Tuesday, December 21, 2010


It's strange that I don't really 'do' Christmas in a big way these days .... as a child I was always so excited at this time of year. Growing up in a very large Russian-German family, my sister and I were lucky to experience a mix of cultural celebrations when the family came together at my Omi's groovy little 1960s bungalow, just a couple of hundred metres from the beach.

In typical Australian fashion, we often relaxed outside in the garden as the temperature soared. A conifer in the front yard was adorned with the ubiquitous tinsely decorations, beach chairs were set out around the lawn and there was much singing and drinking of vodka (by the adults, of course!) - Nasdrovie! здоровью!

We also had a tradition of the children putting on a performance of some kind before opening the presents. My cousins, sister and I would prepare well in advance, making costumes, 'stage' sets and props. One of my earliest memories of these performances is of a poem that went something like this:

Lieber, guter Weihnachtsmann,
guck mich nicht so böse an.
Stecke deine Rute ein,
Ich will lieb und artig sein!

(translation: Dear, good Father Christmas,
don't look at me so agrily.
Put your rod/cane away,
For I wish to be good and obedient!)

The German Weihnachtsmann is a little more stern than his jolly British counterpart. As well as a book detailing the behavioural record of the world's children, he carries a tall staff or a bundle of twigs tied into a switch for punishing the naughty kids, which always worried me somewhat!

I really hope to live in Germany again some day, where Christmas decorations brighten the winter landscape, we can drink Glühwein at one of the kitschy Christmas markets, and later munch on spicy gingerbreads as we snuggle up in a candle-lit room, watching the snow fall gently outside.... ah, yes!

That said, it's also fun to celebrate Christmas in the hot summer sun. I love indulging in wonderful fresh salads, stone fruits, champagne and seafood, with bright decorations set against a backdrop of fragrant eucalypt trees. The dozy drone of bees and cicadas seems to mirror our post-prandial mood as we relax into the warmth of the summer evening and everything seems to have switched down a gear.

Bring on the sunshine!

1 comment:

Jo said...

My childhood memories of Christmas are good too. Over the past ten years or so it has been much less of an 'event' in my life. I think not having children around means it loses it's magic somewhat.

I remember visiting a Christmas 'grotto' in Germany - so special!!

Merry Christmas!

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