Day Three: Everything I Love About Christmas
There is just so much to love about Christmas. So much. And it isn’t just the day itself that I love and look forward to – it is the entire build up to Christmas that I get inappropriately excited for!
As it gets towards the end of December, when everyone is not only counting down the days until Christmas but also the days until work breaks up for the year, there is just a different feel about, out in the air, y’know?! Houses adorned with Christmas lights illuminate otherwise dark suburban streets, trays of mangoes are sold curb side, and then there is that absolutely glorious period of time where you have no idea what day it is, what date it is or what country you are in. Time becomes irrelevant, meals fade away and are replaced with mojitos and cheese boards and fruit salads. The smell of families barbequing is a staple every Sunday. And, as devastating as it is, that distinctive smell and glowing smog of bushfires is the Australian summer.
I also love get-togethers. I love a Christmas lunch. I love food. I love entertaining. I don’t know what it is about hosting a lunch that gets me so excited.. I think that a huge part of it is that I love going places where there is a huge amount of food available, and so when I host, I make damn sure that my guests and I are positively SURROUNDED by food. I get such joy out of cooking and preparing meals for those that I love as well, and there really is no better way of bonding with family and friends than over a table that is full of food. I love experimenting with different dishes and flavours and offering people meals that were made with love (I realise how corny that sounds, but whatever, you wouldn’t be saying that if you tried my rosemary roast potatoes). Though there are moments when I wish that we got white Christmas’ here in Australia, overall, I love celebrating in summer. Peeling fresh prawns from the Sydney fish markets (or getting someone to peel them for me, usually my Grandpa), demanding family members pull Christmas crackers and spending the rest of the day fixing the paper crown on your head, the all-time favourite pavlova that is loaded with fruit and drizzled with passionfruit pulp, the conversations had around the barbeque as people pass each other drinks from the esky.
We have never had a very close family. Immediate family, yes, but extended family we only really see at Christmas. Though I wish that that were different sometimes, there is something really amazing about everyone coming together and having so much to catch up on. Only seeing each other for the bigger events of the year means that generally speaking, everyone is over the moon to see one another and there is no time, reason or space for anything other than laughter and a lot of hugging. This year is the first year that I (and Pete) will be hosting Christmas. Normally, Christmas Day is spent at my grandparent’s place in Picton or at my mum’s place, but this year Pete’s side of the family and mine are coming together at our place, in our home. It is going to be a whole new experience for me, and although I will be ginormous and impossibly hot (PREGNANT IN SUMMER, REMEMBER?!), I can’t wait to host what is now my family and my son’s family.
Christmas also allows for me to indulge in craft and get really creative with wrapping and decorating. Every year I try and theme my present wrapping differently. One year I used really beautiful hand printed wrapping paper and then the next year I used brown paper and Christmas ribbon. One of my favourite sights is seeing a big pile of presents under the Christmas tree, and one of my favourite smells is Christmas wrapping paper (it totally smells different to regular wrapping paper). I love those times where you have to ban your partner or your family members from one room in the house so they don’t see what you are wrapping. This year, I have the added opportunity of creating really beautiful, handmade, crafty table place settings which I have never done before. Also, handmade Christmas cards and desserts and cookies. I mean, the dessert and cookies should probably be in the paragraph about food, but there is something about decorating cookies that feels more craft-y than cook-y.
Another thing that I love (there is a lot, if you haven’t noticed) is buying presents for people. I bloody love it. I would buy Christmas presents for those I love all year round if I had the means and the time and the money. I will generally write down a long list of things that my family, friends and partner love and then come up with unique and as-personal-as-possible gift ideas for each person. I have always appreciated a well thought out gift as opposed to something generic or expensive – something that really shows that the other person knows you well. I love everything about the gift process – buying it, wrapping it, putting it under the tree, giving it to the person and then watching them unwrap it (the unwrapping process is always a bit of an awkward one, but we get over it) and then the hugs that generally follow.
Christmas Eve for the past couple of years have been spent at our local pub – their busiest night of the year – and it’s great because everyone that I have ever known (pretty much) is there, and you run into people that you haven’t seen in years and everyone is happy and tipsy and extremely merry. Prior to that, Christmas Eve has been spent driving to a street in North Ryde that is known for their Christmas lights – every house in the street puts on a display. The road is closed and there are families, young and old, roaming the streets and pointing and laughing with kid’s eyes (and mine) wide open in awe. After that, we would drive home and watch a movie together before excitedly getting into bed ready for Santa the next morning.
Christmas mornings are absolutely sacred to me. Mum and I wake up early and head up to the cafe (and have done for the last nine years) to make fresh orange juice and coffees for everyone. We all wake up and find our Santa presents (but more on this tradition later), drink our coffee, put our Christmas hats on (more on this tradition later too) and open presents. After that, Mum and I will make a stack of pancakes for everyone with fresh berries, lemon and sugar, and litres of maple syrup. Then there is that glorious little pocket of time where everyone is fed and looking over their presents happily and lazily before getting ready for what is often a huge Christmas feast.
This Christmas is going to be a special one for me. I am pregnant with our son, hosting lunch for my family with my partner. I am sure that by the end of the day I will be a complete wreck, but everything that I mentioned here today makes every ounce of exhaustion worth it. Spoiler alert: I am making three kinds of dipping sauces for fresh prawns, we are barbequing octopus and chicken and beef, and Shari’s parents are coming from overseas to spend the day with us. There are so many other elements to our Christmas that I cannot wait to share with you all, but for now, I hope that this got you in the Christmas spirit – even just a little bit.