Sunday, December 9, 2012

My 2012 Christmas Geneameme

2012 Geneameme - We Wish you a Merry Christmas

Thankyou to Pauleen (cassmob) of the Family Across the Seas Blog for her kind effort in putting together a Christmas Geneameme. Christmas is a time of the year so much centred on family, so what better a time to think about the traditions and activities which were a part of your own life growing up as well as your own family now. So below is my personal Geneameme in answer to Pauleen's questions.

1. Do you have any special Christmas traditions in your family. 
Growing up in Queensland, Christmas time was often spent at the Sunshine coast where my maternal grandmother lived. Christmas lunch was cold meats and salads galore and my mother's home baked Christmas cake, pudding and fruit mince pies with a special brandy sauce. When we spent Christmas day with my Irish maternal grandmother who lived at Paddington Heights, in Brisbane, Christmas lunch was a hot traditional lunch and always followed by her unforgettable home made ice cream with a Christmas pudding made from a recipe which came with her family from Ireland when they arrived in Australia in 1912. 

Now that I have my own family, we have carried on the tradition of having a cold Christmas lunch which suits the hot Australian climate much better than a hot meal. We bake the ham and roast the meats on Christmas Eve to place sliced on platters on Christmas day which are accompanied by lots of different salads. Dessert has become quite a tradition since my daughters spent a Christmas in New York some years ago. They always make a traditional Pumpkin Pie. We have many allergies to foods in our family so we don't have a Christmas pudding made from mixed fruit. Along with the pumpkin pie we have a dessert called Plum Clafouti, ( our version of a plum pudding) always baked by Siobhan, Pavlova ( it IS an Australian tradition!) a big fruit platter with all the delicious Summer fruits and berries on it as well as a Gingerbread House which is demolished throughout the afternoon. When my children were younger, we were dragged out of bed before 5 am to 'see what Santa has brought'. (Hmm I never would have guessed!) 
We play Christmas carols as we bake and there is a lot of laughter in the kitchen!
One tradition that we have in my home is the decorating of the Christmas tree. We play Christmas carols while we decorate the tree. Each year we try to think of a theme for the tree.
An important tradition in my family is to give to someone less fortunate each Christmas. We buy gifts for children who will not receive anything for Christmas and each Christmas we think together of someone to help. At Christmas time we have sponsored children through World Vision. This Christmas, as we did last year we will all make a loan through an organisation called Kiva. 

2. Is Church attendance an important part of you Christmas celebrations and do you go the evening before or on Christmas day?
My children attended Catholic Schools so Church attendance was always an important part of our Christmas. I love Midnight Mass and then when arriving home having fruit mince pies and listening to Christmas carols. there was so much excitement in the air. It's a wonder anyone got to sleep at all. Going to Church on Christmas day at Mass was always a favourite with my children as all the children were invited up onto the alter to see the baby Jesus who had been placed in his crib in the manger. 

3. Did you or your children/grandchildren believe in Santa?
I believed in Santa as a child but when I had my own children, I decided that it was better not to lie to them. FORTUNATELY, my husband didn't agree and I am so glad that they grew up with Santa. My children were very creative and every single Christmas they ALL four of them left Santa a letter and a list of questions (usually very long). And every single year Santa kindly replied (in very scrawly writing co- incidentally in a very similar style to my own!) and answered EVERY question. I have all those letters and we often pull them out and have a good laugh. "What are the name of your children Santa?" "What is Mrs Clause's favourite colour?" "Which is your favourite reindeer?" "Do you wear socks Santa?" "What do you wear the rest of the year?"  I'm betting that none of YOU know what Santa's attire is when it's not Christmas.....My first grandchild is only 7 1/2 months old but I hope she will grow up believing in Santa as well.... and I will definitely be suggesting she write to him!!!!!!

4. Do you go carolling in your area? The suburb where I live has a Carols by Candlelight event every year and I have often attended, candle in hand,  but I have never been carolling in the street. My children and I have often gathered together on Christmas Eve with guitars, flutes, piano, banjos etc and played and sung Christmas carols. I have CD's of Christmas carols playing in my home for all of December. LOUDLY! I like to get into the Christmas spirit.

5.What's your favourite Christmas music? I come from a very musical family. I love Christmas carols in general. I have a CD playing right now...  "All I want for Christmas"  sung by Mariah Carey, which was a hit in one of my favourite Christmas movies, "Love Actually". 

6. What is your favourite Christmas Carol? I think my favourite carol would be "When a Child is Born", especially when sung by Il Divo. I also love a Christmas song called "This is Christmas" sung by Kate Ceberano and Ronan Keating. It is a beautiful song. 

7. Do you have a special Christmas movie/book you like to watch/ read?  I had a special Christmas story book as a child and so did my children. it was called "The Night before Christmas". "Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse..." 

8. Does your family give individual gifts, gifts for the littlies only, Secret Santa, (aka Kris Kringle)?
When my children were at primary school, it was a tradition for each class to give Kris Kringle gifts. That was a highlight in their year. At home they had Santa sacks with presents from Santa and a wrapped gift from us. Now we all give each other gifts. I found it hard to give up the Santa sack tradition, although I am pleased that they finally realised that really Santa didn't spend a lot more money on them that I did!

9. Is your main Christmas meal indoors or outdoors, at home or away?
For many years, as my children grew up we shared Christmas with a large extended family ( up to 60 people) and we never had Christmas lunch at our own home. For the past few years we have had a smaller Christmas in our home. We have our main meal in the middle of the day but have delicious nibbles put out all morning. We have bought a large table now which seats the whole family plus partners. 

Answered in question 1.(Christmas Food.)

14. Do you give home-made food/craft for gifts at Christmas?
I used to give home made gifts but find I no longer have the time to bake, sew or make gifts. Sad really. One year I hand painted lovely jars and filled them with home made biscuits. Another Christmas I made hand made writing paper (I even made the paper!) and decorated it with each person's initials and flowers painted on it. When my children were younger we made calendars which they drew and painted on each month, although two years of that task and they rebelled! I used to do quite a lot of silk screening so I made gifts which I silk screened original pictures onto or T-shirts with silk screened artworks on. These days I buy all my gifts but at least one daughter has carried on my tradition (yes you guessed it - Siobhan - who made the gingerbread Christmas tree decorations). She bakes beautiful shortbread and gingerbread or cakes to give as gifts to her friends. I used to bake gingerbread decorations each year for the Christmas tree until one year my son, Hamish made himself very sick when he ate every decoration in one sitting!  

2012 gIngerbread cookie decorations

15. Do you return to your family for Christmas or vice versa?
Both of my parents passed away quite some years ago in Brisbane, Queensland, sadly. My children do not remember spending Christmas with them. We spent a few Christmas days with one of my sisters when she lived in Sydney at Hunter's Hill. Those were very special Christmas days. Each Christmas is spent with members of my husband's family. 

16. Is your Christmas celebrated differently from your childhood ones? If yes, how does it differ? 
My childhood Christmases were almost always spent away from home since my maternal grandmother lived at Maroochydore, a beach on the Queensland Sunshine Coast. My cousins and I always performed musical items for our parents and grandparents at a pre Christmas gathering. often my father who was a brilliant pianist would join in as well as my uncle who played the clarinet and saxophone.  My sisters and I practised harmonised songs to sing. Christmas was always very musical.
My children are convinced that it has been my dream to have them perform together playing musical instruments and singing. ( Well you can't say I didn't try!) The only time they do this is at Christmas and I love hearing them. it reminds me of my own Christmases as a child.

17. How do you celebrate Christmas with your friends?
The street where I live, until recently every year had a Christmas street party. Everyone took along something on a plate and drinks. It was a wonderful way to meet new people in the street. We tend to celebrate Christmas more with family than with friends, although there are usually a few Christmas 'drinks' or parties to attend. I try to meet up with friends for coffee before Christmas to catch up on 'news'.

18. Do you decorate the house with lights? A little or a lot?
I decorate the inside of the house and decorating the Christmas tree has been a special tradition involving Christmas carols and plenty of fun. 

19. Is your neighbourhood a 'Christmas Lights" tour venue?
My own neighbourhood is not one where many people put lights on their houses but  a neighbouring suburb attracts thousands of visitors to view the amazing streets of Christmas lights every Christmas. I love to drive by and have a look. Some of the homes have a 'wishing well' to donate money for charities. 

20. Does your family attend Carols by candlelight singalong/concerts?
When my children were younger we always went to Carols by candlelight events. My suburb has one every year held in The Village Green (a large park). A nearby Seventh Day Adventist Hospital conducts  carols by Candlelight evening each December which my youngest daughter Briallen, has sung at. 

21. Have any of your Christmases been spent camping?
Camping is a popular way to holiday in the great outdoors of Australia and although I have camped many times as  child I have never spent a Christmas camping.

22. Is Christmas spent at your home, with family or at a holiday venue?
At home or at the home of a family member.

23. Do you have snow for Christmas where you live?
In Australia, Christmas occurs in the Summer season so it is usually very hot weather. The backyard swimming pool is very popular on Christmas day! One of my daughters' favourite Christmases was spent in New Jersey, USA a few years ago when there was a heavy snowfall. They built a snowman in the front yard and ice skated in Central park. My daughter, Rhiannon now lives in new York so perhaps she will see snow for Christmas.

24.Do you have a Christmas tree every year?
Absolutely! We have made it a tradition in my family to think of a theme for the tree each year. That does mean that we have collected a lot of decorations but we do recycle and it is amazing how easily you can turn the simplest thing into a decoration. this year the theme is 'French Rustic'. We have used lots of hessian for bows on the tree and natural decorations, keeping the colour scheme simple - natural and white with a touch of silver. Last year our theme was 'birds' and the year before that it was 'a winter wonderland'. 

25. Is your tree a live tree or an imitation?
There is nothing more 'christmasy'  than the smell of a fresh pine tree at Christmas but unfortunately I and several of my children are allergic to pine trees so our tree has to be an imitation tree. I have tried to make sure it is as realistic as possible. As a child our tree was always real. (I sneezed a lot at Christmas!) and we used to drive to the Glasshouse Mountains and cut down a small tree from the pine plantations. I'm sure now, looking back that those trees were not meant to be taken by the public but that night time excursion was always a highlight of my growing up. I guess I'm a bona fide Christmas tree thief! Not surprising seeing I have 5 convicts in my past.......

26. Do you have special Christmas tree decorations? 
See question 25.

27. What is more important to your family, Christmas or Thanksgiving?
In Australia we don't celebrate Thanksgiving so Christmas is very important as a time for families to celebrate together. Since I have become good friends with new found cousins (third) in America, however, Thanksgiving has taken on a whole new meaning for me! 


  1. I loved reading this, Sharn. Musical talent can certainly have a big impact on Christmas traditions!

  2. What a great response Sharn with so many treasured family memories. I can see that Christmas must be a very happy time in your household. I did chuckle over your sneezy Xmas even though it wouldn't have been fun. How wonderful to have such a musical family -we too play carols as we decorate the tree and sometimes we even sing -but there's no one to frighten but ourselves. I hope you have a great Christmas and Rhiannon gets to see snow and go ice skating.

    I think you should put up some photos of your themed Xmas tree ;-)

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