Xmas open thread 2014

This is the yearly bonus open thread for Christmas chat, for Hoydens and Hoydenizens who are interested. Feel free to talk services, observances, decorations, rushing, shopping, gifts, surprises, feasting and family traditions heart-warming and otherwise. All observers of Christmas welcome if you want to chat, religious, non-religious, and observers in the sense of watching it without participating.

Red bus covered in tinsel and other Christmas decorations

Metrobus Sydney decorated for Christmas, by Tom Worthington CC BY-SA

If anyone making other seasonal observances wants to join the thread, please do.

Once the dedicated Xmas thread goes up each year, we generally ask that the Otterday threads become Xmas-free. Xmas chat should stay here or on another on-topic thread; visit your most recent Otterday thread for other chat!

Categories: fun & hobbies, Life

Tags: , , ,

18 replies

  1. Still haven’t put up the Xmas tree. At the point where it seems easier to go out and cut down a live one rather than dig out and construct the plastic one.

  2. Can’t find an appropriate #$%^ing gift for either or my younger siblings (and one partner) that doesn’t cost the earth. BAH.

  3. We… never took last year’s tree down. Yikes. I feel like it may not be the tradition for me. I’m trying to apply a bit of a “if it feels like a totally unrewarding chore, then perhaps it doesn’t need to be part of my Christmas traditions” filter, to the extent that I can. (Obviously other family members sometimes get a say!)
    My family moved to a Kris Kringle model for adults this year (assigned recipient, amount cap) and it’s been a relief.

  4. Aphie I am a big fan of gift cards for that very reason.

  5. Have done very little gift shopping. But fortunately don’t have all that much to do. Planning on an epic day tomorrow – pressie shopping, fruit mince pie and gingerbread baking, pressie wrapping, running around in circles panicking etc. Wish me luck!

  6. My mother decided that we are having a potluck Christmas dinner, with each adult or couple who has joined us on holiday here contributing a dish or two. So far, it looks like our Christmas dinner is going to be mostly desserts….

  7. Mim, I also have an epic day of last minute xmassy chores. But not yet, which is why I’m watching the 80s Christmas special on MTV – so far I’ve seen a Bowie/Bing duet, and David Essex! But oh no, now it’s BandAid.

  8. I’m in a mad frenzy of baking at the moment, because I’ve decided I’m going to give my brother and my nieces bags of biscuits for Christmas. So, today I’ve done one batch each of lemon butter biscuits and shortbread. Tomorrow it’s going to be about four batches of snap biscuits (two with chocolate chips, two with chopped glace cherries), plus another batch of lemon butter biscuits and another batch of shortbread. Effectively I’m going to be spending the whole day either washing the mixing bowl, or messing it back up again. Yays. I’m also planning to hit the supermarket, and grab the sort of last-minute greens and such to last my partner and I until the other side of the whole festivity.
    Fortunately, this year we’re getting to spend the day together alone in our house. His parents are flying out to Sydney on Christmas Eve, so we got in our celebration with them about a week ago last Saturday. My parents got told (when they asked) that Himself was rather peopled out at present, and they were willing to skip the whole business. I’m dropping over their place to drop off presents on Wednesday, and then heading home to close the door very firmly indeed.

  9. I have failed to bake or wrap anything. I am suffering a serious Christmas spirit deficit.

  10. I am having a crisis of confidence since buying a jelly roll for the trifle. Do I then put in more jelly or will more jelly clash with the jelly already in the roll? Will anyone eat trifle?

  11. There is a dietician somewhere in Sydney that I would like to shout at rather loudly and rudely for an extended period.

    • Merry Xmas, all! Having a pleasant family gathering with the sibs and their kids. We’ve had the first flurry of gifts for the kids under the tree, the family Kris Kringle happens at lunchtime, then the naps, then leftovers for dinner. This house has two living rooms, so the kids are playing video-games in one and the other one is a quieter space. It’s all rather relaxed, which is lovely.

  12. It’s still Christmas Eve on my side of the date line, FWIW. Anyway, as someone from up over, I thought I’d ask the folks from down under about stuff associated with Christmas.
    Around here, Christmas seems to be associated with snow, including horse-drawn sleighs, snowmen, and houses heated by fireplaces. Somehow, that isn’t the sort of thing I imagine you’d see much of in December in, say, Sydney.[*] I’d expect more like swimming pools and iced drinks and surfboards.
    So I wonder: in Australia (and NZ?), does Christmas glurge revolve around snow and winter stereotypes just because that’s what they did in Merry Olde England? Or do you all have different associations around Christmas?
    [*] Actually, where I am — NYC area — we haven’t had much snow in December in years. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a horse-drawn sleigh _anywhere_ .

  13. Sleepy Christmas afternoon here at my parents’ place, with cicadas in the background and at least one bored dog who doesn’t understand why the humans have been doing fewer Intetesting Things today.
    AMM, the answer to your question is that it’s a bit of everything, with different people/families/communities taking different bits of various traditions in different proportions – adding, of course, the range of immigrants and traditions, even among the Christian/people-who-celebrate-Christmas population.
    So a lot of the imagery you see associated with Christmas is snow-related, but you also see a fair bit of summerised/Australianised imagery etc, eg kangaroos pulling a sleigh instead of reindeer (including in the song Six White ), Santa depicted in shorts, a beach setting for a Christmas scene, etc.
    Many families (including mine) have a pretty stereotypical English Christmas lunch – turkey, ham, roast potatoes, etc. The rich Christmas food (mince pies, fruit cake, pudding) is also all around.
    The other common Australian Christmas meal is seafood, often barbecued.
    Most families I know will open presents in the morning, or soon after all attendees arrive, and most have a big meal in the middle of the day. Common afternoon activities include swimming, backyard or kanga cricket and sleeping.
    Christmas made very little sense to me as a festival until I lived in the UK for a couple of years – then I really understood why you need a festival of light and rich food at the darkest time of the year! I’ve also been in the USA around Christmas a couple of times. It seems to me that the whole thing is taken a lot more seriously in both the UK & USA than here, it’s much more pervasive and in-your-face (eg we have nowhere near the level of Christmas carol saturation in shops, and I don’t see places you can buy a Christmas tree in the same way as the USA in particular), which makes me think I’m not the only one it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to here.

  14. Christmas cards feature a warmly dressed Santa, reindeer and lots of snow. There is plenty of ‘snow’ spraypainted onto windows to give a snowy sills look and puddings are eaten. We had a baked dinner for lunch today, with a side of prawns.
    It is strange having a baked dinner on a hot summer day but somehow I don’t feel like I have had Christmas lunch otherwise. 🙂

  15. Happy Boxing Day to the GMT+11 and GMT+13 folks!

    Christmas made very little sense to me as a festival until I lived in the UK for a couple of years – then I really understood why you need a festival of light and rich food at the darkest time of the year!

    Maybe you folks need to reschedule Christmas for June. Although I don’t think it gets quite as dark even in June as it does up here: today (it’s Xmas morning here) the official sun rise & set times are 7:20 and 16:30 in my little town just north of NYC. I don’t think Australia gets as far from the equator as we are, so I’m guessing the days don’t get as short there as up here. (Maybe NZ South Island?) If you did manage to get it rescheduled, maybe it would take up here, and we wouldn’t have our prime travel time during snow- and ice-storm season. (Though I think June is the beginning of Tornado season for the middle of the USA — the law of Conservation of Aggravation strikes again.)
    Anyway, the rest of the family is still in bed. Eldest is at Mom’s, where normal bedtime is 2:00 a.m. or later. Younger sprog got to bed at around 6:00 a.m. — he was making a hat for me. It’s his first sewing project, and he still hasn’t figured out the sewing machine. It’s been raining on and off for several weeks, I don’t think we’ve seen the sun yet this month.
    It’s been hard for me — while my childhood was mostly grim, we did have a number of Christmas traditions. We always got fruit, chocolates, nuts, and a silver dollar in our Xmas stockings, which was kind of a reference to past generations where fresh fruit was hard to come by in winter, chocolate and nuts were rare luxuries, and one dollar was a fair amount of money. We talked about Santa Claus as if he were real, even though we all knew he was just a charming story. And decorating the tree on Xmas Eve was one of the few times when the whole family (well, us 4-5 kids) could do something together without (much) fighting.
    Unfortunately, my ex and my kids have no interest in making Christmas special. It’s just a day to give and get presents and otherwise hang out on their computers. When I refer to “Santa”, they all look at me like I’m feeble-minded. Stockings get ignored. I always had to prod my kids to get them to help decorate the tree, and the past few years it’s been me alone. So aside from the five minutes spent opening presents, Christmas is pretty much a day like any other.

  16. Sorry to hear that AMM. Hope you bought yourself something really nice from Santa.

  17. I’m sorry AMM, I would be sad about that as well.
    I’ve come to the realisation that I need to credit myself for more work at Christmas. I’m not a big baker or decorator, but my bazillion cards and so on count. (I do the family photo cards, so not much snow iconography.)
    I’m from a family that treats it more as a summer festival: seafood and pool toys. There is a bit of roast meat usually but it’s not the only roasts we will have in summer. My son is now talking about “real Christmas” though which will be in winter like on TV.
    Some people do have a “Christmas in July” (I did see an article once about why July and not June) but since there are only a few places in Australia where there’s regular snowfall, and our latitudes aren’t high so the days aren’t ridiculously short, I think that reassurance of “this is as dark as it gets” doesn’t ever really ring true to us. Perhaps someone from Tassie or NZ can speak to that better.

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