26 December – Boxing Day

Wrapping it up

So here I am on Boxing Day, my second favourite day of the year, kicking back with a cup of tea and a cherry tart, thinking about what went wrong yesterday (which was quite a lot, but nobody cared) and what went right (which was that we were a happy family, celebrating together on a happy day), but I haven’t forgotten you, my dear readers. I was intending to finish this blog with multiple choice questions to test what you learned about Christmas during the year but I will instead list what I learned myself:[1]

  • Christmas is indeed for everyone but, even more importantly, Christmas should be by everyone: everyone should have a say; everyone should have a role; everyone should be part of the preparation. Let there be no spectators.
  • And this means that you can’t be dogmatic: Christmas should include all of the things that the people around you care about, even if they don’t fit your decoration scheme or menu.[2]
  • Planning is good, but be flexible.[3]
  • And make your crackers later in the year: you really don’t know in April how many people you’ll have for Christmas in December!
The party’s over. (Till next year.)

Stop press: Hannah and Lachlan just came around to tell me that they’re getting married. Oh my goodness! I have a wedding to plan!

[1] Yes, I humbly concede that you can be an expert on Yule logs and Santa Claus and plum pudding and still not know everything.

[2] So pierogi are definitely in for me but I’d still like to draw the line at Brussels sprouts!

[3] This may be an excuse for over-catering (not that anyone in my family needs an excuse!)

19 December

For you

Here’s my Christmas present to you: yuletide gift-bringer selection tool

And this is what you do with it:

  • Print it out, double-sided. (Flip it on the short-edge if your printer gives you that option.) This should give you a page with doors on one side and green text boxes on the other, and a second page with pictures on one side and nothing on the other.
  • Cut around 3 of the 4 sides of each door, but don’t cut the left sides of the doors. (A Stanley knife[1] is a good tool for this, and a steel ruler will help you get it very straight.)
  • Put glue on the page with the green text boxes, but don’t put any on any of the green parts. Make sure you glue the edges well.
  • Carefully put the picture sheet on top of the green sheet, lining up the edges well, to make a sandwich:
    • The door sheet will be on the bottom, facing down.
    • The green text box sheet will be on the back of that.
    • The pictures will be the start of the next layer, facing down.
    • The top of the sandwich will be the blank page.
  • Now wait for the glue to dry.

Then you will have something that opens like an advent calendar but will explain the difference between the guys in red to your visitors. (You, of course, already know the difference between Sinterklaas and Father Christmas!)


Jeremy was helping me cook dinner when Danni asked, “What are we doing on Sunday?”

“You should know – we’ll be at your parents’ house,” said Jeremy.

“Not on Sunday,” said Danni. “We’re Serbian.”

“You are?” I said. “That’s wonderful!”

“What’s so good about being Serbian?” asked Jeremy, and then he added, “Is it racist to think that all Serbians are good?”

“Serbians celebrate Orthodox Christmas,” I explained, “and that’s on the 7th of January.”

“That’s right,” said Danni, “so what are we doing on Sunday?”

“Hey Mum, we can come to Christmas after all!” said Jeremy when he finally worked it out.

“That’s really, really good news,” I replied. (I felt like a two-tonne hat had just been taken off my head, and my eyes teared up, but I blamed the latter on the onions.)

I’ll have to extend the table after all. “Cosy” just doesn’t feel like Christmas to me. And I can justify making cherry tarts now, which is even better!

Mind you, it does mean I’m heading back to the supermarket tomorrow for mascarpone. And I’ll have to see if there’s any chance my butcher can upgrade me from that size twenty turkey. (We’ll have enough for dinner but there wouldn’t be much left over for tea and that’s not the way we roll in my house!)

[1] Also known as a retractable safety knife, or a box-cutter. (Yes, that’s the tool that brought down planes on 9/11, but it can be used for good as well as for evil.)