Christmas traditions old and new

I knew Christmas had started once we were sitting around the lounge room watching the carols. The Melbourne Music Bowl carols not those nasty commercialised ones that come from Sydney (ok, yes, biased, but then, really…). At that point the house was clean, the presents wrapped, the food as ready as it could be and I could start to relax into it all.

We watched the carols almost to the end, we played cribbage together as a family – a team version (DS and I WON!! Not competitive at all, at all) and drank some sake (which was DH’s birthday present that we’ve been waiting to open since August).

It came to half past ten and we put on jackets (light jackets – it’s summer but it is Tasmania) and we wandered down the street to church. I love living this close to church! The midnight service starts with carols by candlelight. So beautiful, hushed and holy. And so lovely to be there as a family. So so lovely to have DD home from uni for Christmas.

The only problem I had with the service were the times we paused for meditation. ‘Just close your eyes and listen’. It was truly lovely, but for someone who usually turns into a pumpkin at about 930pm, closing my eyes was very dangerous. I nearly drifted off several times! We finished with a totally awesome, rockin’ gospel rendition of ‘Joy to the World’ which was very energising and very helpful because after that we had to walk up the hill back home again.

I was the first of the family in bed. No waiting up to fill the stockings for the children this year. In fact, we have started a new tradition for the whole stocking thing now that the kids are older. A couple of days before Christmas we pair up (teams again: DH and I vs DS and DD) and taking about $25 per person we go and buy the most silly junk we can find for a Christmas stocking each – the kids buying for our stockings and us buying for theirs. On Christmas morning we all sit on our bed and laugh ourselves silly over what we have bought.

My stocking this year included such gems as:

  • A make-it-yourself fox mask (with added bonus points for the fact that one of the arms of the glasses is upside down)
  • A bubble blowing model plane
  • Bubble gum
  • A solar flower that dances in the sun
  • A solar powered insect trap for the evenings
  • A whole lot of individually wrapped plastic, water-filled ice cubes

It was quite a good haul actually! And one of the nicest things about having older children is that we all have a nice decent sleep-in first. None of this 5am business. We woke up at the decent hour of half past eight and then got sick of waiting and woke up our youngest after an hour to have the fun of the presents.

Later in the morning we opened the presents under the tree. It is lovely to see how thoughtful the children are now that they are giving us gifts too. And we did quite well in choosing presents for them too I think!

The next part of the day was the food part. We had my parents and a couple of friends over for Christmas lunch and I just wanted to provide everything and bless them. We had lamb and turkey and potatoes (pink eye potatoes of course – in Tasmania we really care what kind of potato we have and nothing but pink eyes will do for Christmas lunch) and salads (some of which had been made the day before). We then had a discussion and decided that we needed a sleep before dessert. My parents had done a nativity service, carolling, a midnight service, an 8am and a 10am service over the last 24 hours (Dad is a minister and Mum plays the piano and organ) and are usually totally exhausted (with good reason) come Christmas day. So we all chilled out on the couches in the lounge room and DH, DD and DS went and had a snooze. Mum slept on the couch.

The next part of our Christmas day was the good part, dessert! On Christmas eve we had all baked something. Not all at the same time though. That may have been difficult even in a decent sized kitchen like ours. I baked a lemon tart, DH baked lamingtons (they were AMAZING – everything else you have eaten is stale, trust me on this), DD baked a raspberry tart with a little added kahlua, and DS baked an apple tea cake. So we had all that, plus some Christmas pudding (well, it is Christmas after all), mince pies (bought them), custard (again bought), cream, and chocolates. We could have had ice-cream and cantaloupe as well but I forgot we even had them. Don’t know why… I think we might have had enough sweet stuff.

After all that we fought off the sugar coma to open the presents for and from Mum and Dad and then as they left we started on the cleaning up (it’s not quite finished yet but we don’t have a dishwasher so it’s going to take a few sinks worth of dishes) and had some more sleep.

We are finishing the day with the Royal Variety Performance and leftovers. It’s nearly time for bed and then tomorrow we will get back up and do it all again. Yes, it’s time for the outlaws (oh sorry, in laws) Christmas tomorrow. We’re taking dessert leftovers. Can you believe it?

It’s been a delicious day. I am so grateful, grateful for the joy, the peace, the family, and the birth of our Saviour.

What are your Christmas traditions?

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