This post is by regular contributor Sarah Bendeich of Oesch & Doots.
We live a plane ride away from our extended family, and when our kids arrived we decided that we would alternate our Christmas locations between our here and there. So we have two very contrasting Christmas experiences.
A typical ‘home’ Christmas is small, intimate and low-key with a focus on spending time together as a family and preparing beautiful food (did you know we have the best produce in the world here in Tasmania?) The house smells like pine needles, sunshine and shortbread and a big bowl of cherries sits on the table. Lazy summer days with new books to read, bushwalking and visits to the beach.
This year it’s an ‘away’ Christmas which means it’ll be jam packed with people – our large and wonderful families who open their homes and their arms to us at this special time. Lots of grown-up conversation and catching up. Living out of a suitcase and sleeping in twin beds in my husband’s boyhood bedroom. Trying to squeeze all the Christmas presents into that suitcase at the end of it all. For the kids, it’s all about grandparents, cousins, late nights, train rides, tram rides and new places to explore.
There will be no Christmas tree at our place this year, and Santa won’t be squeezing down our chimney. We won’t decide to take our feast up to the foothills of Mt Wellington for an impromptu picnic to gaze over the city and the sparkling harbour. But there are some things which have become traditions which we will hang on to… home or away. So, our top 5 Christmas traditions (as voted by our family, and in no particular order) are:
1. Making shortbread with our friends
Last year we invited our mothers group friends over for a big session of rolling, cutting and baking shortbread. Each child went home with a box full! I would love to make this a tradition – there’s nothing quite like getting everyone around a big table, aprons on, rolling pins in hands. This year we’ll be making extra for homeless people in our community.
2. Making an advent calendar
Last year the kids loved the advent calendar. I used a scribbled-upon scribble pad to make little pockets containing an activity for each day. Each pocket was a little work of art and it cost nothing! This year I’ve scoured the net – there are lots of great ideas out there – and landed on this beautiful, simple idea – watercolour resist paintings made into folded paper dolls. Each apron has an activity written on the underside. It’s from Jean at The Artful Parent.
Christmas time is when Tasmania’s cherries and berries are at their peak. Even on our away years, we don’t go without cherries. We order a couple of 2kg boxes and they fly with us to Melbourne. We sometimes take lobster too. It’s no wonder everyone’s so happy to see us!
I love handmade gifts, and do my best to give handmade when I can. Last December I made six Oliver + S Lazy Days skirts (free pattern here) for nieces and little friends, aged between 4 and 10. They were all lovingly received and worn, and that has spurred me on to make more gifts this year.
We’ll be rolling beeswax candles (like these) and decorating them for teachers. I have lots of ideas for everyone on my list – little sewing kits, peg fairy kits, a play mat with roads, napkins, place mats, book covers… should have started in June 🙂
This was a little surprise that came out of the blue last year – Doots announced that she was writing to Santa. At four, it was the first letter she’d ever written and I was amazed by her determination. Nothing like the promise of presents for a bit of motivation!
Since the Christmas pageant last weekend, when Oesch (2) caught a glimpse of Santa from on top of Stephen’s shoulders, he’s been talking about ‘whiting a letter to Santa’. I suppose that’s how new traditions are formed. I wonder what happens to all of those letters anyway?
Wishing you all the best for this exciting time of year. Do you have any special traditions – old or new – that you wouldn’t miss for anything?