“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere I go”. I wonder what Christmas looks like in your house?
In our family I have really tried to create some of our own Christmas traditions. I feel that these traditions are a really great way for our family to have fun, achieve something together and really build that sense of family. Sometimes they can be stressful and at this time of year it can all feel like too much, but I think it is all worth it in the end. I believe that in future years when the children think back to their childhood these will be the things they will remember and reminisce about.
Having said all that, I think it’s important to be flexible too – if you’re sitting up til 3 in the morning for the 3rd day in a row madly trying to handknit your Christmas stockings and yelling at the kids all day because you’re tired and stressed, well, it’s just not fun anymore. Let it go. There’ll always be a new tradition around the corner.
We have had a few different traditions over the years, but the two that stand out as being special for our family are getting the Christmas tree, and making our gingerbread house.
When we lived in Mt Gambier, every year about 2 weeks before Christmas, we would all pile in – some in the car and some in Greg’s ute to head out for our annual Christmas tree hunt. Now to be honest with you, this wasn’t altogether legal as taking pine trees from the forest without a permit is definitely not allowed, but I figured that if we got one from the road side instead of in the forest, it was really just the same as weeding, and no one can complain about that, right?
Loaded on the back of the ute were the necessary tools, an axe (Greg’s tool of choice), and a pruning saw (my contribution), and the seldom used tarp to cover up the evidence incase we happened to run into some forest rangers.
We would set off out to our favourite spot in the pine forest, and then we would drive up and down the back roads with everyone’s eyes peeled, looking for just the perfect tree. Mobile phones between the two vehicles came in handy, as calls of ‘stop’, ‘go back’, and ‘no, it’s too big’ or ‘it’s got a flat spot’ ran through the cars. Often about this time, Greg would drive a bit too ‘hoon’ like on the dirt roads, and we would have our traditional argument about how I didn’t want him to do anything that might encourage the children to go out and get themselves killed being silly behind the wheel!
Finally, the perfect tree would be spotted, and we would all tumble out, wade through the long grass, watching out for snakes and getting our socks and shoes stuck full of burrs, to inspect the chosen one. Usually they don’t look as good up close as they do from the car, and sometimes we would have to head back for a bit more of a drive around, but eventually we would settle on one that everyone agreed was just right, and the cutting would begin.
Now, you might think that was the end of it, but no, we also had to find a little tree for Grandma, and each child decided that they needed a little tree of their own for their room! The kids and I usually had no trouble finding the necessary little trees though while Greg was chopping the big one and they would all be thrown in the back of the ute and we would head triumphantly home.
Our Gingerbread House or should I say ‘Gingerbread Mansion’ is another family tradition that has been a highlight for our children for about 6 years. Each year we would make a gingerbread house together in the week before Christmas. The first one was just a little cottage but we put a lot of detail into the decorating, it was delicious and so much fun, and so the tradition began. Each year our gingerbread house got bigger and fancier. We made an amazing mansion and another year we made a gingerbread castle. It all became a bit time consuming, I think we worked pretty solidly for the whole week on that castle! I was always having to run out to the shops to get yet another packet of Jersey Creams or Licorice Allsorts. We would proudly take our creation to Christmas lunch with us – very carefully, and after lunch had been eaten the kids would be given the go ahead to attack the house. It was always good to eat, the gingerbread with Jersey Caramels was the best. After Christmas we would have a huge container of left over gingerbread house pieces that would keep us going for a week or two. Yum, just thinking of those leftovers makes me want to go out and make another one!
It is with some sadness that we leave these traditions behind as we head into our first Christmas in Brisbane. No longer can we head out into the forest to cut our Christmas tree, and as the kids have got older they we have all lost our enthusiasm for the gingerbread houses. So here, we are on the lookout for new traditions. New ways to make memories. This will take some time, perhaps something we have done this year will become our new tradition. Whatever happens, I know that the kids will always carry with them the memories of the good times we had together as they grew up with our family Christmas traditions, and I look forward to the new traditions unfolding.
I would love to hear what Christmas traditions your family has.
All the best,