Christmas… My style
The festive season means different things to different people, and whilst in no way do I intend to insult or offend those with strong convictions or beliefs about this time of year, I would like to share what it means to my family and to myself.. and share a few things which makes my Christmas so special.
I spent five Christmases in the Northern Hemisphere and whilst I enjoyed the difference, the cold never felt right as a time to celebrate Christmas. It was highlighted of course by the fact we had no family to share it with and phone calls can only last so long, before you need to hang up and look at lunch by yourself; the tiny plastic tree with tinsel and turn on the Christmas message by the Queen. Christmas – as far as I am concerned – is meant to be steaming hot!
Christmas has always meant a time for or family to get together, to relax and have fun. It was one day of the year that once the cows had been milked, ( if they hadn’t been turned out with calves for a few days beforehand anyway) it was a day for us to do a great load of nonsense. This ethos has not changed a great deal as I have grown and have family of my own; thankfully we don’t have room for cows in the suburbs!
Every Festive season, in the lead up to Christmas, we drive or walk about our suburbs, windows down so the breeze would fill the car and shout our Christmas greetings to families as they sat on their lawns or having a BBQ in their driveways whilst admiring the light displays. Our street have a strong competitive streak, where we try to out do each other with our light displays. I am one of the organisers for the street party, held on the second Sunday of December. We play silly games such as egg and spoon races, thong and egg tosses; wheel our BBQs into the street and share food and drinks till late. Our family also likes to be involved with a christmas charity, where we pack baskets of food and deliver them to less fortunate families and individuals.
The festive season for my intimate family alternates each year. One year, we travel to my parents property 200 km away and spend up to two weeks on the farm. My parents have a sprawling home and is capable of housing up to 30 of us at one time. My 5 brothers and sisters; along with their families and any orphans we pick up on the way, play backyard cricket, throw knives at large wooden boards in the garden, target shoot with compound bows or rifles, play golf, darts and billiards – all within the confines of my parents property. These games have become extremely competitive, with trophies and glory to be won each year. At night – particularly Christmas Eve we play cards or board games, cook enormous amounts of steak and drink copious amounts of softdrinks and beer. Buckets of water and apples are left outside for Santas reindeer, and treats left in prominent places for Santa when everyone in the house leaves a small santa sack at the base of thier beds, hoping for it to be filled by the morning. A glimpse of Santa is usually guaranteed just before the children go to bed – as he runs through the garden.
Christmas day starts at daybreak with everyone jumping onto one anothers beds showing off a favoured Santas gift. Santas sleigh marks are closely inspected as he usually lands in sand patches outside the childrens windows. Bite marks from hungry reindeer are compared and empty buckets put away. Breakfast consists of lollies and coloured popcorn, while one of the boys dresses as Santa and hands out the presents under the tree. You can imagine how many gifts there are stacked underneath – and the enormous pile of gift wrapping once they have all been unwrapped. Even though we have a rule of gifts under $15, there is always someone who breaks it; but quickly forgiven when its revealed we all cheated a bit. I don’t do stress shopping well – and begin my Christmas gift shopping in May; attempting to get it finalised by early November.
Christmas lunch is a smorgasboard of cold meats, hot roasted chicken, salads and a mountain of prawns. Dessert, for those with room consists of my grans date pudding and custard or watermelon and mangos. The next few days meals are drawn from the left overs from this offering.
After lunch, the annual water war begins. Santa always brings waterballoons, water pistols and a myriad of war like weapons to do battle in the heat. Sides are drawn and the pressure to take over the backyard and supply lines begins. With the only rule that Grandma is not to be wet, its a game of tactics, politics and very damp fun. As the years have progressed, the technology for waterpistols and their capabilities have as well. I notice this year there is a backpack water reserve version which holds iced water.hummmmmm.
Christmas time is the only time that we as a family see one another as we all live thousands of km away from one another. Its a time for laughter, for fun and good times.
On our alternate years, we spend Christmas in the Evett tradition; in a more refined manner and closer to a cold weather one – as the family are English and only been in Australia for 37 years. Evenings were filled with card games, old time carols cranked out and the Stuart Crystal getting an airing as it was filled with champagne or sherry. Christmas lunch is always extremely traditional; with the huge turkey, stuffing, meatballs, chipolata sausages, brussels sprouts, honeyed carrots, backed pumpkin and potato, bread sauce, plum pudding and brandy sauce. Until the year before, the Evett Christmas was spent at the beach. In the morning we would sit on the cold sand, digging our bare feet as deep as we could and greeting the sun as it rose, orange juice and croissant in hand; then a mad dash into the waves and making sandcastles till it was too hot and we were forced back into the airconditioning and the prospects of a hot lunch and the grand unwrapping of the gifts. However, with new marriages, breakups and family members returning to the UK, the beach Christmases have been replaced with ones around our pool; cocktails in hand and laying on the sun lounges.
I love that my children have the opportunity to experience different styles of Christmases. For me, the emphasis will always be on family and having fun together. I adore everything about Christmas – the lights, the decorations, the tacky christmas carols, being able to be joyful all the time and wish everyone you meet a merry xmas – and getting a reply! Its a mad time of year with more parties and activities to attempt to fit in within 3 weeks than you normally have in the rest of the year. My wish would be that everyone stayed as happy and communicative as they are during the festive season – all year round.
Backyard Golf photo is drawn from a private collection (note : water fight still continues in background)