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Christmas traditions

12 Christmas traditions to try out

I’d spoken before about how having a child has totally changed how I see tradition. Suddenly, I want lots. Where there was just me and Tony previously and we were happy to play it by ear for each major holiday, I’ve now gone all “Let Fairy Lights Drip from our Rooftop!!!” when it comes to Christmas and Chinese New Year.

Well, 2 Christmases ago I tried to put together a gingerbread Tardis for Tony – and failed. It seemed a great idea at the time – you know, I get the practice now, I get better over the years and when Arddun is finally old enough to help out, we can Do It Together for Daddy. Gingerbread Tardis – it’d be our thang. Traditional, yet geeky. Perfect.

Completely overlooked the fact that I’ve never baked gingerbread ANYTHING before.

Bought lights for the tree in 2011. They overheated and popped. No lights last year.

Forgot to buy stocking fillers for anyone.

I am still unthwarted. Along with New Year Resolutions, I’m guessing that new Christmas and CNY traditions are also going to be my thing. Inventing them, carrying them out, refining them along the years. Throwing out the ones that make Tony sigh with resignation and long-suffering, keeping the ones that bring genuine joy and require very little cleaning up after.

We went to Melbourne after Christmas last year, which was the centrepiece of our Christmas-New Year holiday. But we also had a combined Christmas lunch with another family which was something we really enjoyed. This year, as Arddun starts to understand even more about the world she’s a part of, I’m compiling a list of traditions that we may or may not try out.

Googled and found the following great suggestions

  1. New pajamas on Christmas Eve
    It’s summer for us during Christmas time, so I’m not sure how this might pan out. Will probably NOT get flannel PJs, but maybe something cool and cotton might work.
  2. Christmas Lights drive by in pajamas. Ice chocolate after
    I have a thing about children (and adults) wearing their home clothes or their sleep clothes out of the house. Never liked it, absolutely will forbid Arddun from doing it, think it’s slightly indecent somehow. BUT along with the new jammies perhaps, we might enjoy a collectively silly session on Christmas Eve of trawling the neighbourhood Christmas lights displays while wearing spanking-new rubber ducky pajama pants. And Monty Python Killer Rabbit Slippers. Of which we already own TWO pairs.
  3. Nativity scene
    I used to be quite weirded out about celebrating Christmas as Jesus’s birthday, because I’ve always been conscious about how Christmas – as we know it – was basically a pagan holiday rebranded around the 4th century. That said, in the spirit of building our own family traditions, I think we can make Christmas anything we want it to be. And if that includes thanking God for sending his Son to us and celebrating such humble yet powerful beginnings, then why not. Some parents buy a nativity set and have their young children reenact the historical event. Others place the nativity scene under the Christmas tree and have the baby Jesus figurine come just a little closer to the manger every day. We haven’t decided what we’d do for Arddun yet, but teaching her about the birth of Christ (and that He wasn’t Anglo-Saxon, contrary to all the nativity scenes in shopping malls!) could be a part of what we do. All the hoopla about it not being the actual date that Jesus was born can come much later.
  4. Christmas tree up on 1 December
    Yeah, that one bombed last year. Better luck this year.
  5. Gingerbread house baking together
    See above regarding Tardis. Down, but perhaps not out yet.
  6. A Christmas Book a night for advent
    I like this one, as it turns a regular part of Arddun’s bedtime routine into something a little more special. I can’t remember where I first saw this suggestion, but Kate did one better and individually wrapped her 12 Christmas books so her children could enjoy the simple pleasure of ripping into a mini-gift each night before Christmas. Will be doing this one with Arddun when she gets older, methinks.
  7. Loose change for charity at the end of the year
    There are a few ideas buzzing around my head regarding our little family and the charities we support. One idea I’ve read recently was to keep a large jar somewhere central in the house where family members could empty loose change over the course of the year, and then have a family conference at the end to use the loose change to support a charity or an individual we know in need.
  8. Christmas Eve board games
    I looooove board games. I hope Arddun does too. Better yet, if we can have another child, then we’ll finally have the numbers for Mahjong. I’m just thinking aloud here.
  9. Christmas Eve movie
    Someone window-shopping at JB Hifi recently asked me if I could recommend a good Christmas movie. Apparently, it was tradition in her family to pick out a movie about Christmas and watch it on Christmas Eve. I suggested Joyeux Noel but they had already done that one.
  10. Christmas family photo
    Cheesy. But necessary. Especially if you’re going to dress up the kid.
  11. Service
    I’d like service for another to become an important part of our Christmas holidays, so apart from flinging money in the general direction of the needy (see No.7 above), I like the idea of bestowing the gift of time. Perhaps something like volunteering our skills to wrap Christmas presents at a shopping mall where proceeds go to a charity. (Because soup kitchens, as we found out, are actually getting difficult to volunteer for.) Still refining this one, but the basic idea is that Christmas should always be about giving, and it’s something we want to teach Arddun through practice.
  12. Scavenger Hunt
    I used to create GREAT scavenger hunts when I was in my teens and had waaay more energy to think up abstract clues in rhyme. Time to dust out this life skill in a few years’ time and get the scavenger hunt going on Christmas Day! This will, of course, involve quite a bit of plotting beforehand, and on-the-spot guidance on the day.

What Christmas traditions do you have? What did you do last year? Can I steal some more ideas?

Merry Christmas, everybody!

I had a good Christmas this year.

A few things made it stand out a little different from previous years.

Having another family to spend Christmas Alone with

Unless we’re in Brisbane or my mum’s in town, Christmas in years past have been the stuff of crickets chirping in the background. We had the occasional lunch with friends during a couple of Christmases before, which has been lovely.

But there’s something about hosting your own Big Christmas Family lunch; doing the shopping, getting prepared, feeding people, opening presents.

Enter New Friends from the States who live 2 minutes from our home, and suddenly there we were – two houses, far away from family, yet close enough to join forces and make pigging out on a whole turkey totally worthwhile.

Shannon and I now have shared bragging rights on cooking our first turkey. The fact that we got the butcher to debone the entire turkey and stuff it with apricots, mango and hazelnuts so that effectively we had a turkey roll that could actually fit in the oven made it all the better. I don’t think that’s cheating. It’s still a whole turkey. It’s still getting roasted. It still tastes the same. Stroke. Of. Genius. For the rest of you who had to saw your turkey in half or stress over drying out your turkey.. well, now you know. Thank you, Lilydale Butchery.

Having a toddler who understands

It’s Arddun’s second Christmas – third, if you count womb time – and I’m starting to understand what the fuss is all about. Now that she’s actually engaging with her toys – instead of ditching the toy to play with the wrapper, ala Christmas 2011 – this Christmas rocks on the present-opening front. I had gifted Arddun with a toy petrol station because she has always made a beeline for the toy cars and ramps in the church building every Sunday. But Daddoh topped it by getting a tea set to go with her new table and chairs (thank you Famiza for the furniture, BTW! It’s a darling set!)

And that’s how Kitty got to have her first taste of plastic tea.

Oooh yes… Brisbane Nanna had also made gorgeous Christmas outfits!

Back view of Christmas dress
Back view
Front view of Christmas Dress
Front view

Arddun is also besotted with her new Little Tikes Trike, which, despite major steering issues, doesn’t dampen her spirits one bit. And as for the petrol station set I got her, it turned out to be rather poorly made so I’m returning the lot and looking for a better one. (There’s a reason sometimes to go for brands you’ve actually heard of.) Still, this little girl was heard making car noises all around the house, only pausing for a quick sip of tea with kitty, before heading off on her new driving adventures with her little black merc.

Which is an encouraging sign for the next bit.

Having a family trip to look forward to

I get massive cabin fever during holidays. I know that a real holiday, by definition, includes getting rested – which is why taking a trip somewhere often defeats this very purpose. But there’s something about staying at home “doing nothing” that drives me absolutely batty when my family has a longish week off together. The mundane can be a terribly wasteful time filler, and a surefire way to get me itchy and grumpy.

So this year, we’re driving to Melbourne to visit long-time friends. The last two days have been a slow build up to a flurry of excitement for the trip ahead. We set off tomorrow. Our very first car trip together!

Speaking of which, I’m gonna call it a night. Plenty of driving to do tomorrow (4 hours each driver!) and we’re aiming to be out of the house by 9am. Optimistic, I know.

But before I go,

Merry Christmas, dearest family and friends – and people who actually read my blog. This has been a tumultous year, but in many ways also, a very rewarding one. I am so glad you are all a part of my life because I have been made richer for it. May the rest of your 2012 be safe and happy and if we don’t get to talk soon, have a great New Year!

XOXO Velle

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