Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Traditions

I'm in a very strange mood today, might have something to do with it being my oldest brothers' birthday today, but alas he died 2 years ago. And possibly the fact that I have another birthday just around the corner myself, on New Year's Day actually, I'm suddenly feeling very "old" . So sing Auld Lang Syne then think of me.

I've started thinking about traditions and celebrations, especially Christmas ones, and so thought I'd share a few of our family's. Growing up in western Sydney meant that Christmas time involved travelling to the North shore to visit one set of relatives, then the inner Southern suburbs to visit the other side. This was often done on the same day, and if we happened to be on the Northside at night time, we'd detour through the city to visit the major Department store Christmas windows, at Mark Foys and David Jones in Sydney for those who remember them. They were usually animated, well clockwork in the early days, and brightly decorated and lit. You'd see many youngsters in their pyjamas standing with noses pressed up to the glass to catch a glimpse of Santa and the elves in the workshop, and the traditional and Disney stories all laid out and beautifully dressed. I think I decided one year that I wanted to be a window dresser when I grew up, so I could do those windows each year!!

When my own children started to come along, we started our own traditions. These included inviting the paternal grandparents and sister to sleep over on Christmas Eve. After a sumptuous dinner we'd all sit down to watch the televised Carols by Candlelight, then the kids would be bundelled off to bed. We'd all wait with baited breath to make sure they were asleep so we could play Santa and put all the presents under the tree. Of course SIL made it worse by buying knitted Christmas stockings, which stretched A LOT, requiring beach balls (blown up of course) and lots of large plastic bath toys and such to fill them. Even today the now adult kids insist on the stockings being draped over their wrapped gifts under the tree.

As they all grew up and the magic of a childs' Christmas dimmed a little, we still kept the traditional Christmas Eve, but sometimes work committments meant they couldn't come to dinner, or they got invited to their partner's family for a meal. When my MIL died suddenly, it just didn't feel the same and the meal got simpler, although we still sat up to watch the Carols. This year we might go to the neighbourhood church Carols by Glow Stick (doesn't sound the same does it!) which is only a short walk away, if the weather is kind. A new tradition in the making.

The other great traditions in our family include Christmas breakfast, which has long been warm butter croissants with jam and cream, orange juice and Champagne. Now the adult kids will drop everything to come along to this event, LOL, and we have been known to wait for a latecomer before starting on Christmas morning. A few years ago we started lighting up the house too, with many power boards and extension leads required to fit all the sets in. With only one young person living at home at the moment, we haven't put up lights this year, but I have put out my santa figurine collection, see photo.

There is one more that I'll mention before finishing this post. My kids were fortunate to grow up in a lower middle class neighbourhood, with the same kids going to Primary and High School with them and staying friends. One family lost their Mum suddenly a few years ago, and she had helped them with a silly Knock and Run Christmas trick we call The BOG. Not really sure what it stands for, not sure I want to know, LOL, but it has been a great source of silliness and fun over the years. We have done some really bizarre things in the name of The BOG, including filling a life size Santa Suit with air filled balloons and putting him on a garden chair on their front door step. One year they sent a music book of Christmas Carols with BOG inserted in the appropriate places in all the lyrics. We had Santa Snow all over our front garden at 4 a.m. one year, we almost caught them in the act! Last year one of the girls was overseas, and it seemed a shame not to BOG, but no-one really felt like it. Well, 2 nights ago I put the cat out, and we'd been BOGGED. Now to think up a diabolical revenge.. you can imagine how this will pan out, can't you... back and forth, when you least expect it, right up till Christmas morning. Stay tuned, I'll post my BOG in due course, after it's been done of course, in case they read my blog!!


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading about your Christmas tradtions. I grew up in Kiama and every Christmas we travelled to Wollongong and waited and waited for our cousins to travel down from Sydney! I like youe Christmas eve dinner - We have a similar dinner, but just us and the children (all young)- a chance to have a roast while it is relatively cool (LOL) -but also we thought it could be the one thing they will all come home for when they are older.

Christine said...

Yes Paula, Christmas Eve is a chance to catch your breath before the BIG DAY, but in the past I sometimes had to duck into my sewing studio to finish up one last gift or garment for a client before Christmas, LOL. These days I have a bit more sense, LOL, but I do miss the days of the little kids' excitement. One day grandchildren perhaps....