“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents!” says Jo at the start of Little Women (fear not mates, there’ll be new bibles under your pillows in the morning), and as right as she is, Christmas is that time where you revive (or start) yearly traditions or it just doesn’t bloody feel like Christmas.
Much of it is fueled by nostalgia, and much of it for me nowadays is fueled by the nostalgia I want my kids to feel when they’re 150 years old and Christmas is more stress than weeks upon weeks of magical joy.
When I was a young’un, my granny would pony up a box of nice hankies for the lot of us, and it’s something I actually miss. We’d go to my nana’s in Rushworth and I’d make up stuff to get out of going to church and I’d pretend I knew anything whatsoever about cricket and we’d eat enough food for 73 people and I’d have to sleep on the couch under the world’s loudest ticking clock.
I can’t tell you when the chocolate rum balls and the potato bake started, but Christmas most definitely isn’t Christmas without either of them.
I mean really…. why not?
And to be honest, there has to be roast pumpkin and some kind of gravy and I’m set.
Oh wait, and pavlova. Everything else can come and go, but these food facts remain the same. I use the pavlova recipe from an old Woman’s Weekly cookbook (something do with classics? or basics? I don’t know, it had tons of everyday recipes in it like pikelets and roasts and stuff), and the pumpkin has to be Kent or Queensland Blue.
Oh we also had a Tofurkey one year… I didn’t totally hate it.
The tree has to be up before December (deal with it, naysayers! No idea where this December 1st “rule” came from but it appears arbitrary af and I’ll put my tree up whenever I damn well please) and there has to be white lights. WHITE. I’ve eased up on the tree colour scheme over the years but red, green and gold still feature heavily. I also like to raid the boxing day sales for expensive Royal Doulton decorations when they’re cheap as chips – otherwise I could never afford them!
I used to put the christmas tree up while watching a B-grade horror movie just for shits and giggles, but I had to do that when the kids were old enough to make “decorating the tree” a thing, and a family-friendly one at that. I now have a Christmas playlist on Spotify which is very extensive, and we listen to that.
There are stockings, and santa sacks for the present haul, and Christmas books out for display.
Christmas sugar cookies and gingerbread men are a real thing here, and last year I delved into the world of trifle, after being terrified of it for years as a kid. I even bought sherry and I LIKED TRIFLE. I adapted this one.
A bit of port in a pot of Stilton is a new thing, but a very welcome one.
Everyone gets a book and a new set of PJs on Christmas eve, with a little treat tucked up inside. I buy myself the Clotted Cream Fudge from Aldi every year as my treat, I can 100% recommend.
Last year we had bagels and bloody marys for Christmas breakfast (I appear to have temporarily given up the 6am scotch – you know, the festive drink you pour when you’re up and about early to put the roast on? Nowadays its rum and mango daiquiris but not until at least 8am).
And from there…. it’s a free-for-all. Whatever the day brings, I will drink it, eat it, do it, and sing it. Wherever I am.
Can also recommend:
Tomato Relish/Chutney to give as gifts (made from canned tomatoes so super-simple!)
Pear, Cinnamon and Vanilla Bean jam for gifts too
Vanilla Bean Baked Cheesecake
Eton Mess (especially good if your pavlova doesn’t work out!)
And there you have it! My Christmas non-negotiables. What’s on your must-have-or-it-just-ain’t-Christmas list?