Remembering Traditions

Coming from a European background, Christmas in the family home of Casa Del Ren was a little bit different to that of most of my friends as we were growing up. My classmates and closest BFFs would excitedly look forward to Christmas morning and even though many of my friends were also European, they embraced the the 25th of December as their official Fun Day. As most Aussies do, I dare say.

For our family, it was all about Christmas Eve. Of course, our Christmas season started some weeks earlier with the Austrian Club Christmas party where a whole bunch of families would gather for a massive picnic and then Saint Nicklaus would appear, with the Krampus tethered to his belt. As always, the Krampus got loose and started chasing after the “naughty children” who were nearly always invariably the adults.

Because adults are bad, yo.

And St Nick would hand out presents and lollies and WHO DOESN’T NEED A BUNCH OF KIDS HYPED UP ON SUGAR FOR THE HOUR DRIVE HOME?!

St Nicklaus & The Krampus by Brandon Dawley

St Nicklaus & The Krampus by Brandon Dawley
(Click to see Brandon’s stuff.)

Anyway…

On Christmas Eve, the family would gather for a huge dinner of Austrian-inspired delights such as griessnockerl soup (semolina dumplings in broth) and semel knoedel (bread dumplings) which were usually eaten with a goulash or a creamy sauce, mountains of schnitzel, apfelstrudel (apple strudel), vanillekipferl (moon-shaped, heart-attack-inducing-because-of-all-the-butter shortbreads coated in icing sugar) and a plethora of other goodies. Of course, the food menu also included the more widely known traditional stuff like turkey, roasted veggies, a big-assed glazed ham and my mother’s awesome cauliflower soup (which I may post the recipe to because it’s awesome).

But more importantly than the food, it was a good family time. For many, many years it was everyone in the family who gathered either at my grandmotherfromhell’s place or our place. Gradually though, my aunts went and had their own families and now live hours away, my grandparents died, my folks split up, friendships changed… so on and so forth and now… well there’s been a big movement in the family (of a family that’s not really very big at all) to convert to the apparently more appropriate way of celebrating Christmas.

On Christmas morning.

To that, I say; fuck. Fuck that with a big… thing.

I don’t like it. After 30-something years of celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve – YES, THAT INCLUDES OPENING PRESENTS – I’m finding it hard to stomach.

See, Christmas Eve used to be extra special because unlike all the other little boys and girls, I got my presents the night before. My family used to say that it was better that way because while all the other kids had to wait until whenever, we could spend ALL DAY from sun-up to bedtime playing with our new things.

You can understand that as a kid this was TEH AWSUM.

But like I said, things have changed. Now my sister, the turn-coat little shit, wants to do Christmas on Christmas Day. My aunts do Christmas Day, my friends now do Christmas Day. Even my husband, who I take great pains to remind that he spent EVERY Christmas Eve in Perth with his Polish extended family doing the same thing as I grew up doing, has turned against me. For the most part, it’s been my mother and I desperately trying to hold onto tradition and I am sad to say that we have failed.

Mum declared defeat last year and said she will not do Christmas Eve again as we used to know it.

We’re still having lunch, because that’s what we do, but it’s no longer the big, joyous thing it used to be.

And that upsets me a great deal.

I miss being a kid at Christmas time. I miss the way my grandad used to mercilessly tease my grandmother until she was a raving, bad-tempered loony. I miss my dad’s silly jokes. I miss taking the littlies for a walk in the park and getting back after 10 or so minutes to find OMGSANTACAMEEARLY! and the excitement and longing as we were made to wait until after dinner AND desert before we could open presents.

The manbeast, trying to be helpful in the past, has suggested that we make our own Christmas traditions but I’m going to revert to my inner child’s thoughts on this and say…

I DON’T WANNA!

I want my Christmas Eve back the way it was.

Growing up sucks.

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