Ham + Turkey Town

I seem to be enjoying Christmas more and more now that I have two kids. This is yet another cliche I’m living up to. When people used to say that one enjoys Christmas more when there are kids around, I used to think they were just mouthing platitudes and reifying families, etc. To put things in perspective, I was dead against having children until I hit about 32 years old. Then I got curious. Then I got keen.

Since we came to Australia in 1973, we’ve always had a big Christmas day lunch, tree, and given each other presents with various sets of relatives. Prior to arriving in Australia, I’d never experienced a celebration of Christmas at all; it wasn’t exactly a big day on the Malaysian calendar. Growing up in Brisbane, Christmas often took place within a whirl of broader clan events that, more often than not, brought with it a fair share of angst. For example, school reports were often out by then and various uncles/aunts/cousins were obscenely interested in what everyone got for everything. I hated the way we were compared, especially as there were two other cousins who were exactly the same age as me.

Our 2010 Christmas tree, with elves.

Since my immediate family alighted in Melbourne in 2004, we’ve created our own tradition. We spend the morning at home (usually madly prepping dishes and cooking), then have lunch at my sister’s place (this takes more hours than you’d think), then have a stroll down to the beach or pier (token effort in the midst of chronic over-eating), and mosey home around dinner time.

Post-Xmas-lunch saunter to the beach

As with many people these days, we’ve tried to cut down on over-consumption, packaging and general exchange of stuff. Over the years, this has led to perpetual Christmas tags (handcrafted ones, decorated by one of the kids, to be re-used year to year by all the regular Christmas punters), swags of fantastic homemade produce (my brother and his wife give out the BEST hampers; this year: berry jam, preserved cherries, a whole loaf of brioche and an entire berry frangipani tart [all made by them]), a year where we only gave gifts sourced from op-shops or hand-made, and less wrapping/ribboning as time goes on. All of these changes have proven to be fun to accommodate and made us even more aware of our choices/biases. I like the idea of what Miscellaneous Mum does, too, with her Christmas card challenge. I went digital with more than half of my cards this year, and want to improve on that next year.

The quantity of food at our Christmas lunches, however, has never really changed. It has always been abundant, with many leftovers that are happily squirrelled away for the following week. I’m a big fan of baked whole salmon as the sandwiches made from the leftover salmon (with a smidge of good mayo and spring onion or finely chopped celery) are always fab. Ditto turkey and ham. So, though we do indulge in a lot of food, none of it gets wasted (says she as she finishes off the last of the berry frangipani tart with a glug of homemade creme anglaise).

We tend to stay put around this time of the year. I see many friends and relatives making their way to the beach/mountains for their annual holidays, and am occasionally envious of the freedom from home routines and demands (not to mention gorgeous views and sunsets…). That said, I like that our family comes together often during this time when most of us are on leave, and have the opportunity to have leisurely chats and just hang out.

Everyone’s already asking after New Year’s Eve plans and I can tell you what ours are. It’s very much a tradition S. and I have had since we’ve gotten together (about twenty years ago now): we stay home, watch trashy movies, and see in the new year just with each other. It’s a nice way to reconnect after the frenzy of socialisation, preparation and activity during most of December.


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