My very best wishes to you and your families for a blessed Christmas. I hope your celebrations are filled with great joy, special times with family and friends, and of course some spectacular food!
As I have been preparing for our Christmas today, I have been reflecting about some favourite things that make my Christmas special. Some of these things are simple pleasures, and many of them are borne from childhood memories.
While many people have a song that might trigger a memory, I find that flowers often trigger mine. Nothing signals Christmas to me quite like hydrangeas and agapanthus.
One of the farms I grew up on had beautiful hydrangeas growing along the length of the house, and I remember as a child gathering up bunches of them, both pink and blue, to bring inside for Christmas lunch. I would put them in my Mum’s biggest Bohemia crystal vases.
My agapanthus memory is from one of my University lecturers when I was studying for my Doctorate. Dr Edith was the only woman in the Department of Agricultural Chemistry, and in an attempt to pretty up the annual Christmas party, she would raid the University gardens in Science Road and return with armfuls of agapathus. She placed them in the largest glass cylinders she could find from the lab and we would stand back and admire them together. I’m not sure that the men of the Department even noticed!
My all-time favourite Christmas foods from childhood are pickled pork and condensed milk mayonnaise! To this day, I still request them from Mum.
Condensed milk mayonnaise is one of those food oddities, like Vegemite, that you either love or hate depending on whether you have grown up with them. The mayonnaise is made from condensed milk, vinegar and Keen's powdered mustard. I suspect it originated in country days when the only milk available was in a can. How food availability has changed! My favourite Christmas meal these days is this mango, avocado and dill salad, combined with fresh prawns. Mmm!
My favourite Christmas carols have always been ‘Away in a Manger’ and ‘Silent Night’. As a child, I would go for a walk out to the paddock by myself and sing these at the top of my voice, trying to hit every note perfectly. I grew up with three younger brothers, so I sung in isolation to avoid the teasing!
These are just a few of my Christmas memories. I am sure you have many too. I hope you have time amongst the madness to remember some! Wishing you all peace and joy as we celebrate Christ’s birth.