This festive season was the second Christmas for James and Ola Jordan's 22-month-old daughter Ella, who celebrated the special day with her family. It was also a tough time of year for James, who sadly lost his dad Alan to cancer in March.
MORE: Exclusive: Strictly's James and Ola Jordan reveal plans for baby number two
In our exclusive interview, the former Strictly dancer tells HELLO! how focussing on Christmas fun with Ella helped him get through the difficult and emotional time without his father, who himself adored Christmas. "My dad was the master of wrapping presents," remembers James.
WATCH: The Jordan's family Christmas
As you'll see in our video, the family had a wonderful time taking Ella to meet Santa Claus and also to the pantomime, which the little girl thoroughly enjoyed. You have to see her reaction opening her presents too!
Read Ola and James' Christmas column below...
Ella meets Santa and Christmas Eve fun
Ola: Before Christmas Day we took Ella to see Father Christmas. She was very quiet when we went in – I think she was sleepy.
James: She preferred the elves to Father Christmas I think!
Ola: The elves were talking to her before we went in and she liked them. Then we went in to see Father Christmas; I was just happy she didn't cry, because apparently when James was little he cried so I was prepared for that.
Ella meets Santa!
Ola: Christmas Eve, we went to my sister's and Ella got some presents there. What we found was that when she opened one present, she didn't want to open another one because she was so happy with that one she got. We were like, 'Open more, open more!' and she was like, 'No, I want to play with this toy', so it was quite funny to watch.
James: Yeah, it takes ages to open presents with her. I was always one of those kids that just want to rip everything open and see what I've got.
So how did Ella sleep on Christmas Eve with the excitement of Santa coming?
Ola: Ella slept well actually.
James: She comes to our bed quite a lot now, which is really bad but to be honest with you we just need to sleep because she's waking up at like midnight/ one o'clock every night.
Ola: In the middle of the night, even 5am, she just moves about and cries.
James: Yeah, so we bring her to our bed now, which is bad, but you know what, you only live once and I quite like it actually. I quite like her being in bed with us.
Ola: She gives us cuddles in the morning.
Ella's presents under the tree
Christmas morning presents
James: We got up about 8/9am. Ella doesn't really know about Santa properly, so when we brought her downstairs, she didn't really understand what all those things under the tree were.
Ola: She was like: 'What is this?'
James: She wasn't really sure at the beginning, was she? It wasn't like she went running over there. It took her a little while to build up the courage to come over, but then once she started opening the presents I think she understood what it was.
Ella checks out her gifts
Ola: She got a Peppa Pig present and she brings me the Mummy Pig and gives James the Daddy Pig. She's on the Peppa Pig level now – she loves it, it's constantly on TV.
James: So I think the next thing we're going to do is Peppa Pig World for her birthday.
Ola: I think her favourite present was probably the toy kitchen. She loves it. She keeps cooking and she brings me the porridge and toast she makes. She's constantly making food and stirring it.
MORE: Ola Jordan wows with adorable selfie with 'mini-me' daughter Ella
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Ella with her toy kitchen
James: She still loves her golf set though. She plays that every single day. I'm so happy about it! Oh, and Ola's sister bought Ella a drum set, which I was very angry about [laughs].
Ola: I said to her: 'You've done that on purpose'. She said: 'No of course I didn't'. Whatever!
Christmas lunch and remembering James' dad
Ola: After opening presents at home, we went to Grandma's and then we all went for lunch at a restaurant.
James: For mum, it was her first Christmas without dad so didn't really want to be cooking, because he always used to help a lot. It was a thing they did together so I said, did she want to do something different?
Ella looking cute in her festive dress
Ola: It was really nice to be together. Well, I suppose it wasn't that nice because James' dad wasn't around and everyone had that in the back of their minds. Did the family do a toast to him, we ask?
James: Our family don't like to speak about it because it's so upsetting, I think everyone kind of shies away from it. We all know. We all think about it. I think if someone had suggested a toast to dad, we'd all have been crying. I know it's bad, but I try not to think about it too much because when I think about it I find it hard still.
Ola: I think everyone copes with things differently. Everyone was trying to concentrate on the kids. Ella was there in her pretty dress and James' nieces were there as well. After lunch, we went back to James' mum's house and had a few more drinks and nibbles.
James: Mum puts on her Christmas music and everyone gets annoyed with it! It was nice to be with everyone but it was just a weird year really.
Ola: His dad was such a big character, you really miss him.
Boxing Day family time
Ola: Boxing Day we went back to Grandma's and had a meal there – turkey, gammon, peas, mashed potato – Ella loved it.
She doesn't like sprouts though! I love them and eat them even when it's not Christmas. She loves other veg though like broccoli, peas, green beans. We have to cook it all soft for her to eat.
More playtime for Ella
Ella's first panto
James: We took Ella to the panto on 29 December and just as we arrived she started falling asleep in the car. I was like, 'Oh god, what are the chances?!'
Ola: She doesn't want to sleep in the day anymore.
James: But when you get her in the car she gets all tired. As everyone knows, it's a good place for them to fall asleep.
Then when we were walking in, she was falling asleep on my shoulder. I was like, well this is ridiculous, she's going to be asleep through the whole thing. But then she just perked up as soon as it started.
She loved it! It was Jack in the Beanstalk – and the funny thing is, that was the same panto we did when she was in Ola's belly.
Ola: I was the fairy with Ella in my belly when I was about seven months pregnant.
Did watching the panto make Ola and James want to get back up on stage?
Ola: No, not really.
James: It's nice watching other people as well.
Ola: Ella loved it. Everyone was laughing, she was laughing even though she didn't know what she was laughing at, and she was clapping. She didn't even mind the scary bits.
James: And when people were shouting back at them, she was randomly shouting out!
Ola: It was quite funny to watch her first panto.
Ola and Ella at Christmas
Wishing Ola's parents a happy Christmas
Ola: I spoke to my mum and dad at Christmas. They're ok. They're on their own unfortunately as my sister is in the UK as well. They were going to come for Christmas but they were a bit worried because of Covid, so they stayed in Poland.
Hopefully, they'll come for Ella's birthday at the end of February. We'll do a family party for her.
New Year's Eve plans
James: We've been invited to a few places but it's difficult with a young child.
Ola: To get a babysitter for New Year's Eve would be quite hard. We don't have anything planned, so we're going to be home with Ella.
James: I'd prefer to stay in with her, to be honest. We'll probably be in bed by 10pm! Life is different now isn't it, but I don't mind.
Ola: Christmas has been so magic this year with Ella. We've loved making it fun for her.
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