The Way We Live, Sunday 19 December 2010: Sharing Christmas traditions
You know how much I love a ritual, how much I adore family traditions. At this time of year it’s the little things that can help make the Christmas season more meaningful. Last week I put a call out to readers to share their Christmas traditions and rituals with me. So if you’re looking for some fresh ideas, try some of these:
The adults in Kyley’s family do a pyjama “Secret Santa” every year. On Christmas Eve all the family gather together, change into their new sleepwear and then proceed to get drunk on eggnog.
In Leandra’s family it’s all about the way the tree is decorated. The star is only placed on top once the sun goes down. Then someone hits the switch and – BAM! – the Christmas lights are on and John Lennon’s “And So This Is Christmas” is put on the stereo.
In Frankie and Johnno’s house the children are taken to see the Myer Christmas windows before being allowed to choose one new ornament each for the tree.
The Sharry Family have a ritual that the Christmas star must be passed from youngest to oldest on its way to being placed on the tree. They also have a Christmas car game: anyone who spots random Christmas lights has to yell out “CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!” as loud as they can.
In Thalia’s home they do the Advent calendar and following German tradition they have their big dinner on Christmas Eve.
Over at Shona’s all the kids put on a Nativity Play. Although last year the shepherds got into a fight and the sheep (played by the family cavoodle) ran off.
Meanwhile in the Greatorex family it’s all about the Christmas cake – a cake that was first clipped out of the newspaper in December 1963 when Pam and her sisters Margaret and Janet were just young girls. Over the ensuing 48 years measurements have been converted and debates held over exactly how much a “packet of spice” actually weighs. And then there was the ’73 fire when the oven thermostat broke and the cake went “whoosh” (but was saved).
In our house we take Ava to see the Christmas windows and I make my now infamous brandy and cinnamon panacotta on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day usually involves a jigsaw, a trip to the beach and a walk through the streets to look at all the lights. Boxing Day is all about the cricket and me trying to stab myself with a fork out of boredom.
So why incorporate a Christmas tradition into your celebrations? Pam sums it up best.
“This is ‘not just a cake,’ Pam tells me. “ It is part of our family story. Its flavour continues to be made richer by the ingredients that are not listed on the recipe: the marking of the years, the dramas, the stories, but mostly the love of family and friends.”
What better way to celebrate December 25.
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Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.