Is it really nearly Christmas?

5 11 2011

photo credit Rkramer62

The signs are there.

The supermarkets are full of mince pies, turkey rolls, Christmas puddings and a variety of cheap and gaudy decorations.

The advertisements are on television, suggesting what that special someone in your life, mum, dad and the kids, would all like to receive for Christmas.

The Adelaide Christmas Pageant is next Saturday….and a variety of smaller pageants are scheduled for towns and suburbs. Once Father Christmas “arrives” in town, there will be no going back. The Magic Cave will be open and queues of over-excited, over-sugared children will wait for their moment to sit on Father Christmas’s knee and demand a list of goodies be delivered, whilst swearing that they have been good this year, really, really good. While you might think that the “white lie” of Father Christmas is OK, is this not also an early lesson in conning for the children, as we require that they tell the man in red that they have been good in exchange for the promise of goodies to come?

Father Christmas arrives in Adelaide 2009 - this might have been the year he fainted from the heat, distressing small children in the crowd! photo credit: Stephen Barnett

The tradition in our family is that the Christmas tree goes up after the Adelaide Pageant. That is the official start of the Christmas season for us, although several boxes of mince pies have already been bought and consumed, and I do already have a couple of presents hidden away. Soon the house will be full of little bits of glitter that have fallen off the decorations. We avoid the real tree, so no pine needles, but that fake slow is a killer to remove from windows after it has been baked in the harsh Australian sun for a month of two. Not to mention trodden into the carpets. Quite why an Australian Christmas would require fake snow is a question that has never been adequately answered. Surely we don’t still suffer from cultural cringe?

photo credit Shazzmack

The children have started their Christmas lists, They started them shortly after last Christmas, I think. Each year seems to increaingly focus on electronic goods – and hence gets more and more expensive. We stress that the Christmas list is a “wish list” not a shopping list. Hence son number three has started adding things to my shopping list instead. As if I might accidentally buy him an iphone or an ipad, just because it is on my list! Full marks for trying.

Other Christmas traditions are less embedded. Cards have been replaced by Christmas emails (or e-cards) and phone calls. For several years I bought cards and then didn’t quite get around to sending them. Eventually I just realised that I wasn’t going to, and hence sent the emails instead. At least they arrive. And on time. Sorry, Australia Post.

photo credit: Serendigity

With family scattered in different cities and states around the country we no longer have a tradition of the family Christmas lunch. We usually have a Christmas lunch with whoever is around, and then have a very informal dinner which involves grazing on left-overs. Often this involves drinks with the neighbours and a post-mortem on Christmas – what horrendous presents the children have been given (noisy, inappropriate, irritating, battery-requiring etc – my mother takes the cake for giving my 7 year-old children mobile phones), what terrible thing some relative said over lunch or on the annual Christmas phone call, who got drunk, etc.

A friend told me that after a couple of years of failed family Christmas lunches, she and her family decided to make their own tradition. They go camping every Christmas. No arguments about whose turn it is to host the lunch, which side of the family gets lunch or dinner. A limited opportunity to completely over-cater. Their children are now adults but the tradition continues.

So this year we decided to cut out the middle man and have lunch with the neighbours. And better still, we decided to find a hotel or restaurant open on Christmas day. And do you think we can find anywhere?

Surely we can’t be the only families in town wanting to have a no-fuss Christmas lunch, with no cooking, no cleaning up afterwards. You might not think it is the spirit of the season, but for two working mums, the idea of not doing housework on Christmas Day sounds heavenly.

Almost like Christmas, really.

What Christmas traditions do you celebrate in your family?

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7 responses

5 11 2011
cristycoates

Ever since I was small, Christmas was this amazing, magical family time. We lovingly continued the traditions which made it so special for our own children, as well adding our own unique family traditions along the way.

Then, we bought a hotel as an extended family.

It really changed our Christmas celebration…very late Christmas Eve nights trying to bribe people out of the front bar (as in 2am- it’s well past closing time, people, and we haven’t been serving alcoholic beverages for hours!), so we could clean and set up for the next day (hotels in SA must open for at least 2 hours on Christmas Day), construct and wrap presents, wake up early with the kids, be sufficiently delighted with the amazing gifts, open up the bar, make and eat our own ‘special’ lunch in the public bistro (sometimes falling asleep on the floor of said bistro due complete exhaustion- literally)….

Suddenly, Christmas become a chore. I’d always loved preparing, shopping, making, glitterizing, generally making it a special time with special effort. We all really missed our magically relaxed Christmas time together (especially at my parents beach home).

Even now, after leaving the hotel, Christmas just hasn’t been the same. Dad still runs the show, so our Christmas celebrations tend to work around that. No more beach house as an extended family. But, it’s certainly better than it was.

The one hotel Christmas which stands out was when we decided enough was enough. We left the bustle of business life behind when we closed the doors on Christmas morning, booking our whole extended family into beautiful suites at The Lakes hotel (with water front views). After swimming, bathing and lounging about, we took a limo (I think- we all went in the same car and we didn’t have to drive, anyway) to The Hyatt for a smorgasbord of Christmas delights for our evening meal. More lounging about enjoying each others company for the rest of the evening, then buffet breakfast. Luxury!

No work = awesome Christmas!

Hope you find a place close by!

5 11 2011
Mudmap

sounds fabulous Cristy – and staying in the resort sounds like a great idea!

So if the hotels have to be open, surely we should be able to find one!

5 11 2011
cristycoates

You’d think so…there’s got to be something somewhere…but they don’t have to open for lunch or dinner necessarily. We only had to open the front bar for 2 hours. Who knows, they may have changed licencing arrangements since then, too?!

5 11 2011
Mudmap

Have been musing on the purpose of requiring Australian hotels to open for 2 hours on Christmas day…is it because alcohol is such a staple of life that we can’t have a day when it is not available for purchase? Curious…. If it were bread or milk I could perhaps understand…but alcohol? Could we not have bought it the day before? It’s not like it goes off (at least not in our house!)

6 11 2011
cristycoates

Yes…absolutely ridiculous, as far as I’m concerned. The very late night of drinking on Christmas Eve is surely sufficient!

6 11 2011
Mudmap

Indeed! Aren’t you glad you don’t run the pub any more!

7 11 2011
cristycoates

You bet!

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