I have Christmas carols playing in my house today, and I’m making sausage rolls, a family Christmas tradition for generations, and it got me thinking fondly of Christmases past. Today I feel a wave of nostalgia for those sweltering Aussie Christmas days, where the temperature topped 100 degrees, and yet my scarlet-faced mother somehow produced that giant Christmas turkey with all the trimmings, followed by the traditional English Christmas pudding, doused with brandy and set aflame before being brought to the table amid oohs and aahs of delight. A heavy winter meal on a day only fit for a light snack and a dip in the pool, and yet we ate and ate and ate! Here, where the icy, silent beauty of the snow gives Christmas an ethereal beauty, it is easy to follow the traditions, although the turkey has become beef, and my mother’s sublime Christmas pudding recipe somehow doesn’t work when I get my hands on it, so I buy what I can from the European supermarket, but it still arrives at the table with blue flames dancing, and my adult children still ooh and aah as if it were magic, perhaps not knowing, as I know now, that it really is. I close my eyes and I am miles and years away, clinking a glass with my Mum, sipping her one glass a year of green ginger wine, and my dear, departed Dad, sipping his one glass a year of exquisite Para port and holding rigidly to the old traditions. Bless him – they’re my traditions now, and I am quietly fierce about them too. I reluctantly accept some little changes, because that’s what happens when kids grow and go, but Christmas must be Christmas, with all its funny little moments, and I hold on tenaciously.
In honor of Aussie Christmases, where Santa still inexplicably wears that ridiculous suit, and isn’t really supposed to say “Ho, Ho, Ho” in malls since someone decided it was derogatory to women. ;0) In honor of the families who finally figured out that a barbie on the beach with prawns, salad, too much beer, and pavlova to follow, is a smarter way to go; and in honor of the traditionalists who faint with heat exhaustion as they finally get that damn turkey on the Christmas table, I say Merry Christmas and I feel an odd longing to be wilting through summer Christmas with you this year.
And Danny…I miss you so, and I want you at my Christmas table next year, laughing with your siblings and completing a picture that always has one empty space in it. We should make that magic happen. We can.
Winter Christmas preparations resume now, and I truly am joyful as I go, but today I am singing a little Aussie Christmas song called “Carol of the Birds” and feeling the heat and the haze and the humidity of all my Christmases past.