Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas "Down Under"

12.24.10 Christmas Eve:  After a day spent prepping and baking for tomorrow’s Christmas dinner, we had an early dinner of Tourtiere Pie, a tradition from my childhood, and baked macaroni and cheese (Chloe’s request).  Then, we all headed to O’Malley to celebrate Christmas Eve with many friends and colleagues from the Embassy.  Chloe and Bella bounced on the trampoline the entire time until Chloe was kicked in the face by “one of the big boys”.  She came in with a bloody fat lip.  We had a great time at the party.  When we arrived home, I had the girls open one Christmas present (a tradition I started) -- their Christmas pyjamas.  This year, they got summer weight PJs!  Uri and I were up until after midnight getting the house ready and Uri was putting together a bicycle for Anabella.   I think the assembly took him longer than expected especially after those few drinks he had at the party earlier. 

Christmas Pyjamas
It really doesn’t feel like the holidays “down under”.  There’s no snow (obviously), the weather is warm and there just isn’t much Christmas spirit around.  Only a couple of homes in the neighbourhood have lights hung and the stores have a couple of decorations in the window, but they look more pathetic than festive.  The streets are not decorated, either.   In the short week that we have been in our house I did my best to bring the holiday cheer to it.  Uri was a bit ba-humbug about the whole thing (at first) because we were so overwhelmed with all of the furniture and boxes to unpack and organize.  But, I insisted that while we unpacked and organized we also unpack our Christmas decorations and decorate.  I pleaded for a Christmas tree, and finally conceded to an artificial tree.  It is quite pretty and tall and thin, and it came pre-lit (a bonus).  Decorating the tree put me right into the holiday spirit.  The girls loved looking at all of the ornaments especially those that they made while in day care at Dolphin Days.  Each one had its one story.  It’s times like these that I feel a pang of guilt for bringing them overseas and away from our family and friends and all that they know.  They constantly talk about their friends and teachers from Dolphin Days and John Lyman School—telling me stories, remembering play dates and the dreams from the night before.  Some of their stories sound made up, but their friends are real.  I love that they remember and we talk about it. The memories are wonderful to have, and I know they will make many more memories here, too.  Then, there is another wonderful moment like today when Anabella was talking with her Aunt Lilly on the telephone and Aunt Lilly asked her what her favourite thing was about Australia.  Anabella said, “Getting to be with my family”.

"Oh Christmas Tree"
12.25.10 Christmas Day: We are up early!  The girls are so excited and can’t wait to get downstairs.  I got this great shot of them coming down the stairs. 
Christmas morning
While we waited for Daddy to get up I let them get into their Christmas stockings.  I kept them downstairs (and relatively quiet) as long as I possibly could, but Chloe snuck by me and woke up her Daddy.  Chloe had already chosen the first present she was going to open.  She picked wisely…the DS lite she asked Santa Claus for…and it was pink!  Anabella feigned surprise about her bike even though she had picked it out a few days earlier at the Big W (Australian’s version of Wal-Mart).  She has questioned us ruthlessly about whether Santa Claus is real since she was 3 years old, but as the day gets closer every year she figures she’s better off believing (it’s all about insuring she gets presents).    This year, her sister, Chloe, figured out the whole Santa thing, too.  Regardless of what they believe, I still have fun wrapping presents from the “big guy in the red suit” and “SC” and “SC and his reindeer”.   We had a nice morning together. 
In the afternoon, our guests arrived for Christmas dinner.  We had our friends’ from Connecticut and another person from Uri’s office over for dinner.  We served a delicious lamb dinner with creamy garlic mashed potatoes, cooked carrots and green beans and chicken parmesan and spaghetti.  I baked a yummy black cherry cheesecake and chocolate cake for dessert.   Cooking dinner was quite an experience.  Jodi showed me how to cook the lamb as I had never made one before.  One problem was that the oven here is a tiny apartment sized oven so my roast pan would not fit.  And, a few other baking dishes and sheets don’t fit.  Jodi had brought along a throw-away tin pan for us to use.  I have a nice gas cook top, too, but that it also on the small size so it’s difficult to have more than two pots going at once.  Luckily, I prepared a lot the day before.  We adopted an Australian tradition at dinner which is the bon-bon favors.  Each person is given a bon-bon or cracker to open.  Inside is a paper crown, a toy and a riddle.  The paper crowns are worn during dinner.  These are big here in Australia apparently.  Dinner was delicious and the company was wonderful.  Six hours later our guests left and we crashed!  We were totally exhausted and happy to have spent the holiday with our “Australian family”.  
Anabella, Michael and Chloe

The boys from the office

Master Chef Dave and me

1 comment:

  1. Sarah, I love the Christmas PJ tradition. I started it this year (a friend of mine also has that tradition). Don't forget PJ's for you and Uri!!! Everyone needs a good pair (or two) of Christmas pyjamas!