Tia is a regular contributor on our Facebook page and she willingly took up the ‘Christmas Dreaming’ writing challenge that I set a few days ago. I posted the following photos and suggested that my talented writers use the images as writing inspirations – to write a 1000-word (or thereabouts) short story or the like. Tia chose to write a little essay piece about what Christmas means to her and why. So here, on the Eve of Christmas, I thought I would share it with you all.
Thanks for sharing your sentiments with us, Tia.
I hope everyone has a very happy festive season! Take care and see you all in 2015!!
Identifying an Australian Christmas for me
by Tia Henderson
I’m dreaming of a warm, sunbathed Christmas with lots of multicultural food and sharing quality time with the family. That’s an Australian Christmas is to me!
In Australia we are not burdened with rules and expectations of what an acceptable Christmas celebration is. Each person or family are able to choose his or her own traditions, and I love that! I love that we have the freedom to explore options of how we celebrate this time of the year – to me that enables creativity to thrive and I take great pleasure in exploiting that aspect of an Aussie Christmas!
We are lucky to be geographically placed in the Southern Hemisphere which means we celebrate Christmas during Summer, hence – generally speaking – the warm weather. This lends itself to so many options for a very Merry Australian Christmas.
Outside activities, multicultural food, various religions or beliefs … our options are in abundance, there are no hard and fast rules. It is unique to live in a country that offers so many choices, so much diversity!
What is important to me – and I believe is shared by my immediate family – is the indulgence of good food. Each year we discuss the Christmas menu as a family and then choose a cuisine for that year. We are so fortunate to live in a multicultural society, we really embrace this aspect of living in Australia and with so many more food options accessible, we love to take advantage of this and make it a part of our Christmas feasting.
Consuming fine food and gathering together to enjoy, share, and indulge in gorgeous food with family is almost spiritual for me. As a family we do not share a traditional ‘expectation’ of the day. However, over the years we have all enjoyed working out what we will eat together at Christmas and each has a role to play in bringing this together – that is how we celebrate the festive season!
Another important aspect is the style and presentation of the day not in a pretentious, opulent way but in a way that creates a lovely, relaxed, comfortable and visually enjoyable setting. I don’t spend a fortune and I visit op shops (a luxury of mine at any time) to find special things to add to the table for Christmas. It has become quite a tradition for me, and one I thoroughly enjoy!
It is other family members who enjoy the cooking, so they have that and I get to enjoy creating the ambience. I am more than happy to take a back seat in the on the cooking front and letting others create their specialities – it helps that they are very talented at this task – and I spend a ridiculous amount of time working on the vibe and feel of the day.
Sharing gifts is of course part of our day, but I enjoy the creative aspect of this ‘task’. I love to make personalised crackers; I look for each person’s present and it becomes a really enjoyable mission… and one I have pursued with an enormous amount of enjoyment!
There are so many different ways of celebrating and people love to hear what each other are up too. I desperately try to ignore all the cliché Christmas fanfare that hangs around us every year in the shops, on the radio and TV stations. The playing of ‘I am dreaming of a White Christmas’ (which I might add is most unlikely to happen), is something I simply can’t understand. My Christmas is dreaming of alfresco dining, sharing food with the whole family and simply enjoying each other!
The family getting together enjoying various forms of dining may sound quite superficial and not particularly symbolic for a day that is supposed to be a celebration of the birth of Christ. But what I like about celebrating Christmas in Australia is that it is okay not to be traditional that everyone can have their own spin on what Christmas means to them and how they spend that day is their choice. We are not so defined by specific ways of doing things because we are so culturally diverse, how marvellous is that?! But we still celebrate.
Caring about family is spiritual and important to me even if it is only done once a year, then mission accomplished – that is my religion!
Celebrating Christmas in Australia is so unique. When people discuss what they are going to do on Christmas day there are so many different ways of doing it! Some do the traditional meet up with various family members at their homes, some visit their religious places of worship, some take holidays at the beach, some go camping and celebrate that way, some help out at charity events and share that time helping strangers, some decide to spend it alone! Yes this is also done in other countries but we do it in summer, we are unique, we are Australia!
I would like to think that we have our own little tradition, our own unique way of doing the Christmas Day celebrations. I love that, I hope you do too!