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Friday, December 9, 2011

Return of the Christmas Spirit...

I'm feeling very Christmassy this year. I've finally found the right settings on my oven and have been baking every chance I get. I've been shopping locally and early to avoid any unnecessary present-buying anxiety and I've even given in to neighbourly pressure and installed some solar Christmas lights!
This resurgence of Christmas spirit has really bought home to me just how hard the past few Christmases without Mum and Dad have really been. When I look back now I've endured the last three Christmases rather than celebrated them. I've put on a brave face for the kids but in all honesty I've been relieved when the day itself is over and I've managed to hold it together. Things haven't been made any easier by having to spend parts of the past three Christmas/ New Year periods in the Emergency Department of the local hospital with Henry battling to breath after severe asthma attacks (a tradition I'm really not that keen to continue!).

So this year I'm hoping to start afresh. Rather than trying not to think about Christmases past I've leapt right in and bought a real Christmas tree for the first time in years. Surely nothing smells more like Christmas in Australia than a good old pine tree? Last year that smell would have reduced me to tears but this year it's helping me bridge the before and after grief gap. Decorating the tree with the kids is also balm for the soul. It's such a special time especially as we bring out each ornament and talk about where it came from, who made it or who gave it to us. I have a soft spot for two ornaments (a stocking and a bauble) that I made using a 'stained glass' craft kit when I was about eight but my favourite decorations are these funny little reindeer. The reindeer faces were made by tracing around the kids feet and the antlers by cutting around an outline of their hands or stamping them in paint. Henry's was made when he was only one year old so it is teensy tiny and it reminds me how important it is to grasp every moment of their childhood before it slips away.

So how are your Christmas preparations coming along? Do you have any favourite rituals to help kick-start the Christmas season? Any fabulous Christmas baking recipes I should know about?


  1. I'm so glad to hear about your resurgence of Christmas spirit Caz and that you are making such happy Christmas memories for your family as well as celebrating past ones.

    The reindeer decorations are a wonderful cute...

    I was well along with my plans until succumbing to a horrible virus this week...but I'm sure everything will be ok in time...the most important thing is everyone being thankfully time off has all been arranged...

    The ritual buying of the tree is already done...but it's yet to be decorated... I love getting all the decorations out...some homemade like the paper angel Hannah made at primary school that gets more fragile each year...ones we bought with Ahmad's parents or gifted ones that each have a tale to tell. A Christmas tree mama bought us years ago and planted out after Christmas is still growing strong in the garden. Oh and I've got out the paper snowflakes I made last year and couldn't bare to throw away.

    Recipe-wise I'll be making my usual soused christmas cake...but may take some inspiration from you and add chocolate...Hannah's actually got next weekend off and coming home, we hope to squeeze in making a ginger bread house...then she's back again on Christmas eve...

    Oh and the must have ritual is Christmas morning scrambled eggs and smoked salmon with champagne and orange's such a lovely indulgent start to the holiday weekend...

    Love the cooky cutter...

  2. Thanks Deb. Sorry to hear that you've been laid low by a virus. So very inconvenient at this time of year! Hopefully it will pass quickly and you'll be feeling up to that champagne and orange juice on Chritmas morning.

    How lovely that you have a real tree from your mama still growing outside. I'm so glad you saved the snowflakes from last year too - far too beautiful to throw out!

    Like you we're hoping to squeeze in some gingerbread house making but give that the kids are at school/ daycare right up until 23 Dec that means it's next weekend or never! I've let the Christmas cake go this year as I was lucky enough to win The Australian Ballet Society Christmas hamper which included lots of homemade goodies including a cake, a pudding, fruit chutney and strawberry jam along with the usual champagne, water crackers, cheese and quince paste (and two tickets to the movies!) - lucky me! Still hoping to make some panpepatto and speculaas before the season is over and maybe some chocolate, orange and hazelnut truffles for good measure.

    Take care and get well soon xx

    P.S: The cookie cutters are from IKEA

  3. What a great present for you - getting the hamper. Full of delights.
    I have somehow been allocated the venue for the extended family Christmas this year so have become list bound to reduce stress.
    Bronte made some lovely shortbread for the first time which is good as Gary's mum made the best shortbread and mince pies so someone needs to carry on the tradition. I make rum balls which are dedicated to my mum!
    I miss her terribly at Christmas but being busy with cooking and the unconditional love and joy of my children has always been a great healing factor.

  4. Yes indeed, here's to a wonderful Christmas!! (you certainly deserve many happy times).

    My Christmas plans are going OK, I've almost finished wrapping presents and plan on doing some baking tomorrow.

  5. Helen

    Thanks for your kind words. I know that you of all people know how I feel at Christmas and Mother's Day. I think it's lovely that you are carrying on family traditions through baking. Mum wasn't much of a baker but my nana certainly was and when I make shortbread using rice flour I always think of her. Merry Christmas Helen.

  6. Hello Tracey! I've missed you! I've just taken my first tentative steps in the Twitter-verse (Birdwiththegold) so I'm looking forwardmto following you there. I hope that you and your family have a lovely Christmas and that the New Year brings many new and exciting opportunities your way. Tweet you soon...

  7. Love the cookie cutter! This year I tried something different, going for fudges and shortbread. I always though it needed rice flour, but the recipe that came with my stamp only uses plain flour- they still taste lovely though! I'll be blogging about my baking exploits soon,'s not that long since Christmas, right? ;-)
    Oh, and I envy you your real pine tree...that's a beautiful Christmassy smell!
    I do feel sorry for the poor trees though, so maybe next year I'll ask if I can chop a bough off a tree at my parents' house- they have a small forest, and that way I wouldn't be killing a tree, just pruning it. ;-)