Saturday, December 19, 2009

For Jamie

One of my favorite American friends (Jamie) kindly asked if I'd do research on Australian Christmas and Chanukah traditions. Jamie is very interested in religious and holiday customs.

I wanted to please my friend....well, because I love her. But I felt a bit lazy about doing research on the subject. Plus, I think I've looked before, and I don't remember finding all that much. Or maybe that was wedding customs I looked at. I forget.

Anyway, I came up with a BETTER idea. I figured maybe people who read this blog could share their traditions. I know some of you are Australian, some are American, and some of you are neither. We can talk about our traditions. We can share and compare. If you don't want to share, that's okay. I shall still love you. But if you do share, I might love you a tiny bit more. Is that being too manipulative? Probably.

First, I'll share what I already know (or think I know) about the Australian December. First of all, it's summer at that time. There's no snow. We were in Port Stephens for Christmas 2007. I don't remember much. We ate a Christmas food that I picked up at the grocery store. Now I've forgotten exactly what it is. It was some type of cream. I thought you were supposed to eat it plain, but some kind Aussie tourist explained that you put it on cake/pudding.

I know in Australia, they do Christmas, and then Boxing Day on the 26th. In Sydney, there is the big Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. It's now sponsored by Rolex. Has it always been?

I think maybe Australians say Father Christmas instead of Santa Claus. I could be wrong about this.

I've heard that Australians go the seafood route, and often spend Christmas on the beach.

There are special Aussie Christmas songs. I've heard of The Three Drovers and Six White Booomers.

That's about all I know.

I'm going to share MY holiday traditions....because I'm so vain. Heaven forbid I do a post without talking about myself. Then I'm going to ask some questions that I hope you guys will answer.

When I was a child, we did the eight nights of Chanukah thing. Every night, my dad would light the Menorah and we'd sing the prayers. Then we'd sing the Dreidel song, and a really beautiful song called Maoz Tzur. I love that song. Wow. And I love the video that I just linked to. It features children from a variety of ethnic groups singing it. They sing so beautifully. I'm about to get goosebumps. I love the solo part.

After we did the candles and sang, we opened one gift each. Now a lot of Christian folks say Jews are lucky because we get eight nights instead of their one night. I kind of suspect you goyim are just trying to make us feel better because we don't get Santa Claus, a tree, candy canes, mistletoe....and Jesus is probably pissed at us as well. I see those looks of pity you guys give us. Oh, but how lucky you are. You get EIGHT nights.

Well, eight nights doesn't necessarily mean more gifts. I personally don't like it. The thing is we'd open all the fun stuff during the first few nights. Then during the last nights, we'd get the boring stuff....clothes and all that. Note: I was always the type of child to prefer toys and books to clothes.

These days, we do Chanukah all in one day. Now my older sister's family is much more religious than us. I think they probably do Chanukah every night. For the last few years, Tim, Jack, and I have completely bypassed the whole thing. We pretty much pretend it's not happening. There's no candles. There's no evening unwrapping of gifts. But one day a year, we get together with the grandparents, the aunts, uncles, and cousins. We do the Menorah together, and then we open gifts. During the past few years, we did Secret Santa. This year, we all agreed it would be best if we skip the adult gift exchange, and just buy gifts for the four children. In lue of the adult gifts.....Before our Chanukah party, we all drove to a place where we could donate gifts to a women's shelter. That was awesome. It felt SO good to give to people who needed it more than us. And I also have to admit it had been extremely fun for me to shop for the stuff.

During our party, we ate Chanukah Latkes (potato pancakes), and brisket. Well, the omnivores ate the brisket. My mom was incredibly sweet and also made a spinach lasagna. I had that for my meal, and the others ate it as one of their side dishes. For dessert, we had this ice-cream my dad had received as a gift.

All right. Now you're turn. Here are my nosy questions. Answer any that you want to, and ignore the ones you don't.

1. First of all, are you an Australian? American? Both? Neither? (you can skip that question if I know who you are).

2. Which holidays (if any) do you celebrate in December?

3. If you're in Australia now, but weren't there you have difficulty adjusting to Christmas being in the summer? Or if you're an Australian now in the Northern Hemisphere, do you have trouble adjusting to Christmas being in the winter?

4. What are your favorite holiday songs?

5. If you celebrate any holidays, is there religious significance for you. Or is it more about culture/tradition?

6. What foods do you associate with the holidays?

7. What do you do about gift exchanges? Do you do anything like Secret Santa or White Elephant? Do you exchange gifts with friends? Coworkers? Do you do special charity stuff?

8. Do you have favorite Christmas TV specials and/or movies?

9. Do you use any decorations? Tree? Lights? Gingerbread houses? If you have a tree, what do you decorate it with? I'm always curious about that subject.

10. Who do you usually spend the holidays with?

11. Is there anything about the holidays that make you sad or stressed out? (I know that's a very personal question. No obligation to answer. But if you feel like sharing....go ahead)

P.S-while searching for Chanukah song videos, I found this South Park classic. Oh and this song is VERY meaningful and important.


  1. OK D here's me answers ::
    1. First of all, are you an Australian? American? Both? Neither? (you can skip that question if I know who you are):: Ausiie born and bred.

    2. Which holidays (if any) do you celebrate in December? ::: Christmas Day only.

    3. If you're in Australia now, but weren't there you have difficulty adjusting to Christmas being in the summer? Or if you're an Australian now in the Northern Hemisphere, do you have trouble adjusting to Christmas being in the winter? ::: see #1

    4. What are your favorite holiday songs? ::: All traditional Christmas Carols same you hear round the world.

    5. If you celebrate any holidays, is there religious significance for you. Or is it more about culture/tradition? :: Culture and tradition.

    6. What foods do you associate with the holidays? ::: Christmas Puddings, lobsters, prawns, bugs, oysters - anything from the sea with salads!

    7. What do you do about gift exchanges? Do you do anything like Secret Santa or White Elephant? Do you exchange gifts with friends? Coworkers? Do you do special charity stuff? ::: NEW gifts for family only ~ spending depends on how the finances are ~

    8. Do you have favorite Christmas TV specials and/or movies? :: Live telecast of Christmas Carols in the Sydney Domain.

    9. Do you use any decorations? Tree? Lights? Gingerbread houses? If you have a tree, what do you decorate it with? I'm always curious about that subject. :: My girls do all that now!

    10. Who do you usually spend the holidays with? :: Family.

    11. Is there anything about the holidays that make you sad or stressed out? (I know that's a very personal question. No obligation to answer. But if you feel like sharing....go ahead)::
    The expectation based on media hype is sad. The simpleness of Christmas has waned due to these expectations.
    Christmas is for kids. It's just another day, my family could do all this on any day of the year ... and we do.
    We don't need all the hype to love, give, enjoy and celebrate!

  2. 1. Australian :-)

    2. We celebrate Christmas Day only. There aren't any other days to celebrate when you're a heathen like me. lol

    3. I wish I could experience Christmas in a different country! Maybe one day...

    4. I love all the carols at christmas time. We are going to carols by candlelight tonight which is a big event here in Launceston. Tyrone normally plays in the band but he isn't this year.

    5. It's about culture/tradition for us. It's all about family really. Having moved away has meant that the feeling of being surrounded by family has gone and that has been hard to adjust to but we still try and make it special for the kids.

    6. Pudding, seafood, turkey, ham and lots of nibblies!

    7. We have always done Secret Santa for the adults in our family too, but this year is the first that we aren't. So I guess that has stopped now. I was a bit sad about that. So we just buy for the kids.

    8. Usually always watch Carols by Candlelight at the Myer Music Bowl (in Melbourne) on telly on Christmas Eve whilst wrapping presents with Tyrone.

    9. We have a tree and it is covered in mainly baubles and christmas lights. I am extremely anal about my tree but have now had to let it go and leave it up to the kids which pains me! lol. We got some new decorations and lights this year and because we are on a hill and the tree is in front of the french doors you can see it flash from other streets as you wind up the hill!!

    10. Family usually. This year Alex is coming over (the've gone to pick him up from the airport now actually). We have also invited some friends of ours who have no family over here either, which will be nice.

    11. Yes sadly I do struggle with Christmas day as I have a bad bad memory relating to Molly's father many years ago. It always comes back to haunt me. And last year was awful too when I got sick and ended up in hospital without Tyrone there. I find the day quite stressful and really wanted to just have a picnic down at the gorge instead. Next year perhaps I'll get my wish.

  3. Hi Dina,

    1. Well you know the first one
    2. Christmas Day and Boxing Day
    4. I love all Christmas Carols, but my favourite is Silent Night and my favourite Australian Christmas Carol is 'If Santa was an Aussie'
    5. Just tradition
    6. To me it is always Leg Ham, Roast Pork/Turkey/Chicken, Seafood (but i don't eat it), Stone fruit (Plums/Apricots/Nectarines/Cherries), Salad, and Pudding or Trifle for dessert
    7. Just gifts for the family but now just the nephews
    8. Love the christmas cartoons and use to watch the 'Carols in the Domain' as a kid to help me get to sleep quicker as a kid cause you could never sleep on Christmas Eve cause you were too excited
    9. We would always turn lasts years Christmas cards into lanterns and hang them on the tree or on string around the house. Other than that just the usual decorations (lights, baubles, tinsle, Christmas ornaments and a star or an angel on top of the tree. We use to buy a real tree every year and it would make the whole house smell of pine and i used to love it
    10. Family on Christmas Day and friends on Boxing day
    11. Its not as fun as it us to be when i was a kid every year everyone went to my Nans house on Christmas day (she had 13 kids so you can imagine how many people there were at least over 50 people) now everyone just does there own thing and will just call around nans for an hour or so.

  4. Redness: So you don't do anything for Boxing Day?

    I like the traditional Christmas Carols too, and sometimes I like the less common ones as well.

    What are bugs? I'm guessing you're not referring to insects. If you go to our homeschooling blog, you'll see that we ate INSECT bugs. I have a video of that experience.

    I love what you say about the hype...and not needing it to "love, give, enjoy, and celebrate." Beautifully said.

    Tracey: I think you should come visit us for Christmas. Although we don't really do Christmas. My sister does though. We'll invite ourselves over to her house. Actually, she had a Christmas party for us tonight. One year, you guys can come too! It will be so fun. Or we can all meet in some other country.....

    I hope you enjoy the Carols by Candlelite. It sounds really beautiful.

    What are nibbles? Would that be like snacks?

    Wrapping presents and watching Christmas stuff sounds very sweet and romantic to me.

    I wish I could see your Christmas tree. Are you going to take any photos?

    I'm sorry about your bad Christmas memories. I think once something sad/traumatic happens on a holiday, it's hard to get over that. The bad memory kind of stains everything. Plus, now you have more than one bad memory. I guess one thing that might make things better is if you have a really awesome Christmas at some point. Hopefully that will happen one year. A picnic at the gorge sounds really nice and peaceful.

  5. Matt,

    Before I respond to your comment....I wanted to tell you that I'm rereading The Fatal Shore. Toongabbie is mentioned. The WEIRD thing is I circled it the first time I read the book. I have no earthly idea why. I had underlined a bunch of stuff that was interesting to me. I can't find anything else that I circled. And I just circled the name. That's it. For the underlining, I usually (or always) underlined a whole fact.


    I've never heard of the Aussie Santa song. I'm trying to watch a video of it now. YouTube is not working well for me.

    Why don't you eat seafood? Is there a reason, or do you just not like it? Even when I ate meat, I didn't eat seafood. I don't know why. Both my sister and I have some kind of weird aversion to it. I like stone fruit. It shows the seasonal differences though. For us, they're not really Christmas fruits. I think here pears are the Christmas fruit. It's what you find in the Christmas food baskets...then also dried fruits. We eat stone fruits in the summer...far away from Christmas time.

    I like the Christmas cartoons. I wonder if we have some of the same ones you guys have. Here the most popular (the classics) are Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman.

    I love hearing about Christmas trees. I think they're so beautiful. I used to wish I had one...but now I'm thinking I'd hate all the work. Instead, I enjoy other people's Christmas trees. What are baubles? Are they like ornaments? We decorated some glass ornaments at my sister's party today. It was fun. They have a real tree, but I didn't spell the pine. I'm not sure why. That's kind of that I think of it.

    I've heard the family on Christmas, and friends on Boxing Day thing before.

    The thing about your Nan's house made me sad. I used to love hanging out with my cousins at my grandmother's house. Sometimes it's hard when things change.

  6. Maybe the underlining of Toongabbie was a psychic premonition :)

    I just don’t like the taste of seafood, which is really bad because my Aboriginal family are coastal people who lived off the sea and still do and they all absolutely love seafood and im the only one who doesn’t

    Love how we have the seasonal difference in food that coincides with the cultural holidays it helps to make them different

    Im sure that they are the same because they are American cartoons

    Baubles are the balls that you hang on the tree and are made from glass, plastic, or ceramic and can be a plain colour, shiny or dull, and/or have pictures painted on them

    Sorry I made you sad, but its so true that it is hard when things change and I think it will be even worse once my nans gone

  7. Matt,

    Now that I think of it...I don't think I actually spent a lot of time with my cousins at my grandmother's house...actually apartment. I was trying to think of times we were all together there, and I'm coming up empty. When I visited my grandmother (or grandparents when my grandpa was alive) it was usually just with my parents and sisters.

    We did have special get-togethers with cousins, aunts, grandparents, etc....but they were usually not at my grandmother's home.

    I do have VERY vague and fond memories of us all MAYBE being together at the apartment...but I'm not sure.

    Anyway, sorry for rambling.

    Why do you think that all of you spend less time at your grandmother's house? Is everyone too busy now, or did people decide they prefer to spend the holiday with immediate family?

    Do most of your cousins live in Sydney?

    Most of my cousins lived in Chicago, and we didn't. So it was a fairly rare/special occasion to see my grandparents and cousins.

    Funny about the seafood.

    I probably was having a psychic prediction. But like the majority of my psychic predictions, I'll never know what the hell I was trying to predict.

  8. My christmas/new year will be very different this year as I will be working, so no holidays for me.

  9. Yeah everyone just spends time with their own immediate family now as most of my cousins have families of their own. Plus Nan's getting too old now to do anything so the last few years she has just gone to either and Aunties or Uncles house and everyone has just gone around there to see her.

    Yeah most of my cousins live in Sydney but a lot are spread throughout NSW. When i was younger everyone lived in or around Blacktown which made it a lot easier to catch up with everyone.

  10. Hi Darling,
    Boxing day is nothing special for us, just another day, to do what we do any other day!
    The Christmas Sales start with avengeance so for the last couple of years we've gone into David Jones or Myers where thw bargains are phenomenal!
    Bugs are from the sea! Sydney they're 'Balmain Bugs', Queensladn they're 'Moretan Bay Bugs'. They come out of the water green, but them on the barbi or into a pot of hot water, they go red like prawns or lobster ... you get soft, sweet, succulent, white flesh ... the best!
    Happy Hols to YOU & YOURS Dina. XOXOXOXO

  11. Andrew: Sorry about that. I hope it's not completely unpleasant.

    Matt: Yeah. It's hard when everyone lives far from each other. And as people get older, they have their own families, friends, social life, etc.

    I keep up with some of my cousins on Facebook. Many of my relatives are on there now. It's kind of neat sometimes because I get a glimpse of cousins I've barely seen in real life.

    Then I have this one cousin (third cousin). I never knew her growing up. I never even knew she existed. But the she moved to Fort Worth...where we live. Now I see her on a fairly regular basis.

    Relationships change. Sometimes the bonds strengthen, and sometimes they weaken.

    So who will you spend Christmas with? I remember you said some of your family is in Queensland. Will they come to Sydney?

    Well, whoever you end up being with...I hope you have a happy Christmas.

    Redness: Your day-after-Christmas sounds like ours. Lots of sales!

  12. "in lieu of" (it's French!)

    We have a holiday tradition of rotating the kids toys and trying not to replace them with anything new ;D

    I also really love (it sounds crazy I know) rotating all my files (throwing the oldest year out and preparing folders to collect next year's bill stubs, etc). I love doing that chore, 'cause I love throwing things away.

    And it looks like (sad) this year we MAY begin a new tradition of NOT wrapping Presents! I think I'm experiencing a lot of anxiety b/c we haven't gotten around to that insanely tedious (and idiotic) chore yet. I don't even care. but I guess I do care and I'm stressed about it. Which is Probably why I'm trying so hard (every way I can think of) to see whatsherhead this year (or next year). I've come up with 3 different Really Good reasons to call, write or go see her. This is really great. and it's all about (maybe) the stupid wrapping of pres-- sorry I'm such a punk.

    traditions.. we also have a (kind of) tradition of enjoying eggnog and sparkling cider during Nov./Dec. I just bring this up 'cause I got a stomachache last night from drinking too much cider.

  13. HappyOrganist,

    Rotating the kids toys...that's pretty awesome! It reminds me of my iTUNES music. I got really sick of a lot of my songs, and didn't want to hear them when I did the shuffle thing. So I made a new folder and took out all the music I wasn't sick of. That's what I would listen to. Well, the other day when I made CD's for the trip, I decided to go to the music library instead of my folder of "favorites". I found I was so totally not sick of those old songs anymore. I was excited to hear them.

    So yeah. I think rotating can work.

    Throwing old stuff away can be cathartic. I've been cleaning too. I'm not sure I love it as much as you do ; ). And we have SO much stuff. We still have tons to throw out.

    As for wrapping gifts...well, it's better for the environment NOT to do it. It's such a part of the holidays though. But if it stresses you out too much, probably not worth it. And then you can just use the excuse that you're trying to have a green Christmas
    ; )

    My family tries to be more green by using gift bags instead of wrapping least for the most part. Then we can use the same bags for the next person's birthday. I took it a step further for Chanukah and used cloth bags...instead of paper ones. I figure they can use the bags when they grocery shop. But for the Christmas party, I found old x-mas wrapping paper and used that. I figure if you already bought it (years ago) you might as well use it.

    Anyway, good luck with deciding whether to call whats-her-name. And I hope you don't get TOO stressed.

  14. I like your gift-wrapping idea - using bags. We've done that some in the past (last few years). It works quite well.
    I also like your 'go green' excuse. I think that's a great idea (i'm not being sarcastic). That sounds really good.
    am I just lazy?


  15. I decided to write her and profess my undying love. I'll let you know how it goes. =D

  16. 1. Australian.

    2. I celebrate Xmas.

    3. Only spent two Christmas's in America and I have problems with our Christmas in summer. It sucks. And for some reason Christmas Day ends up being a hot one. But I admit while in the States after New Years Eve I was like 'okay so when does this snow go away?' it didn't. It was still on the ground (breaking up) when I left in June.

    4. Six White Boomers is pretty good. But I have to say my all time fav is Christmas Night in Harlem - it has the summer feel to the song.

    5. I recognise Jesus's birthday. I think its great other people celebrate this stuff.

    6. Christmas pudding with brandy custard. I heart it.

    7. I like to put a gift under those trees at Target for kids in need, it always ends up stressing me out because I never know what to get. We do gift exchange but this year we're keeping it low-key.

    8. Alf's Christmas special always make me cry. I'm so glad I get to watch it again this year. Last Christmas they had a Flight of the Conchords marathon on which was pretty awesome.

    9. We haven't put up a tree so far this year. We said we'll do it Christmas Eve. I've been working. Lots of lights in my neighbourhood, I'd feel too guilty doing lights with the whole green issue of it. I feel guilty when I use my cars' aircon.

    10. My sister and my immediate family. I'm not really into family and Christmas. Too much pressure.

    11. What makes me sad about Christmas is that it's not like how it felt when you were a kid. I miss that magic of the season. I also miss the cold weather of Northern Michigan. I mean they have ice sculptures in front of shops and a huge line up for hot chocolate. I miss that. It felt like Christmas should.

  17. HappyOrganist: The green excuse is very handy for when you're feeling lazy...or cheap. I'm both of those.

    I hope your letter adventure goes well.

    Amy Michelle: It's funny that you have problems with Christmas in summer. I'm guessing it's because Australians grow up with American and British TV, so you guys are bombarded with images of Christmas in the winter. Plus, there's the whole issue of many Australians coming from the UK.

    I don't know if I've heard Christmas night in Harlem.

    I'm going to listen to it now.

    I don't think I've seen Alf's Christmas special. The only special I've seen so far this year is Phineas and Ferb. It was pretty good.

    I know what you mean about the lights and the green issue. I feel guilty just enjoying other people's lights. We drove home from my sister's party and saw a ton of lights. I LOVE them...especially the colorful ones. But I feel bad loving them because I know they're not green.

    Speaking of you feel it's better to have a plastic tree and reuse it every year...or do you think it's better to get a real tree?

    I think Christmas loses it's magic because we become aware of the whole greed/commercialism issue.

    I feel the same way about Disney World. When I was young, I saw it as so magical. But now I keep thinking. "They want our money. They want our money." I can still enjoy it, but I have to make myself see it through Jack's eyes.

    Although it's winter here in America....I'm in Texas, so it's not exactly a cold white Christmas. I remember one year when we lived in NYC, it was actually warm for Christmas.

    Back to Disney World...they have a mini golf course with a Christmas-in-the-summer theme.

  18. Good blog Dina..
    I am an Indian. Not much celebrations here in December but we have tons of them through out the year

    I am actually dead tired today..because I had to dress up kids for school day functions.. fancy dress competition etc etc. There were too many kids to handle. Love your blog but it doesn't show updates on my blogspot...

  19. Farila,

    Do you have months in India that have more celebrations than others? What religion are you?

    Sorry you're stressed...hope all goes well!

    I have no idea why my blog isn't showing up on your blogger. Maybe it's meant to be. You probably don't need an extra thing to read!!!

  20. We have a plastic tree because it's pretty much what everyone does here. I think if I were to have a real Christmas tree here I would grow one in my yard and decorate it outside.

    But I guess I don't mind that Americans/Euros chop down trees to decorate because I'm sure it's managed. It's just not common practise here. But maybe like Krispy Kreme and Halloween - it'll catch on?

    I think you're right about the image for Christmas being of winter/snow. This year some people were carolling in the mall and they were wearing shorts and skirts and I was like 'woah, in my day we all kidded that it was Christmas like Europe and they'd be wearing robes while sweating their butts off'.

    I prefer the winter Christmas but I think the summer NYE is so much better.

  21. Amy Michelle,

    I love the idea of growing your own Christmas tree and decorating it outside. That's so cool.

    I don't like any New Years...winter or summer.

    I'm not a big fan of fireworks, so the Australian New Years didn't excite me too much. Plus, it was our last night in Australia (in 2007) so I wasn't a very happy camper. It's a sad memory for me.

  22. I finally have time to answer these myself...

    1. American.

    2. Christmas

    3. n/a

    4. Favorite Christmas songs are O Holy Night and Do You Hear What I Hear. My favorite non-traditional song is Merry Christmas from the Family

    5. For me, celebrating Christmas is more about culture and tradition than religious significance, but I recognize its significance for others. And I do honor the spirit of Christ especially at Christmas.

    6. Foods I associate with the holidays are Christmas cookies, peanut butter balls, chex mix. There's not one particular meal we have, sometimes ham. My dad has started making steaks every Christmas eve recently. And we frequently get pizza for our celebration with mom so that no one has to cook.

    7. I buy gifts for family that I'm celebrating with. I don't usually buy for my step-siblings' children unless they're going to be at my dad's and they aren't very often these days. My closest friends are a group of 6 (counting me) and last year we started drawing names instead of buying for everyone. We try to keep it a secret who we have. Where I work now, no one exchanges gifts, thank goodness. I don't need the additional expense.

    8. I don't have any favorite Christmas TV specials and/or movies. I enjoy funny Christmas movies like Bad Santa and Christmas vacation. Don't care much about the "classics" that some people like to watch every year like Miracle of 34th Street and that one with Jimmy Stewart. I guess because we didn't watch them growing up. I do like the old cartoons like Rudolph and Frosty occasionally for nostalgia but haven't seem them in years.

    9. We have an artificial tree. I don't care much about it either way but my husband likes it. We have lights on the tree and ornaments that we've purchased or that have been given to us. This year we didn't hang ornaments, just put lights on it. We sometimes have lights on the bushes outside. We didn't put them up this year, just a lighted star hanging on the porch.

    10. I spend Christmas Eve at my Dad's with my sister & her family, Dad & Step-Mom. If any of my step-siblings are in town they will come sometimes but it's rare. Christmas Day we go to my in-laws' which is about 150 miles away. We like to spend a whole day celebrating with my Mom, so when we do that depends on when Christmas falls. This year it was the day after Christmas. We try to do it on a Saturday. We usually do that at my sister's house.

    11. I don't usually get stressed about the holidays, especially since we have cut back on our spending. I try to do all my shopping online in advance. I used to stress about Christmas cards because I made them and didn't just buy them but this year decided not to do them.

    Thanks for the post Dina... I enjoyed reading the other responses!!

  23. Jamie,

    Thank you for responding! And thank you for giving me this post idea in the first place. It's so cool that I get to hear about your holidays, and on the same day I also saw your holiday photos. It looks like you guys had a lot of fun.

    I like the idea of a spirit of Christ. I sometimes imagine there's a kind of Santa Claus spirit. I don't think there's a literal Santa Claus. But maybe there's a general that makes people festive, and one that makes people want to give to each other. I think a spirit of Christ would go along well with that.

    Are the peanut butter balls made with honey and powdered milk? We used to make those..... I'm not sure if these are the same things.

    I like Christmas Vacation! The funny thing is...since we've been on the road trip, Vegas Vacation has been on twice. I don't get why they're showing that movie instead of Christmas Vacation.

    I haven't heard of Bad Santa...will have to go look that one up.

    It sounds like you don't have to go crazy with the gift giving. That's good. I remember that in high school...having to buy gifts for people. And then there's the awkward feeling when someone gives you a gift, and you don't have a gift for them. Or vice-versa.

    I can't remember if we exchanged gifts at the school I worked at in NYC. Maybe? Then in Texas, we did Secret Santa.

    I think the massive gift giving can be very stressful.

  24. I know I'm terribly late, but I was really sick when you posted this and I'm just catching up with blog reading.

    1. Australian

    2. Christmas day and then a general run up to New Years Eve.

    3. I've never spent a Christmas away from home. I'm not sure I could cope, actually.

    4. I like a lot of the cheerful carols, but my two fav Aussie ones are The Carol of the Birds and my most recent addition (courtesy of Mim) Tim Minchin's White Wine in the Sun. Actually, just listen to that - it sums up how I feel about Christmas completely. :)

    5. No religious significance, but I usually think of it as marking the solstice (as I often mark other seasonal moments). It's all about enjoying the company of family and friends - oh, and food.

    6. Ham, roast port, roast turkey, roast vegies, pudding & custard, nuts, stone fruit, and chocolate.

    7. In theory we have a variation on Kris Kringle for the adults, but we all seem to end up buying other stuff as well. Kids get bought for in a haphazard sort of way. No-one seems to be too hardly done by, I don't think.

    8. Not so much on the TV, but I usually go to the Carols in the Domain every year. I'm still sulking because I missed this year due to aforementioned illness.

    9. I put up a plastic tree, which I decorate anally. There are ornaments around the house as well, and hubby & kids put lights up outside.

    10. Family and friends over the whole Christmas-New Year period. Christmas Day itself seems to have settled at my house - all and sundry are welcome.

    11. I get stressed when I have too much to do in December - or like this year when I got knocked out by a virus for a week. The day itself is always a joy though. Everyone helps pull it altogether in the morning and we just sit/sleep/play games all afternoon.

  25. Ariane,

    I'm sorry you were sick around Christmas time : (

    Thanks for answering all the questions. I loved reading your answers. And yeah. I'm listening to White Wine in the Sun right now. I can totally see how it would probably sum up your feelings about Christmas.

    I think my favorite line is "I get freaked out by churches
    Some of the hymns that they sing have nice chords
    But the lyrics are dodgy"

    I also love the part about his baby daughter. It's funny and then so poignant. I got a little tear.

  26. That's what I love about the song, it's funny, explains everything that I *don't* subscribe to with respect to Christmas, but it's also heartfelt and sentimental, which is what Christmas *is* about for me.