This year, after many years of hosting extended family Christmases, it will be just us at home together, plus one set of beloved grandparents. We have completed the round of end-of-year events, and gifts were purchased a while ago when there was time to ensure we could source considered and, if possible, beautiful things (plus the odd bit of outdoor equipment!). Whilst it is still a busy time of year for us, because we live remotely we do not get caught up in the commercial frenzy of frantic buying and stress.
Instead, we have time to immerse ourselves in Christmas traditions, which are a cherished mix of old and new – some that we have created as a family together, and some passed on by the generations. There is time for baking and making, preparing home-made gifts for teachers, friends and family. We attend Christmas celebrations at an old country hall, where after a quick service and some rousing carols, the kids play in the creek and climb the water tank and race around the paddock. We host a Christmas party for the neighbours of our area around a big open fire under the stars.
Every evening we light another candle on our advent spiral, counting down the days until Christmas Day. And the children enact the story of the nativity with our beautiful wooden figures, gifted to me one-a-year every year by the family I stayed with on exchange in Germany when I was 18, until the baby Jesus is placed in the manger on Christmas morning. Sometimes we go for short rides/walks together at dusk, because it is school holidays and there are no bedtime pressures. Along the way we gather wildflowers – there are so many after all the rain – and flowering gum. I love to fill the house with gum at Christmas – with its fresh scent of eucalyptus, green leaves and delicate white blossom it is the perfect ornament.
Traditions like these generate much excitement and build the Christmas magic in our home. Most importantly, there is time to consciously celebrate light and love – of Christmas and of family.