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Christmas family traditions weren’t a part of my childhood. I grew up in a socialist country where Christmas wasn’t celebrated, at least not in my family. Eventually times changed, but it took a while for old Bulgarian traditions to come back to life. Then I came to Australia and Christmas became the time when I missed my family most. My husband comes from a non-Christian family, so neither of us gave Christmas a lot of thought until we had kids.
For a couple of years after our son was born we continued as if Christmas wasn’t a big deal. But then things changed. Little eyes observed all the excitement around us and lit up like Christmas lights. We got inspired to start creating our own Christmas family traditions, based not on our ambiguous religious beliefs, but on our family values.
We still have the first Christmas tree decorations our son made which are nothing other than toilet paper rolls with pieces of coloured paper stuck to them. Since then we’ve come a long way in creating decorations, cards and gifts for family and friends.
Each year we donate a few presents for kids who would otherwise receive no gifts. My kids still believe in Santa, so it’s a little bit tricky explaining why Santa would bring presents for some children and not for others (and it’s not because those other kids have been naughty). But even if my explanations are not very convincing my children still enjoy giving and making someone else’s Christmas special.
Everything seems to happen at lightening speed at Christmas – shopping, parties, end-of-year concerts, but it is still important to us to make time to just be and enjoy our time together as a family. I’m not usually a planner, but the challenge to create some slow time during the holidays means that I have to make an effort to get more organised. My diary and some meal planning become a necessity or I would never remember when and where I am supposed to turn up with a plate of food.
If you’re finding it challenging to get organised and slow down here is something that may help: Maggie’s Christmas, a book of Maggie Beer’s most cherished recipes and plenty of advice for stress-free entertainment.
What Christmas family traditions are you creating?