I’m always interested to read, in posts about Christmas, the little clues that suggest that Christmas is not celebrated the same way everywhere, even when the names of the traditions are the same.
Here’s a quick overview of how we celebrate.
- Christmas is the end of the year, so we have little “thankyou” gifts for teachers and friends. This year, I’m buying little Christmas ornaments for everyone because even if they don’t like them they can put them at the back of the tree. We’re also making special fridge magnets for the creche staff and will bake biscuits to go with the rest of the package.
When I say “everyone” – there are (at last count) Guides leaders (6), Swimming teacher (1 each), Kindergarten teachers (3), Creche teachers (around 20), Classroom teachers (2), Specialist teachers (5?), Dancing teacher (1), Before/After-school program leaders (um, 5?). Of course we don’t have to have a gift for each one, but I want to bring my kids up “right” – which means that I expect them to have gifts for these people. I’m trusting that the weather will cool down a little before I go on my gingerbread-baking binge.
- Christmas parties – Santa makes an appearance at most Christmas parties, which means that we need small and appropriately-wrapped gifts for each of the girls for each party. Small being the operative word.
- Over the next week, while we finish the Christmas shopping, I’ll also take each of the girls shopping to choose her gift for Daddy and for her sister. I try to encourage them to make something, but time usually gets in the way. Fraser usually just chooses 3 things for me and lets the kids pick which one they want to give.
- Christmas Eve is, typically, when we put up the tree. I like to say it’s because it’s traditional, but the real reason is that I am never organised enough to get it up any sooner.
- In the night of Christmas Eve, Santa comes. At our house, Santa only brings small gifts – typically books, small toys or puzzles, colouring books, fancy pens or crayons, hair accessories, sweets that mum and dad don’t approve of, etc. These aren’t wrapped, but are somehow stuffed into the children’s christmas stockings in that special way that only Santa knows. In return, we leave brandy balls, gingerbread and the good whisky out for Santa, as well as carrots for the reindeer.
- On Christmas Day in the morning, the kids wake up at crack of dawn and spend some time checking out their stockings and comparing/swapping items. We usually leave one wrapped gift from mum & dad out for them, as well.
- When we get up, we cook breakfast (often pancakes) and try to make sure we’re all at least partially dressed before we open gifts. This can be a challenge, with two children eager to see what they have got. We open gifts one at a time, so everyone can ooh and aah over them.
We try not to go overboard with gifts. They get clothes and books, maybe a toy of some kind, or something really special. This year there are a few games on order. I prefer to buy things as they need them and give small gifts during the year, rather than buy one huge item at Christmas. (Of course, last year they got the cubby house, which was a truly huge gift).
- I try to go for a walk on Christmas Day, mostly to make room for our Christmas Dinner but also to say Merry Christmas to neighbours we meet. This seems to be more a European custom than an Australian one (which is ironic, given the weather in both regions).
- We have a big lunch with family, usually around 2 although it may be a bit later this year (my brother plays golf in the morning). This year we’re going for a barbecue but I think I’ll roast a turkey anyway. Gifts again, for everyone from each family. Plum Pudding with brandy butter and custard for dad – the rest of us will have something nicer like pavlova.
- Leftovers in the evening, if we have room to eat anything.
On Boxing day, I get up even earlier than the children did on Christmas Day, to hit the sales. I have a routine all worked out which even covers which order I do which shop in. This year, there’s not much I need, but I am sure to go in anyway just for the experience.
Now if only I could finish my gift shopping!