I’m sure I am not the only one who is caught up in the motions of keeping the odd seasonal tradition alive. And I mean the ones our own family know and love. Whether you celebrate Christmas, or Hanukkah, Diwali or Chinese New Year, it’s hard to avoid choosing the things YOU love and making a regular thing out of them.
I’ve been thinking a lot about it as summer approaches for those of us who live in the southern hemisphere. All my life I’ve known about snowmen, and Santa coming in his sleigh, and snowbells, and ‘I’m dreaming of a white Christmas’ – despite the fact that nothing could be less likely. It HAS given as a very broad view of Christmas though. We can enjoy the IDEA of those things, whilst basking in the sun on a hot summer day, by the beach. Best of both worlds really.
My family has always celebrated Christmas, and my earliest memories involve trips to Grandparents’ orchard, and my Grandmother’s no frills but plentiful feast, cooked hot and served at lunchtime. Dinner was always a chicken, with gravy, potatoes, peas, carrots, and stuffing. Dessert was always her homemade steamed plum pudding, with hidden sixpences in it to be discovered after plunging through custard and cream to the fruity cake within. Presents had already been unwrapped – usually outside on blankets if it was a sunny day, which it unvariably was.
As we grew older, we continued the same tradition: stockings left by our beds for excited dismantling in the early hours. Presents unwrapped under the tree in the morning when all were up. Then a trip across to the grandparents for midday dinner.
(You’ll note the homemade ornaments adorning the Christmas tree, many of which survived to be pride of place in my parent’s tree decades later.)
As time has gone by there have been the usual comings and goings, additions and subtractions, but the core of the day has stayed the same. Naturally, as an adult, I’ve more than my share of work/friend Christmas parties to attend as the year draws to a close. Here in New Zealand, where we don’t have Thanksgiving, Christmas is a celebration that happens as the summer break begins, and work for many closes down between Christmas and New Year. This year I have attended the larger University Christmas Party, a huge multi-floored event, with band and seething masses of people in 80s outfits. Last night a small group of my good friends got together and had a barbecue, with the sun going down late and twinkling lights all around the garden. There are at least two more parties to go before the actual Day. For the last decade or so, we’ve met with a few extended family to have cold meat and salads outside on the verandah.
In the afternoon, we generally depart for our own homes or hang out just relaxing in the sun.
I’m going to miss my Mum this year. She was the reason for all the music in our lives growing up, and why I can still – just – play the cello, if only for Christmas carols.
That’s my sis and I playing with friends, at a Christmas party about 6 years ago.
Not sure what we’ll do this year – there being only four of us. (Sister and her two adult children, and me). It might be time to make a few new traditions. . . I’m open to that. Whatever we end up doing, I’m very grateful to have friends and family still, to enjoy the season with. It does make me very aware that for many, that is not so. Perhaps THAT is the old tradition that will go through a transition – looking outside of my own family to see how to spread the cheer. Anyway, wherever you are, and however you celebrate life this season, I wish you well, good health, and the comfort of good company.