First of all, I hope you have all had an amazing Christmas and a great start to the new year! 2018 is well on it’s way. Just like that. Lets make it a good one, shall we?
And now, for the interested, a little bit about how we spent our Christmas and New Years here in Australia.
Christmas Down Under is always an emotional one for me. All I really want for Christmas is to be with my family in Denmark, so to celebrate it here – pretty much as far away as I can get – is not always easy.
This year we had a dream to fly home for the Holidays. A dream that I somehow kept alive up until the very week of Christmas. Because of this I mentally didn’t prepare for Christmas here. I didn’t plan anything. I didn’t even buy any presents.
Then reality hit. The plane tickets skyrocketed and there was no way we were going to make it to Denmark this year. Then I realized that I had to get to work. I had to start organizing Christmas. In less than a week. Thank f*ck for online shopping and express shipping.
Josh’s sister Sarah got a last-minute invite for our Danish Christmas Eve here on the 24. and she brought along her dad (Josh’s stepdad) and his girlfriend.
Our “main Christmas event” is Christmas Eve on the 24. Dec. That’s what we call Christmas and that’s what we count down to in our family.
So, how does a traditional Danish Christmas Eve go down in a country far, far away from Denmark?
We actually try to keep it as true to the “real deal” as possible – without the cold and the rain (yes, it rarely snows in Denmark for Christmas). To put it short, it’s something about the food, the hygge and the traditions – and the presents, but of course. And the dancing around the Christmas tree!!!
This year we started the evening around 4-5 pm. when the guests arrived for some hygge and some welcome drinks. Then at around 7 pm. we sat down around the decorated table and begun our Christmas dinner. This is a very important part of our Christmas – sitting together around the table enjoying lots of food and each other’s company. This year we had pork roast on the menu. In Denmark we would also have had duck, sausages and danish meatballs, but since I am no master of the brown cooking (all the food is literally brown), I tried to keep it relatively simple with just the pork roast, normal boiled potatoes, brown (caramelised) potatoes, gravy, red cabbage salad and potato chips. That I kept it simple didn’t mean I couldn’t fuck it up. And I did. The crackling wouldn’t pop on the roast in the BBQ. The sauce got waaaaay too salty at first. I burned the sugar for the browend potatoes and I forgot to put the chips on the table. But I almost saved it all, I think. At least the others pretended to love the food. Even Billie. Abby, not so much.
And I definitely didn’t ruin the dessert. Actually, it was pretty damn good, if you ask me.
For dessert we have a traditional Danish rice pudding called Risalamande (sounds french, it’s not). It’s a rice pudding with chopped almonds in it and topped with warm cherry sauce. The funny twist is that there is also one whole almond hiding in there and whoever gets that whole almond wins the almond present. Fun and games, fun and games. This years proud winner – Joshua Ray McMahon.
After dinner it was time to light the Christmas tree. That’s right, we put real candles on our tree and one of the traditions in our family is that the dad(‘s) light the tree while everyone else wait in another room. To get back into the living room to see the tree with all the candles on it is quite magical. Then we dance and sing around the tree. Yep, we do that. We hold hands while we walk around the tree singing Christmas carols – and the last song “Nu’ det jul igen” takes everyone all around the house running in a long line. It’s pretty fun and then it’s finally time to sit down and open all the presents. Finally!
Abby and Billie found all the presents under the tree and shared them around to the right people while going nuts opening their own presents. At this point the adults have a drink and some snacks and it’s very nice and hyggeligt.
And that was a wrap (all over the floor!).
On the 25. Dec. we do the Australian Christmas. Usually we go up to Sydney to have a Christmas lunch/dinner with Josh’s family, but this year we did things a bit differently.
We have some good friends here in Wollongong who months ago invited us to be a part of their family’s Christmas this year. What an honour. And, as we realized we wouldn’t make it to Denmark this Christmas, we took them up on it. Of several reasons. By staying local we would avoid the drive back from Sydney late at night, meaning the girls would get to bed at a decent time – our children rarely fall asleep in the car on the way home at night. They easily stay awake even at 9-10pm. Josh had to get up to work at 7am. on the 26th. and work for 12 hours, so a nice evening at home was appreciated.
Furthermore, Christmas in Josh’s family is extremely casual, relaxed and non-formal. Which isn’t a bad thing, really. However, I have always wanted to experience another kind of Aussie Christmas. One where there’s an abundance of food and Champagne (even though I couldn’t have any of that this year, boohoo!).
I didn’t get disappointed at the Hingstons’ Christmas feast. We were welcomed as part of their lovely family and the food – ohh my god, the food! – there was so much and it was so delicious. Firstly, we had seafood galore. Gigantic shrimps and oysters were shared around. And even though seafood is not my favourite, to say it in a nice way (which I’m trying to teach my children, so I’ll try to be a good example here), I actually enjoyed eating the biggest shrimp I ever did see.
Then the mains were served. So much goodness. Lamb roast, ham, turkey, salads, sauces, roast potatoes and bla bla bla. All homemade and fresh and yummy. We were pretty full once the dessert was served. Or should I say desserts. Again, so much deliciousness on the table. Cake, pudding, ice cream…I can’t even mention everything here. You get the point by now.
It was a very lovely day, we did not go home hungry and we even got to play backyard (on the street) cricket. Only thing missing to make it a “real” Aussie Christmas was the sun. We did miss that old mate a bit.
Thankfully the sun did come back for a short while when we went camping with the Hingstons (yes, the ones with the Christmas feast) for a couple of days before New Years. It was our tiny little bit of holiday during the Christmas and New Years period and it was great to have two days together as a family spend with good friends by the beach.
We got back home on the 31st around 2pm. We were all tired and none of us really had the energy or will to make a great deal out of NYE. Josh had to go to work at 7am. on the 1st. of January – I know, brutal! So, we ended up eating a rather plain meal together ,before we drove up to the top of Mount Keira to see the 9pm. fireworks from above. That was pretty spectacular and both girls were exhausted when we drove home. So were Josh and I, really. We did, however, manage to stay up ’til midnight, watch the Sydney fireworks on TV and share half a glas of wine (we forgot to buy champagne…). Boom!
2018 may not have started particularly extraordinary for us – but we do have a lot of dreams and hopes for the year to come. Of course, we will add another child to the family in around five months, but besides that we might have some huge News coming very soon. Stay tuned!