Christmas was a busy time on the farm. There were lots of calves to feed, lots of cows to milk, and lots of straw and hay to be spread. Unlike Dylan Thomas's memories of Christmas in Wales, we rarely had snow. What we did have was mud: lots of mud. We squelched through it in the farmyard, trudged through it in the fields and tried to scrape it off our boots at the back door. All the usual chores were that bit harder because of the weather, but that didn't detract from the excitement of the season.

There are many traditions associated with Christmas in England and Wales. The ones I remember most clearly involve food and music. Mince pies were made using Granny's 'good' pastry recipe - with real butter and icing sugar, and Mummy always made a wonderfully rich fruit cake - a family favourite - which was absolutely not to be touched until Christmas afternoon, after the Queen's speech.

These tasks were often done while listening to Christmas tunes on the radio. Feasting didn't start until Christmas Eve, when we would be allowed to eat nuts and sweets as we wrote our letters to Father Christmas, which would then be burned and sent up the chimney. Daddy peeled the chestnuts for the stuffing and prepared the sprouts (not forgetting the little crosses in the bottom so they'd cook properly). Because the running of the farm had to take precedence over Christmas preparations, there were years when we were still trimming the tree and icing the cake on Christmas Eve.

After the Disney movie it was off to bed, hanging our stockings at the foot of our bed - a British tradition. In the morning, we would always find an orange, some nuts, chocolate and a sugar mouse in our stockings, along with little toys and a comic book. These kept us going until we were allowed to get up for breakfast.

Turkey was a must for Christmas Day, following which it was a running battle to keep the cat out of the pantry, as she was particularly partial to poultry. The turkey was always nice and big, to allow for plenty of leftovers. We all loved the meals of turkey with mashed potato and chutney, and the sandwiches. We never ate turkey on Boxing Day though. That was the day we met with my aunt, uncle and cousins, and Daddy would make sure we had a really good piece of roast beef that day. This was followed by blackberry & apple pie, made from fruit picked in the autumn and kept for special winter meals.

Music and food combined at the Carol Service. This was the traditional service of the twelve lessons, interspersed with carols, which usually took place on the Sunday evening nearest Christmas. Norman churches in rural England are not well heated, so we were always happy to get home to warm mince pies. In Wolvesnewton, where my parents now live, the parish has been adjourning to Cwrt-y-Gaer for sherry and mince pies after the Carol Service for longer than anyone can remember.

When they first moved in, my parents were asked if they would be willing to continue this tradition, which they are very happy to do. Other people bring mince pies too, which are enjoyed with sherry, mulled wine or coffee. When I was younger, this was the main Christmas service. Growing up in a small, rural community, there were not enough children to have a Sunday school, so there wasn't a pageant.

When my oldest son was a little boy we attended a vibrant Anglican church in Derbyshire which had a thriving Sunday school so there was a pageant, which was great fun. The other main family service at this church was on Christmas morning. The children were encouraged to bring one of their new (quiet) toys and the exchanging of the Peace was extra, extra long, to give the children time to show everyone their presents and the adults to exchange Christmas hugs and blessings.

As a child, I longed to attend the midnight service on Christmas Eve. I first got to go when I was fourteen. My father didn't attend this service because he always had to be up even earlier than usual at Christmas, so that he and our herdsman could get everything done as early as possible, in order to enjoy as much of Christmas Day in leisure as they could. My younger sister was too tired, so it was just my mother and me. Over the years this has become one of my favourite services. There is something very special about celebrating the birth of Christ and then coming home in the quiet of the "dark, sacred night". And I think to myself; what a wonderful world.