chef...”.”

Amy MacLeod, Administrator

“Christmas is one of the few times in the year that my family are all together in one room. My brothers and I are based in Central Scotland, whereas my parents live in the West Coast of Scotland on the island where I grew up. For as long as I can remember my mum has bought us a new board game every Christmas, so after dinner we will play the new board game of the year! Boxing Day is something which I always look forward to. I meet up with my school friends and have a good catch up. We’ve done this every year since we all moved away for university/work and have carried on the tradition to this day. It’s really lovely that no matter the distance, we make the effort to see each other.”

Michael McAllister, Director and Head of Payroll

"My favourite thing about the holiday period is that everyone does stop to reflect and ‘take a break’ – it’s the only time of year that you can do this. My decorations go up early December and are usually down by early January, though I will admit that one year the tree was still up in February! Our family Christmas dinner is a casual-dress affair, and we open gifts before a turkey and ham Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. Pigs in blankets and bread sauce are a must, but I absolutely detest gravy. Then, of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without the traditional bitter family game of Monopoly (and turkey for a week post-Christmas Day!)"

Julia Reid, Business Advisory Senior Manager

“It’s not Christmas until you’ve seen the Coca-Cola Christmas advert on TV - the familiar sounds of the jingling sleigh-bells and the chiming of the church bells, it really does make you feel like the holidays are coming! Controversially, one of my favourite Christmas films is “Die Hard” - I know, some might say that it’s not a traditional Christmas film but it’s a tradition in our house. I was never really a Christmas person before I had my son but now I absolutely love it, watching the magic of Christmas through his eyes is just wonderful – so special!”

Sonya Winters, Executive Assistant, Wealth

“The Christmas period for me means spending quality time with people I love, be that at home or abroad with my eldest son whenever possible. As the big day is also my younger son’s birthday it’s a doubly exciting time and the build-up is quite intense, starting on 1 December with an advent calendar for both Christmas and birthday countdowns! Whether in the sun or the snow, the day itself is always filled with heavenly food, plenty to drink, happy faces opening presents, playing board games, watching Christmas movies, and just enjoying our time together.”

Rhiannon McCabe, Finance Assistant Manager

“In our home, Christmas traditionally begins after my eldest daughter’s birthday (on 5 December) has passed. The buzz continues right through with a couple more birthdays and an anniversary, with Hogmanay being the pinnacle! Usually, family and friends will gather at my parents’ house for the amazing home-made broth my dad will have made, and a few drams to bring in the bells. It definitely feels like a very Scottish tradition! Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be me and my three girls, in our new pyjamas, watching films, opening gifts first thing in the morning, before heading to my parents' in the afternoon for more gift exchanging. My younger two daughters then head of to spend the rest of the day with their dad, and myself, my eldest and my parents settle down for a turkey dinner from the family restaurant and catch-up on the soaps."

Samuel Church, Financial Services Consulting Director

“Christmas to me, is about going back to Leicestershire to spend a couple of weeks with mine and my wife’s families. I have younger brothers (16 and 18), so it is great to spend more than a couple of days with them. It wouldn’t be Christmas without sherry, pigs in blankets (or as they’re commonly known North of the border, kilted sausages), more stuffing than one person can humanly eat, and visiting four houses in one day – albeit COVID put paid to that last year. I also really look forward to watching The Grinch with my sister whilst we wrap presents. It’s great to have a festive tradition, even if it means you’re wrapping presents late into the night on Christmas Eve!"

Paula Davidson, Client Care Manager, Wealth

“Christmas is more than one day, it's the whole lead up to that day. The pre-Christmas movies, all snuggled up on the sofa with popcorn and dimmed lights, the picking of the Christmas tree in the forest, the smell of that tree throughout the house - but more importantly, having the time to spend with family and friends. Proper quality time where there's no real plans, just long dog walks, lots of fun and plenty to eat and drink. Popping in and out of one another's homes, playing in the snow and due to my inherited "new" family, the excitement of Santa and Santa letters, all over again... I love it and cannot wait.”

Dale Kelly, Senior Payroll Advisor

“There’s always a very happy, positive buzz around Christmas and it’s great to see everyone enjoying themselves during the festive period. I always spend Christmas with my mum and sister as well as the dogs Daisy and Maisie, and I like to spend post-Christmas and New Year back in Ireland seeing my family there. One year I’d love to go to New York for the holidays! My favourite part of Christmas dinner is my mum’s roasties – they’re unbelievable. I’m also partial to a Baileys, though I would highly recommend Coole Swan as an alternative. My must-watch Christmas movies are Home Alone or Jingle All The Way – very common I know, but classics for a reason.”

Zabe Ashiq, Risk Advisory Services Director

"Christmas has always been hugely memorable for me. Our whole family have always been big foodies (you can blame my dad for having a restaurant when we were kids) so all our wonderful memories over the years always seem to involve food. This year our festive plans are slightly different - we are hoping to be back in Dubai with my wife Sana’s family. Christmas in the sun and the sand will be a new experience for me but there will be multiple sets of young kids there, so that’ll make it even more fun. Given the wide variety of halal food on offer in Dubai, I’m sure we will end up feasting quite heavily on the big day!

The key for me is ensuring you give yourself the time and space to spend quality time with loved ones. It’s been so hard to do that, not only because of due to the challenges we’ve all faced recently, but also as we grow older; sometimes it’s too easy to let life get in the way. It’s important to mentally unplug and actually remember what the most important things are in life for you. Whatever you do and whoever you do it with, I wish you all a happy holiday full of blessing and festive cheer!!!"

For more festive fun, head over to our Instagram page to read the full stories from each of our people above.

Happy holidays!

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