I wish it could be Christmas every day…
2021 has been tough – in some ways even tougher than 2020. So Deb, Sue, Donna and I put our collective heads together to come up with a way of spreading a little Christmas cheer. I came up with a set of 10 questions as thought promoters – and then decided to free-wheel it…which comes as no surprise at all to my book club buddies!
You know I love to bake, and I especially love a Christmas bake. So, in the spirit of sharing some Christmas cheer, here are the ingredients for my perfect Christmas.
Our tree goes up on the first Sunday in December with all the rituals – potato scones, pinwheels, and champagne. It’s a fake tree and it’s full of decorations we’ve acquired over the thirty-two Christmases we’ve spent together.
The Christmas I was pregnant with Sarah we bought this gorgeous glass ball from DJs in the city (above, centre). The following year she chose her first ornament – pointing to this gold bear (above. left) from her pram. Over the years she’s chosen the cupcake Santa, the Surfing Santa, the parachuting Santa and a variety of bells and baubles. Her favourite is still the Ted Baker very glam ball we bought in Melbourne in 2014.
There are ornaments that remind us of people and places. The pandas I brought home from Hong Kong when I was there doing a relocation for work (2008), the pottery bird from the handmade markets in Perth when I was there doing another relocation for work (2009), and the pohutukawa my friend brought over from NZ. Whenever I hang that – and another I’ve bought since – I think of her and my “adopted” country.
In 2015 we brought 2 ornaments back from London: a suitcase with a map that was a reminder of the major project Sarah had done for the HSC that year and a cocker spaniel that we splashed out on in Liberty. It’s a posh cocker spaniel and looks nothing like Kali, Adventure Spaniel, but a spaniel it is. There’s the rolling pin and gingerbread recipe from the Christmas shop in Brugge (2018), the turtle and dolphin to signify our move to Queensland in 2017, the National Trust bauble from Lacock (2019) and the silver reindeer that reminded us of the one in Covent Garden (2020). This year we’ve gone with a squirrel in the hope that we’ll get to the UK next October.
I’m partial to a good Christmas song and have a playlist ready to go for the 1st Sunday in December all the way through until after Christmas lunch. Classics like Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, however, will always remind me of Mum and Dad.
Anyways, in no particular order, here’s my top 10:
- I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, by Wizzard
- It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas, by the Pet Shop Boys
- Last Christmas, by Wham
- All I Want For Christmas is You, by Mariah Carey
- Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), by Michael Buble
- One More Sleep, by Leona Lewis
- Merry Christmas Everyone, by Shakin’ Stevens
- Merry Christmas Everybody, by Slade
- Step Into Christmas, by Elton John
- Do They Know It’s Christmas (1984), by Band Aid
My festival of festive reading begins on December 1 and for a month I only read Christmas themed books.
What I love about a Christmas novel is that you know there’s going to be a happy ending. It feels like Christmas, tastes like Christmas but has none of the downsides of Christmas – the calories, the angst and the parking woes. Reading a Christmas novel is like a comfort food binge without regret.
Much of the time the Christmas in a Christmas novel is far from perfect. Plans go awry, money is tight, relationships are strained, yet somehow you just know it will all be alright on the night. In the imperfection is all the feeling of the season – and I love that.
So, here’s what’s on my Kindle for this year, but first a warning. If you’re looking for something literary, life-affirming, life-changing, or highbrow, look away now.
That’s not to say that what’s between these pages isn’t life-affirming or life-changing. A good Christmas novel could, in fact, be just what you need to read right now to lift your spirits and help you deal with the realness of reality.
On my kindle this year is:
- The Christmas Bookshop, by Jenny Colgan
- Midnight in the Snow, by Karen Swan
- The Merry Christmas Project, by Cathy Bramley
- Underneath the Christmas Tree, by Heidi Swain
- Once Upon a Winter, by Tilly Tennant
If I get through these, don’t worry, I have back-ups.
I love a good Hallmark Christmas movie – cheesy plot lines, crappy acting, super-sweet happy endings.
The five movies that I watch every year though are:
- Last Christmas
- The Holiday
- Polar Express
- Love Actually
I also love love love the Christmas cooking shows and watch them all December.
Our traditions changed a few years ago when we moved to Queensland as we no longer get to spend Christmas with my parents, siblings and nieces and nephews – something we always used to do in Sydney.
One thing that has remained the same is the gift unwrapping. It’s potato scones, pinwheels and champagne while Grant passes out the presents. We even managed to do that when we spent Christmas in the UK a couple of years ago.
Santa still drops by and leaves some little bits and pieces in a sack for Sarah, Kali and me and a chocolate stocking for Grant. We leave out a glass of whisky (Santa has a fondness for single malt) and a shortbread.
What’s on the table?
It’s all about the food.
Despite it very often being hot, we’ve always had a traditional Christmas lunch.
Last year we went to friends in Cooroy, in the hinterland. They did the turkey and the veg and we bought the glazed ham and the dessert – Grant’s trifle and a Christmas pudding. We’ll do the same this year.
Grant makes two trifles – one to take for Christmas lunch and one for leftovers – Sarah loves it for breakfast on Boxing Day.
I’ll cook a turkey buffe (whole turkey breast as opposed to the whole turkey) on Christmas Eve so we’ll have it and ham as leftovers with fresh Mooloolaba prawns on Boxing Day and through until we’re all sick of ham and turkey salads.
The best Christmas in recent times was Christmas 2019 which we spent in Tetbury in The Cotswolds with some friends. We had the lead-up in Yorkshire and London, and Christmas lunch in a pub. We all wore Christmas jumpers (mine even had Christmas lights on the tree that you could turn on and off) and had the best time. There was even a Twelve Pubs of Christmas walk around the Monopoly Board in London.
All I want for Christmas is…
Certainty to book travel – both to see family in Sydney and to venture overseas – knowing I’ll be allowed back into my home state without the need to hotel quarantine.