This post was written in response to Sue’s post over at Sizzling Towards Sixty and Beyond where she asked some of her favourite bloggers to share their thoughts about Christmas. Sue has kindly shared a snippet of my post (thanks again Sue). Read on for the full version.
I enjoyed gathering my thoughts and writing about this special time.
Christmas for me has always been about family and spending time together. In all my years I can only think of one or two times that my husband and I have been on our own for Christmas Day, and even then we joined with friends so we wouldn’t be too sad and lonely.
A few memories have come flooding back – like when my three daughters were little I always made them matching Christmas dresses for all their parties, Santa photos and to wear on Christmas Day. It was all about making their day special and fun. (Looking back I also think I had a thing about ‘matching’ which no doubt I’d caught from my mother who loved dressing my sister and I in matching outfits). I love the photo below, mainly because of my fabulous hairdo. How sweet do my little cherubs look in their matching dresses??
Fast forward to 2014 – we had a family holiday at the beach and my second daughter had secretly made her sisters matching Christmas dresses. They proudly wore them for a special photo shoot and presented me with photos of them matching their younger days. It was very funny and very sweet!!
Nowadays the girls are all grown up and we have fallen into the pattern of getting together every second year. With one daughter living in the UK and our other two daughters and numerous family members scattered throughout Australia, it isn’t an easy task, but we manage to do it.
On the year we have everyone together we start looking early for a suitable house somewhere, usually at the beach, and get working on the logistics of getting everyone together. It’s quite an effort but it’s fun.
We have had some fantastic times together – who could forget the bush fires in 2001 that threatened us in our delightful holiday house at the beach, just as we sat down to Christmas lunch? The fires cut us off from civilization for a number of days without power or communication. What a scary experience it was but we were very lucky as many actually lost their homes nearby. It was a very different Christmas that’s for sure!
Another year, (actually it was 10 years ago in 2007), we met our three daughters in the Italian Alps for a Christmas to remember in the town where one of the girls had been a nanny years before. One daughter was living in the UK, one was on a GAP year working in England and the other was on a university exchange in Sweden, and we were back in Australia. So we decided to arrange a white Christmas together and spent the time skiing the slopes in brilliant (but cold) sunshine. It was at this time I decided to call an end to my skiing career and went out with a bang having a delightful Argentinian called Roberto as my personal skiing instructor for a few days, including Christmas morning!! It was an amazing Christmas and one I’ll never forget, as it was our one and only experience of a White Christmas. Living in Australia usually means a hot summer’s day.
Last year we rented a huge house on the Gold Coast and had our daughter and her fiancé come out from England, our other two daughters and their husband’s, my husband’s parents and my sister-in-law – all together in the one house. We all had to travel quite some distance to get to the Gold Coast which added to the excitement of it all. For Christmas Day lunch we then added my parents who lived nearby, my brother and his partner, his daughter and her two children. It was very hectic but enjoyable time.
There’s always cricket to play and watch on TV, food to eat, games, swimming, walks, books to read and continuous chatting going on. We all make an effort and although it can get a bit tense at times it all works out.
We’ve had some wonderful times together over the years and try to include all sides of the family as much as possible, despite difficulties and distance. Some years it’s been great to have my sister and her husband with us, but it all depends on her grandchildren’s whereabouts.
On the years in-between, our daughter in the UK spends the time with friends and is jealous of our warm weather and missing out on the fun of being with family. Our middle daughter and her husband relocated from UK in 2012 and they’ve spent every Christmas with us since then, and we usually rent a house together for a week, as we are doing his year, at the beach near where my parents-in-law live. Our youngest daughter lives in Brisbane so spends the in between years with her husband’s family. We are always in constant contact during this time.
We usually have a Secret Santa gift session so that no-one overspends but we have the fun of giving and opening presents. Although it’s supposed to decrease the amount of presents under the tree, it doesn’t seem to work as the pile continually grows. I also like to collect decorations whenever I go travelling. This year having just returned from New Zealand I bought a gold ball with a Kiwi on it and I have a great collection of gorgeous Danish decorations.
I enjoy laughing at ourselves and one year on my birthday (which is two weeks before Christmas), I requested that we all participate in an Awkward Photo pop-up photo booth. This was a huge amount of fun and I still laugh when I look at the photos. By the way I don’t usually allow my birthday and Christmas to co-habit but I made an exception this particular year and I’m glad I made everyone give this to me as my birthday present.
On a similar theme I made this quirky little video a few years ago which had the girls rolling their eyes!! I think it’s a great fun dance video.
Christmas is special, so we try to make sure we enjoy our time together, relax and have fun in the sun. We don’t take it too seriously as you can probably see but we’re making memories together which is most important.
Do you do things differently in your family? I’d love to hear your favourite Christmas custom, you can let me know in the comment section below.
May you enjoy yourselves too, however you spend this time. Wishing you a happy and healthy year ahead.
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