Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas traditions

I'm a bit of a fan of traditions - both in the holiday season and everyday life. One of the things that makes Christmas such a special time of year for me is all it's little traditions. Having grown up in the southern hemisphere, Christmas for me is in the heat of summer and so is usually spent trying to cool down - from swims at the beach, going to a movie or braving the crowds at Chermside to be in the air con, it's always a sweaty time of year. Mitch and I have though experienced one white Christmas back in 2007, in Switzerland. We had the most fantastic time and it really brought all those snowy Christmas movies & carols to life.

This year, I'm so VERY excited to be having another white Christmas - it's such a novelty for us. We'll be spending it with friends and I really can't wait - it's really hard being away from family during the holiday season so I think our plans will keep me well and truly entertained. Here in Holland, everything is about Sinterklaas at the moment - I'm realising that it's quite a big deal here and has it's own traditions (my favourite being the poem everyone writes about each other - nice things about that person and then 'something to work on' for the next year - ha, just like the Dutch!). With seeing all the Sint stuff being advertised, I've been thinking about some of our own Christmas traditions.

Decorating the Christmas tree is of course a given - usually with classic Christmas carols playing (it has to be either Bing, Frank, Louis for me to happily listen!), a bottle of red and our little turtle running around biting our toes (he really does!!! I knew there was a reason we named him Nibbler).

Driving around the Christmas lights is a tradition I really love. I have no idea if they do this type of thing in Europe, but in Australia, there are Christmas light competitions in each town. We usually look at the Brisbane ones with family and if we are spending Christmas in Gympie, we'll all troop around the local lights there too.

Christmas carols - it wouldn't be Christmas without them. I love watching the carols on TV from Sydney & Melbourne, no matter how bad they are and how many dancing sparkly elves there may be. I have memories of going to the Christmas carols in Gympie as a kid (with a candle in a round paper/alfoil holder thingo) and love sitting outside on a rug while everyone is singing carols around. It's so peaceful and special - a big advantage to a summer Christmas. I couldn't imagine sitting in the snow here to sing carols... Brrrr!!!!!

Food is a big part of Christmas for me - I think my love of eating is genetic. I usually make apricot balls and almond biscotti, while Mitch bakes up a few batches of gingerbread (in the last few years, he's turned it into a gingerbread tree!) and plenty of mulled wine. It's usually so hot I struggle drinking much of the hot wine (we did try it chilled once but it wasn't quite the same) so a few Aussie beers accompany it perfectly :-) In my family, we generally have a variety of dishes for Christmas lunch. It varies from year to year but there are always a few staples - including Natalie's chicken roll (yum yum yum yum - chicken and bacon and philly cream cheese in a roll), tomato & onion pie, prawns with mango-sweet chilli mayo, and my favourite - aberdeen sausage. Note to self: must get the recipe off Mum so I can make one this year (despite the fact that 3 out of the 6 of our group are vego. I'll just have to eat it on my own if I have to...).

Decorations - who couldn't love the tradition of decorating the house with Christmas pretties!!!!!

Since we've been married, we always have a pre-Christmas dinner with 2 of our very best friends. Yes, just this tiny group - it's been a tradition the 4 of us have had since 2005. Although we now all live in different countries, it's a tradition that I hope we can all keep going whenever it happens we're in the same country... And as I type this, the realisation hits me that this year, we will all be Holland together for a few days - Christmas dinner guys???

Christmas Eve for us is usually spent with my family. We have a big (but not over the top - gotta save room for the next day!) dinner and once the kids go to bed, put the presents out under the tree (and make sure someone takes a bite out of Rudolphs carrot - when I was a kid, I remember leaving Santa out a beer...). We all stay together - most years at Mum & Dad's in Gympie but we've also spent 2 Christmases at Noosa and our very first Christmas last year in Brisbane at my sisters. Once any bikes have been assembled and doll houses carried out, it's getting late and time to head to bed.

Christmas morning - for some reason, I'm always up before the kids! In fact, I think we all are (completely opposite to when I was a kid and Martine and I used to get up at the crack of dawn to look at presents)!!!! Once everyone is up, it's present opening time!!! Between the adults, we do a secret santa - that way, there aren't so many presents to buy and everyone can put more thought into their gift. Usually by Christmas at least one of my sisters (yes Martine, we all are used to your phone calls in the lead up to Christmas trying to figure out who's got who!) knows who is giving who presents!!!! Once Dad has worn a pair of undies on his head, gifts have been exchanged and the mounds of paper collected, home made rhubarb relish & ham on toast is a tradition - one I'm going to miss, yum!

We usually do a big Christmas lunch rather then a dinner - although last year, we had a dinner and it was really pleasant not eating a huge meal in the heat of the day.

After lunch, Mitch and I head off to Mitch's family in Gympie for a second Christmas - although it can seem tiring having to travel between families on Christmas, I love being able to live it twice - essentially, 2 Christmases a year!!!! We spend Christmas afternoon/night and Boxing Day with the McLarens where everyone gathers around the tree in the lounge room to open presents (usually handed out by Mitch's youngest brother) and then a lovely roast dinner, all cooked by my mother-in-law - it's a lot of work cooking for everyone as the family has grown over the years, I've got to hand it to her for organisation! Boxing Day is usually spent either at the beach or a swim in the pool - again, trying to escape from the revolting heat.

So, there's some of our Christmas traditions in a nutshell... It's such a special time of year to me and I'm really excited that it's nearly here again. Traditions vary so much all over the world and just between families as well, I love hearing about how other people spend the holiday season. What Christmas traditions do you hold dear???


  1. Hey Lu,
    That snowman is sooo cute!!! It looks like so much fun playing in the snow.
    Thanks for sharing your Christmas traditions, it is heaps of fun doing all the usual family stuff at Christmas. I bought a new advent calendar this year, I don't think you can ever be to old for an advent calendar, they are heaps of fun.
    My sisters and mum and I love cooking Christmas food, we always have pork, ham and turkey at a massive christmas lunch, then christmas cake, christmas pudding, ice-cream christmas pudding and chocolate balls, as well as anything else we feel like cooking. At least we have enough leftovers for a week!! The last couple of years I have started making the christmas decoration cookies out of Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess. They are soooo delicious, definitely worth a try!!
    Sometime in the next couple of days we have to decorate our living room.
    Thanks for your post, it is lovely to see your photo's and read about what you have been doing,

  2. That sounds like a lovely (and yummy!) Christmas day! Those cookies sound yum - I love Nigellas recipes too, I haven't got any of her books but I love the website :-)


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