Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas memories

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.

Bloom x


  1. Condensed milk mayonnaise - that brings back the memories, Ros; my mum in NZ always made it. Merry Christmas to you and your family; I wish you hydrangeas and agapanthus by the armful!

  2. My mum still makes condensed milk mayonnaise and I have the recipe in the book of recipes I wrote down when I left home, although I only ever have it when mum makes it. My early Christmas memories are of my grandmother's, where we would have a fresh pine tree and there would be a mesh stocking for my brother and I full of little gifts with an orange in the toe. A very old tradition that has died out. Have a wonderful, blessed Christmas with those you love.

  3. Merry Christmas, Ros! I hope you and your lovely family have a wonderful day together.
    Hydrangeas - pink or blue? I love the blue but my grandma's were always pink. Not sure if she orchestrated it that way or if it was just the chemistry of her soil. I'm a fan of the blue agapanthus too, rather than the white.
    Do you know I have never heard of condensed milk mayonnaise. I feel like I've missed out. I bet it's a treat on ham sandwiches on Boxing Day. I love leftovers!

  4. Merry Christ,as to you and your loved ones Ros. It's amazing what we find we have in common with blogging friends. I love those two carols but my favourite would be "Hark the Herald Angels Sing". Growing up attending a Methodist Sunday School, we loved nothing more than a great big hymn now my favourite is "Silent Night". Guess what we're having for entree today? Mango, avocado and dill salad with prawns.

  5. Merry Christmas Ros!

    Great Christmas memories.

    As I child I always loved Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

  6. Condensed milk mayo was a staple in my childhood home....
    Memories of every second Christmas at Dubbo staying with the Grandparents. Church in the morning followed by many relatives and friends coming all through the day. Hot baked Christmas lunches, Christmas pudding with real sixpences in it and always a game of cricket in the backyard after lunch.

    I hear you have had a Christmas Day gift of rain today - it will be great for the gardens and the farm I guess. Merry Christmas!


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