I’m sure the fact that Christmas is so close is starting to fill some people with dread but I am excited, even though I can feel myself being sucked into the “oh no, I still have so much to do” mindset. But when this starts to happen, I remind myself just why I love Christmas. I’m also going to think about two lovely friends I caught up with last week. Both have had some very difficult things happen for them in the last year but they are both excited about Christmas. They are both focusing on the joy of the season and the excitement of spending time with loved ones. I think this is something we all need to focus on, rather than stressing if we have remembered every present and will have enough food.
I love the preparations, the shopping, the wrapping, decorating the house and cooking. I like planning for Christmas lunch, which is now followed by a family birthday party for our eldest who arrived at 3.47pm on Christmas Day 6 years ago. I’m especially excited this year because we are back in Australia, and able to buy all our ingredients including fabulous local produce. We have already ordered our ham from Michael at Barossa Heritage Pork and I’m now trying to decide which of the glazes featured in this month’s Gourmet Traveller we’ll use.
I’m still hoping we’ll be able to continue our tradition of oysters and prawns with bubbles mid-morning, so the big decision is which meat we’ll enjoy alongside the ham. I’m leaning towards a turkey or goose. The options for sides and desserts are endless although we still need to decide if anyone is cooking pudding. I’m hoping to start cooking my cakes in the next week or so (sadly the ants got into one batch) and I’ve decided to have a go a making some fruit mince tarts. I’m not game to attempt a gingerbread house (the last few years the boys have decorated a ready-assembled one from Hanoi Cooking Centre) but I am going to attempt some Christmas trees made out of layers of star biscuits both for the table and as gifts for teachers. And if I don’t succumb to the heat, some traditional Danish biscuits are also planned.
This year will be extra special because it will be the first time we have had the family together in our house and it will be our first Christmas with our youngest niece and cousin, who has just hit that age where she’ll be into everything.
Being back in Australia this year, it does feel like the Christmas shopping season starts earlier and earlier, even with Halloween now being a bigger event than before. As excited as I’d like to get by seeing all the decorations, but I can’t help but feel that seeing all that in October and November has people stressed even earlier, and has them spending more and more. I read something from an American writer yesterday who said they like to have everything purchased before Thanksgiving in late November so they can enjoy December as a family without the stress of shopping. While it does makes sense, I have such fond memories of the excitement of finally going out to do Christmas shopping and having Santa photos in mid December once school finished.
When it comes to buying presents, I’m torn between surprising people with something nice and buying something they really want. I’m glad that for the last few years my family has been big on Christmas lists. It’s still a surprise to open gifts on Christmas Day and everyone has something they really want or need, and doesn’t have to feel guilty about immediately logging on to eBay!
Santa still calls at our house and we have been having fun working out what the boys will write on their lists, at the same time reminding them that Santa can’t buy everything. I think the message is getting through! We also had a special shopping trip last weekend, partly to think about their lists, but mainly for each of the boys to choose a present to be put under the giving tree at our local shopping centre. I was inspired by a discussion on philanthropy at a recent conference I attended and we decided that at 4 and almost 6, the boys should start to understand the joy of giving and helping those less fortunate than they are.
My goal for this weekend is to write a list of everything I would like to do for Christmas and then make a plan and work out just when all this cooking, shopping and decorating is going to happen. I’ll share it with you on the blog next week.
What are you most excited about this Christmas?
And what will be on your table at Christmas Lunch?