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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Traditions

I loved Christmas when I was a child; the anticipation, the visiting the store Santa in Bayards (a family dept store now long gone), explaining to Santa what presents I'd like and then eating the free 'fairyfloss' that the store gave out. We'd have chicken for Christmas dinner and it was such a treat. It's hard to imagine these days that chicken was a special occasion meal. I remember I really wanted Roast Chicken like my friends would have but we had a type of casserole with tomatoes, onions, butter, olive oil, potatoes and of course chicken pieces. It was delicious though and years later I started cooking 'Stufato' myself although minus the lashings of butter. On many Christmas days, my father worked and they were quiet days with just my mother for company. Actually that's not quite true...I would be eagerly 'devouring' new books I'd been given as presents so I enjoyed the company of books. My father died in January 1967. He had been very ill in hospital but he was allowed to spend a few hours at home on Christmas day. I think I started to go 'off' Christmas then. Looking back, I wonder why we didn't go to other people's places to celebrate Christmas in the years following???? We didn't really have much in the way of family in Brisbane so that could partly explain it.
When I married, my inlaws lived in Melbourne and occasionally we'd visit them for Christmas and then my MIL started to come up quite regularly. Both mothers were widowed. Gradually Christmas started to become enjoyable and when the girls were born I was completely back to the excitement etc of the season with decorating etc. The tradition of having the big dinner on Christmas Eve came about when I found out my mum was turning down offers of Christmas lunch with friends because she felt obliged to have lunch/dinner with my family. By celebrating on Christmas Eve, mum could spend Christmas Day any way she liked. When I met Bruce, he liked the idea of Christmas Eve so it continued. My brother and his family consider it a tradition to spend Christmas Eve at Aunty 'Ria's as well.
For a little while Bruce and I found Christmas day a bit of a trial. Bruce's girls would come for gifts after breakfast, then we'd be at my brother's for lunch (yes we'd dined with his family the night before) then Bruce's brother's for afternoon tea and evening meal...It was too much so now we just go to David's (brother of Bruce) for lunch and the girls do gifts on Christmas eve. For a number of years we've gathered at the home of Bruce's cousin, Pamela for a cold buffet meal usually a week before Christmas. Our meal is also rarely a hot roast meats' meal as there are so many to feed and that's a lot of vegies to peel!!! We have BBQ or sometimes cold meats and salads but always plum pudding and custard.

We have a tree but over the years I've replaced the decorations. I have lots of handmade ones which are old but mostly the tree is covered with decorations I bought on our UK/Europe trip in 2008. I'd post a photo but I need Bruce's help to get out all the boxes of decorations from the high cupboards in the bathroom. In my classroom each year I have displayed a knitted Nativity which I bought at a craft market years ago. I've never been 'chipped' for having such a thing in my room and the kids love to move the figures around and ask lots of questions about how the little figures look like pictures on some Christmas cards.

Bruce and I always send a Christmas letter with our cards (last year some went electronically) and cards we receive are hung on some cord strung across the loungeroom. I love buying gifts and all the wrapping and on Christmas Eve, we all squeeze into the lounge after dinner to open our gifts. I usually end the evening by serving at the Midnight service. I had a break from that last year but am doing it this year as Father Rod was stuck with no one to serve.

This year, the girls are doing Secret Santa; so they each only buy for one sister. I think I'd like to go that way too. In recent years I've been overwhelmed with the generosity of my family and the gifts they've given me. I've experienced a feeling of even a type of sadness as I know I don't need this much 'stuff'; I feel guilty that I have 'excess' while others have so little. No one whom I've confided this feeling to, understand. Perhaps they think I'm ungrateful??? Next year I vow to make more gifts and even this year, I'll make my infamous (lol)rumballs (with brandy tho') and package them up for my colleagues next week. One colleague will get a knitted throw. I may get some time as I said in my previous post to make a few more gifts for a cousin and sisters-in law. It won't be long now....and I do love the laidback Boxing day and the following days up to new Year's Day.

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