There is nothing like a special family ritual, especially one that involves Christmas. Being a fussy family our Christmas tree erection comes with rules as well as rituals. It must be a live tree; for the smell, (we’ve fallen into buying the tree from the same charity each year). It can only be erected when the whole family are present. It should be bought the first weekend in December. This week we had a minor adjustment as Oli wasn’t back from Schoolies the first weekend in December, so we had to do it Monday afternoon
Oli secures the tree to the car (benefits of having a 6ft 2inch son)
We also seem to have fallen into roles over the years. I have become the enthusiast and keeper of the Christmas rituals, Nicola has moved to all things purely decorative. Oliver does a bit of whatever is needed (and heavy lifting) and Mark is king of the practical and becomes the true family elf, wielding the vacuum cleaner and cherry pipper.
One of our favourite rituals which I can recommend to anyone with young children has been the selection and purchase of one new Christmas ornament for each child every year. As we unpack the box Nicola and Oliver re-discover the ornaments that they have chosen (or made) over the past 15 or so years to be part of the Christmas tree. Another tradition is that the first ornament on the tree is the Christmas Angel, which Oli and Nicki put up together. (their technique has changed a bit over the years)
Another tradition is the Bing Crosby CD which used to be on a perpetual loop, until Nicola imposed a limit of one play only. We now have Bing Crosby interspersed with Sufjan Stevens, Paul Kelly, Otis Redding and Joni Mitchell, all loosely linked into the Christmas theme.
One highlight of the pre- Christmas season is a dinner at Araliya
. It is our favourite local restaurant and a first choice for birthdays or special nights. The food is a wonderful combination of fragrant Sri Lankan dishes. They have a tradition which I am not aware of for any other restaurant in Melbourne, each Christmas they host a small function for some of their loyal and long term customers and treat us to a special Christmas dinner. It is a reflection of their generosity which is evident in every aspect of the way they run Araliya. Those of us who are lucky enough to get an invitation look forward to it every year.
This is the beginning of a wonderful, drawn out few weeks of anticipation. There’s no special food tonight, as after the Christmas tree decorations we had leftover Paella and a cheese platter. However, we savoured our special family time, even though, just for a change, it didnt revolve around lots of cooking for me! But now we are getting in gear for Nanny’s Christmas cake, twice baked ham, special Christmas Morning Berry Breakfast and lots of other yummy food and family traditions.
Recipes for these to come as they get made.