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A Very Aussie Christmas

Sliding down the hill into the 25th over here. I was supposed to finish work on December 15 - I was officially giving myself a month off, which really means a month off answering emails and manning the online shop. That won’t happen in reality though… people still need answers to things, BOM template kits will need shipping and StitchyMites will need writing! The end of the year is supposed to be such a joyful time, and instead it often means running in circles!

We have a very full house this year. My boys are coming to stay for a week with their partners. It’s the first time we have had both the girls for Christmas, I’m so chuffed. Christmas Day is at my brother’s house, so there will be him and his wife and my little niece, and also my Dad and his wife and her sister, and her sister’s boys. And a few friends who are “orphans” that we’ve collected from around the place. There’s 20 I think at last count!

I love a full house though. I love feeding people and wrapping presents and getting my festive on. I’m doing all the cooking even though its not at my house, so there is a massive turkey on order with the butcher, and all kinds of delicious plans in place. My house smells like fruit cake and gingerbread, and is strewn with half finished sewing for Christmas presents. I madly decided that this year, in honour of the girls attendance, we would all have new Christmas stockings…. Yep better get on to that, they’re in pieces!! Lizzie’s placemats are getting there though, here are the two I’ve finished so far. Yes, there is LOT of sewing and a LOT of cooking needs to be done before Monday.

Our Christmas is in summer. I know that might seem odd to those overseas, where Christmas is all about being cozy and warm, and snow falling outside and hot chocolate. Here Christmas is about heat and eucalyptus leaves, blazing blue skies, cicadas screaming and the house full of wet beach towels and sand. This year we have had a very early heat wave, and the week of 40 degree heat has left my Christmas tree not so much of a tree, and more of a crispy Christmas Stick. Damo is considering going to buy one of those cans of fake snow to spray along the branches and hide the dead. 

I thought that StitchyMites today might be a little round up of some Aussie things we do for Christmas. If you’re an Aussie, you might like to add some of your families traditions below, and if you’re not then I would love to hear what you get up to in the festive season. Especially if you have a favourite recipe that needs sharing - I’m sure we would all like that!! Here are some of my favourite essentially Australian Christmas things, and a few sneaky other things poked in too. 

We have our own Australian Christmas carols. Yes, we sing all the traditional ones too, but there are some special Aussie ones. They’re less about snow and bells and more about red dirt, dusty paddocks and kangaroos. My favourites are Six White Boomers (let’s not talk about Rolf Harris…. But this song is part of my childhood!) 

and The Carol of the Birds. 

The North Wind is probably my favourite of all, here’s the Sydney Children’s choir singing it, as well as another one I didn’t know called The Three Drovers.

Probably my favourite Australian Christmas song of all though isn’t a carol - it’s called White Wine in the Sun, by Tim Minchin. Its what Christmas is all about for me…. its a bit quirky but Tim is my jam. Persevere to the chorus.

Australian Christmas food follows English traditions pretty closely, although I know that a lot of my friends do a cold Christmas lunch these days. Prawns and salad just don’t say Christmas Day to me though, so I still slog through the cooking of the enormous turkey and the making of the gravy and the duck fat potatoes, and we have the prawns and salads too. We have cold ham and hot turkey, go figure. Everyone has their traditions! I like Jamie Olivers turkey recipe, I’ve used it for years - although I bastardise it a bit by putting chestnuts in the stuffing, and I wrap the whole top of the turkey in bacon to keep it moist. I also put about a dozen chipolatas in the roasting tray, the fat helps make the gravy even more delicious. Calories, what calories? It’s Christmas, we’ll deal with it in January!! 

For me real Australian Christmas food is about the fruit. All the stone fruit is Christmas in a nutshell for me. We eat some ungodly amount of kilos of cherries every year, I hate to think how many. We don’t have dessert ever though except on Christmas Day, so it’s very healthy. Cherries, mangoes, peaches, nectarines, lychees… and my absolute favourite, apricots. Even the smell of a fresh apricot makes me all Christmassy! In fact there’s one waiting for me in the fruit bowl, excuse me while I get a snack. 

OK I’m back. Another thing in our house that is serious Christmas tradition and you do not mess with it, are the cakes. I make four Christmas cakes every year, one for us and one for my Dad, and one each for the girl’s Dads. Shhh don’t tell anyone but I use Belinda Jeffries Last Minute Christmas Cake recipe, it’s absolutely foolproof, so easy and its so moist and delicious. Theres only three in this pic though because #4 is in the oven right now. I wish you had SmelloNet. I haven’t glazed them yet but when I do they will be all luscious and shiny. Mmmmm, someone put the kettle on please! 

On Christmas morning we have stone fruit and slices of Bill Granger’s Coconut Bread, toasted with butter and honey. 

There also absolutely must be my friend Kim’s Gingerbread Cake sitting in the cake stand to be eaten while watching the cricket - this is DELICIOUS, I warn you that you will want to eat the entire cake by yourself. Do not make this unsupervised as no one else will get any. Also you absolute must ice it, I know that lemon icing on gingerbread sounds whack but please trust me that this is essential and so yum. I don’t make it until the day before Christmas Eve though because it doesn’t last nearly as long as a fruit cake.