Right about the same time that this magazine will be chugging through a printing press, hot on its way to you, I will be joining a group of my most beloved girlfriends, and our combined seven kids, in our annual Christmas pilgrimage to get photos taken with Santa. This year will be our 13th pilgrimage in a row. This tradition started in the most traditional way – you have to get your first child’s first Christmas photo with Santa, right? As new playgroup mums, we decided there was safety (and generally some caffeinated fun) in numbers so we all turned up together, six-month-olds in tow. We shoved those kids in Santa’s face, they freaked out about the strange bearded man, we smiled at the camera, paid inflated prices for our snaps, and we were done. The following year, we recreated that group photo, just to be able to compare how the kids had grown. The following year there were siblings, so we had to get that shot as well. Thirteen years down the track, and living hours from each other, we still manage to drag that same rag tag bunch of now-tweenagers to Santa for that group photo. The kids are equal parts enthusiastic to see each other, too-cool-for-school/Santa, and also intuitive enough to know that this photo can be a pain in the mums’ bums to coordinate but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Over the 13 years, we’ve seen them change from innocent little things in their tiny, cute handmade colour-coordinated Christmas outfits, to rollicking tween boys who would re-position the Myer fashion mannequins in questionable poses as we escaped the store. There was the year that Miss 4 forgot to put on her underwear and the odd years when we’d squeeze the dads into our group photo as well. And every year we generally leave the nearest café in warzone-like conditions but with our friendship buckets filled to the brim. Christmas itself is filled with tradition – I guess it’s what makes this time of the year special. What are your traditions? And, if you don’t have a special one, what tradition will you start this festive season?