And today, on Christmas Eve, mine begins! I’m off to spend some time with my little family… as well as my family, back home.
I love Christmas. This year, as I set about making rustic looking wreaths from branches the kids and I had snaffled on long walks to the park, I realised that this love of all things festive and merry must have come directly from my mum. Some people inherit obvious physical traits from their parents. I got a passion for thrift shopping and an almost obsessive delight in the Christmas season.
The gift of memories and time are very precious. Making wreaths with my kids, it all came back to me with a jingling bell clarity… the memory of doing the exact same task, except I was small, and attentive and completely fascinated by the way my mother’s hands would seemingly weave magic. Bending branches and twigs and perfectly shaped May Gibbs style gumnuts and somehow turning them into a beautiful circlet to hang on our door.
There were pomanders too. Oranges so stuffed with cloves that they became black, and spiky, and lent the house a wooded, alpine scent for weeks leading up to the day itself.
And the food… oh, the food. My mother never shies away from an excuse to bake a fruit cake. Some of my first memories involve licking the spoon after she’d made one of her delicious, rich, dark cake batters. Christmas day, is, of course, a time for the fruit cake to really come into its own.
For us, in my iteration as a mummy, we make gingerbread houses. Magical looking ones, with funny little leaning bits and lots of cheery white sugar syrup to keep them glooped together. The kids stick lollies over them, higgledy piggledy, and when they’re set hard, we wrap them in cellophane and give them to their much adored great grandparents. Over the last four years, that’s become our little tradition.
We also have a family pudding recipe, though this is one tradition that I’ve learned rather than inherited. My husband’s family have a rich and interesting history as Lutheran settlers to this part of Australia. There is the most fantastic family bible in safe-keeping for my son – gold edged pages and indescribably beautiful pictures, hand colored, and kept between wafer-thin sheets of protective parchment. It’s old, old, old, and so special. The pudding, while delicious, is staunchly Lutheran too. Yes, that’s code for no alcohol. The flavor is delicious though, and all the more so for the fact that all over the country, descendants of granny K are cooking up this pudding right now. Over the years, some slightly less adherent members of the family have improved on the recipe (in my humble outsider’s opinion), incorporating a wine sauce to top it with at the last moment. Now, dare I say, it is the perfect way to end a Christmas lunch. I hope my kids one day look back on all this festive togetherness with as big a smile and sense of wonderment as I do now on my childhood.
Whatever you’re doing, however you’re marking this time of the year, I hope it’s filled with hope, wonder, and time with those that you love most. Oh, and a few lovely books for good measure… CC.x