I love Christmas – although I do still find it strange to celebrate it at the height of summer! Being Swedish, I am used to a white Christmas – freezing cold outside, surrounded by family and enjoying a roaring fire. However, I must say that after being here for a few years, I am enjoying the ability to celebrate the festive season in the sunshine.
My husband and I generally alternate Christmas between our parents’ homes, however this year we will be hosting Christmas celebrations at our home. It is a milestone for our little family with the recent arrival of our first son, Thomas. With my parents having joined us in New Zealand, I feel like this Christmas is beginning to echo my memories of growing up in Sweden. It is our first opportunity to begin our own family traditions and we are excited to mark this new stage in our lives in the company of our parents and little Tom.
My family has always had a strong sense of tradition, one of my favourite Christmas traditions being that we would celebrate both Christmas across the 24th and 25th of December. In Sweden, the major holiday falls on the 24th, while as we all know the 25th is the big day here. As I child I used to feel very special telling my friends we celebrated Christmas not once – but twice! It was only a few years later that I realised that I wasn’t actually receiving double the presents – my parents had just spread the gifting across two days
Joining my husband’s family I have loved incorporating some of their family traditions into ours – my favourite being a couple of bottles of lovely champagne to open presents on Christmas day! Over the past few years I have come to love celebrating Christmas in the South Pacific. The humming of cicadas, the excited yelps of children outside on Christmas Day seem to signify that it is now time to forget about work, relax and enjoy what has been achieved over the year.
I have also been lucky enough to spend a Christmas in the USA with my American host family when I was an Au Pair. I was really overwhelmed by the sense of social responsibility and charity in American during the Christmas season. It was a time where good spirits seemed to permeate throughout the country which took me aback. As my host children opened their presents on Christmas morning, I felt comforted that there were other children enjoying the morning who may not have been in a position to do so – my host mother would generously donate toys and food to local children’s hospitals and charities. This gesture really made an impression on me, as I thought it was an amazing way to teach your children how they could contribute positively to society. This act of charity and good-heartedness is something I would like to incorporate into our own family at this time.
Most importantly of course is the bonding of family and friends. We take stock of the trials and the high points of the year, put them to one side and enjoy the warmth of family time. If you have read any of my past blogs you will know I am an avid foodie, so you can imagine my levels of excitement just around lunch time. After 9+ months of not drinking while pregnant, I’ll definitely share a glass of champagne with my husband and our parents at lunch. I can see little Tom’s face now, looking up confusedly and wondering what all the commotion is about!
By the time this blog is online we will have commenced the countdown to Christmas. I urge you all to take a moment on Christmas Day to take a look around the room – the people you share the day with are a greater, more valuable gift than you can ever buy, no matter what the TV ads might say!