Christmas in Australia
Well the launch is now over, now we can begin to think about Christmas. This year Takis’ family will be coming to spend the day with us: children, grandchildren, partners and extended family members. They will each ‘bring a plate’ which will help as there will be about 24 in all. This group has become the settled xmas-group, but always includes some new faces each year along with the old.
Even though some of us live about an hour’s drive from each other they are making there way here as we have enough space for this group to gather in a typical Australian outdoor setting.
The invitation has been sent out and was a guide to times and what to bring. The suggestion to ‘bring a plate’ is very Australian. This means bring a dish of food that will be shared. Because of this there is a certain element of uncertainty about what will turn up on the table! I did not want to be too specific, but in the end agree that a bit of guidance helps.
Bring along presents for the children, and that special dish that you are famous for to share with us all, be it salad, lasagna or chocolate cake.
Check with us if you think there will be too many chocolate cakes!
At 2.30 pm gifts will be given.
I’m sure that as usual the food will be a mix of Greek, English and Australian traditional dishes. Takis is making a gammon, a very traditional European joint of pork cooked with a marmalade covering. But there will also be a cold chicken terrine, and some Greek meatballs.
Sweets will include an Australian traditional ‘pav’ (pavlova, made with egg whites cream and fruit) plus mince pies and trifle. These last two are for my benefit, as the Greeks in the crowd really don’t appreciate all those dried fruit concoctions the English love, the plum pudding, the mince pies and Christmas cake with marzipan.
Christmas is the big family get together time in Australia. It is the time gifts are exchanged and families join together for lunch, often a barbeque outside in the garden, on the beach or beside a river.
In Greece Easter is a bigger festival and I’ve heard that in America Christmas can be a much smaller ‘family only’ event compared to the much bigger Thanksgiving Lunch, for which folk travel from far and wide to join in with the extended family.
On the whole I’ve found that in Greece the host does all the cooking, though it did happen once that we all ‘took a plate’ to a birthday party for an expat. However I’ve only attended New Year or Easter events, not a Christmas in Greece, so maybe things are a little different then.
So right now Takis and I are now in the planning mode, making lists, doing our first shop, and hoping that Melbourne’s weather will be a little warmer and drier than we’ve had most of this month, then we can eat outside in the BBQ shelter.
On the day the children will have opened up their first presents at home, usually found in a stocking at the end of their bed. Our group though has another time when presents are given out – half way through the afternoon. Often one of the men dresses up as Santa Claus and distributes the gifts. We used to all give to each other, but nowadays this has given way to only bringing gifts for the children.
Gifts are always tricky to negotiate. Do you try to act thrilled when it’s something you don’t like? Do you pass on to someone else the gift given last year that you did not use? Do you let someone know what you want?
Takis and I are not huge on surprises for Xmas, but he’ll have some bottles of marmalade and I’ve already received my present, and tried it out – a leaf blower to help in the garden!
A unisex knit uniting images of people of all faiths. Political correctness gone mad? Or a really new and fun Christmas pullover?
I’m sure as readers of this blog you all have your own traditions, of gathering, of eating, and of giving. May you each one enjoy the day and don’t get too upset if it does not quite match up with that stored up memory of the perfect childhood Christmas. Each year it will be a little different however much we try to keep it the same. Traditions like Christmas paper can be stored, reused, or even thrown away to make room for something else.