Ancestors at the Table
As the busy season of Christmas descends upon us once more (at an ever increasing rate) I sit down to write up my Christmas lunch menu and various other bits and bobs that make up our Christmas Day. It dawns on me that I now have snippets of Christmases past in my repertoire. A way of remembering dear family members now departed, they are taking on greater significance.

My grandmothers “hard sauce” and Christmas pudding, my mother in laws special roast potatoes and absolutely sublime mince pies – none since ever come close! Good old fashioned gravy that my mother taught me to make more years ago than I care to remember, mums trifle and her “party susan” of which I am now custodian, always filled with treats of cashews and scorched almonds among other things. And now a new generation is adding their touches. My daughter who lives in USA has added her favourite American dish – green bean casserole.

It all comes together in a delicious feast full of love and memories that make our Christmas Day extra special.
Contributed by VW Glenorie

Santa in a Hurry
As Christmas approaches and all the frantic shopping and preparations begin, it is sometimes lovely to look back at the funny episodes of Christmases past. They are not always funny at the time! A favourite one in our family is from when our children were very young and Santa was bringing a surprise swing set – you know, the green pipes and yellow seat kind!

Santa had been working very hard right up until Christmas Eve and with nowhere to conceal a fully assembled swing set, had to wait for that special time when children have gone to sleep.

Unfortunately, with the excitement, that was not long before sunset.

Everyone who has ever assembled a swing set knows it is never as quick as you think it will be. Despite Santa being very handy, the fading light on our completely dark property beat him in the end.

He managed to assemble the swing set so it looked perfect but without tightening the nuts and bolts.

The following morning, bright and early, our delighted children saw their Christmas present and went to run and climb on it.

We told them that Daddy should check it first to make sure Santa had done up the bolts tight enough! Can you believe it? Santa must have been in a hurry to deliver everyone’s toys and didn’t have time to finish!

Lucky Daddy checked.
I still recall standing on the back verandah for 15mins with two excited children watching while Daddy finished Santa’s work.

However, our story is not unique. To all those parents and care givers who will finish Santa’s work this year Merry Christmas!
Contributed by YS Arcadia

Christmas Day in the 1970’s A Quintessential Aussie Christmas
As a child Christmas Day was always so wonderful. My parents didn’t have much money to spend on us but we never went without! Even if it meant mum was still sewing our special Christmas presents at midnight. There is an 8 year gap between me and my sister but we managed to somehow get matching, handmade outfits for Christmas most years. Oh, my sister and I still laugh about it today. Mum still thinks it was a great idea.

Our day would begin with a visit to one of our neighbours’ homes with a Tuppaware ‘party susan’ filled to the brim with liquorice allsorts, peanuts, pretzels, chocolates, glace cherries, Christmas cake etc.

After the morning session with the neighbours, it was the big rush to get to my Nan and Pop’s at Fairfield. A whole 5 minute’s drive which, at the time, I thought very far!

Once at my grandparent’s house it was time for more fun times with my cousins and, being the eldest grandchild, I got to dole out all the presents out with my Uncle Ernie who played Santa. They had a huge back yard with chickens, bird aviaries, vegetables, fruit trees and lots of room to run. Before lunch we had sack races, played lots of energetic games and took the yearly family Christmas photo. Loads of delicious food was to be consumed for lunch, everyone contributed in some way, and even better were the deserts, cakes, chocolates and lollies for afterwards, when your tummy couldn’t possibly fit another thing in and was almost bursting. Wonderful Christmas memories!
Contributed by DW Dural

A Bold Move
Christmas means different things to different people and sometimes it is the recollections of Christmases past that mean more to us now than the actual celebration itself.

One of the Christmases I most remember was the one when my uncle took my cousin and I to see the David Jones Christmas Pageant and decorations to meet Father Christmas in the Sydney store.

As like today these events are usually packed out and the queue for admission stretched around the block to gain entrance through the main doors. Of course being Sydney in December it was hot and humid and we kids were growing restless with the waiting and whingey at not being able to get drinks or ice creams to cool down.

My uncle, who was a very enterprising man, took one look at the queue and sized up the situation. He marched us up to the front of the queue where he spoke sympathetically to frustrated and frazzled the young Mother waiting with a brood of children.

“Excuse me Madam” he says “you and your children look hot and tired with all this waiting to get in. I’ll mind your spot while you go and get some refreshment for yourself and the children so you will be bursting with energy to carry on”.

The mother fell for it and happily let us in while she and her children set off in search of cooling drinks.

Needless to say although my cousin and I were happy to have beaten the crowd to enter the wonderland that was David Jones Christmas fantasy and overawed with the spectacular event, we did feel we had tricked the other family out of their rightful place so we could go in first.

Years later my Uncle confided he arranged with the door Concierge that when the lady returned she should be let in and I hope that was the case. The joy of Christmas is in the giving which is in the spirit and heart of it.

Have a Merry One everyone.
Contributed by Kerron May

Celebrating the longest Christmas Season
Some are surprised when they see their neighbours in Australia, decorating their homes from early November. My birth country, the Philippines, excitedly celebrates the start of the season from the 1st of September. Yes, the malls start decorating and playing Christmas carols and traditional paper lanterns (called parols) light up the streets and homes.

I remember our highlight wasn’t about expensive presents on Christmas Day but rather a greater significance was placed on traditions such as ‘Misa de Galla’;daily dawn masses which we would start attending from the 16th of December. If you complete the full 9 days before the Christmas Eve mass we believed that our Christmas wishes would come true.

‘Noche Buena’ is the family feast we would traditionally have after midnight mass on Christmas Eve, with special dishes reserved only for that time of year. I miss going around homes with my youth group, singing Christmas carols.

These happy memories from my childhood help remind me about being kind, thoughtful and to remain cheerful.

Contributed by Zumba Nina, Galston