It is Christmas Eve. The tree lights are no longer on. I pull the duvet tighter around my ears when the air is cold. I hear the door handle click as I drift off to sleep. I squeezed my eyes shut and froze. At the end of the bed, a rustle is heard. I woke up the next morning and found a stocking with treats in it. A bag of chocolate coins that I tear into is among the little gifts. My first stocking was this one. I was young at that time.

It was my mother-in-law who thought of sneaking into the room of a young adult when I was a child. She is named Snezana because she is Snow White in Serbian. She was born in the UK. She told the story of how she saw a spark between my husband and I and was convinced that I would be his wife. It was important for her to knit me into the tapestry of her family as she saw each new family member as a gift. She takes great joy in making this time of year so special.

Christmas was something I experienced when I was a child in the 90s. It was not something we would use. We didn't engage in the festivities because my family thought it was a religious event. There was Christmas on TV. It happened on a long walk home from school when the world was rendered greyscale by the winter. There was tinsel at the bottom of my bag.

The next morning, I woke to find my first stocking. I was 19 years old

I felt a hot stone in my stomach when I first heard of Fomo. I didn't need to be told that Santa wasn't real. Being a good girl and wishing very hard did not result in a visit from the big guy. My dad took my brothers and I to Toys R Us late on Christmas Eve when I was 9 years old.

While Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses played over the store speakers, we tore down the too-bright aisles in our PJs. On the drive back, we sat silently sucking on the blackcurrant cough sweets my dad used to let us have as a treat in the car, or on this occasion, given to us from the tumultuous row that took place between my parents just before he bundled us into the car. The Christmas shopping trip wasn't normal. The rows weren't much. The fruit still tastes like Christmas Eve.

The house on the council estate where I grew up was so far away from Father Christmas that it was hard to tell it was there. The book was brought to life via video cassette when I was in primary school, and I couldn't help but enjoy it. I couldn't make sense of why I shouldn't be allowed to have something of this joy for myself when I saw that what I saw was not in line with my belief system. I want to have a roast lunch, a tree and snow when I grow up.

Now that I am an adult with a family of my own, my attitude and relationship towards faith has changed and is more inclusive. The royal family is the only people I know who attend a church service on Christmas morning.

When I was nine, my dad caught my brothers and me offguard and took us to Toys R Us late on Christmas Eve

I don't feel the pressure to see all my family on the same day because I grew up in the without festive obligations. Being with loved ones during the festive season is a blessing, not an obligation, and so we meet up with our extended family during the Christmas holidays, but spend the day alone, just the four of us.

The realities of returning to the childhood home as an adult, perhaps with your own family in tow, and the hilarity of some of the sleeping arrangements when space is tight are summed up by scrolling the #duvetknowitschristmas hashtags. There is a sleeping bag in the cupboard.

Many of my children's festive firsts are my own, which is a positive side-effect of not celebrating Christmas as a child. He wanted my husband and I to have a real tree when we had a child. I didn't feel right. I always wanted a real tree, but was concerned about the environment. Even though I knew my mother wouldn't like it, a real tree was the boldest way to engage with the season. Blending traditions and having our children experience aspects from both our background was important to me.

Islam observes a lunar calendar and celebrates a new moon the night before the day itself. It is a busy day when you can visit multiple households and bring food and money for children. Rather than spending Christmas Eve shopping for last-minute gifts, hastily wrapping and preparing for the following day, our Christmas Eves are spent seeing close family friends, swap gifts and watch a movie.

There is a sense of cross-pollination when it comes to Blending festivities because you can get Advent calendars for the month of Advent counting down to the Festival of Festivals.

I've learned that companies such as the London Christmas Tree Rental allow you to rent trees, then plant them outdoors when they get too big. When I told my mum that I had a tree that was too big for my room, she was less than enthusiastic, but she did help me clean it up when it was time to take it down.

Having our children experience both our backgrounds was important to me, so we celebrate both Eid and Christmas

Since I haven't grown up with my own festive customs, I've taken the liberty of borrowing from others, like the tradition of Jlabkafli, which involves gifting books on Christmas Eve, then staying up.

When I crept into my children's room late in the night on December 24th, I placed the stockings I made for them by their beds so they would wake up. While the tree and candle lights carve deep pools of shadow around me, I head back upstairs to finish my book.

I borrow from the movies as well as learning from other countries. I got very sick on Christmas Eve a few years ago so we ordered pizza and watched a movie. I told my children that I watched this at Christmas when I was a child. We ate from the box and enjoyed the movie.

A tradition was created without being aware of it. On Christmas Eve, we always order pizza and watch a Christmas movie. Creating festive memories each year with my family fills me with such contentment, but finding ways to thread my childhood to my present, through books and movies and many other cultural influences, has allowed me a deeper appreciation of the joy that can be had at this time of year.