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Christmastide

I love Christmas. I love the decorations, the lights, the gifts, the food, thectime off work.  

Some people seem to feel Christmas ends the day after Christmas. They can’t wait to put away their decorations as soon as possible, seemingly taking pride in boasting that all is packed away by New Year. 

I operate in reverse. We don’t put up decorations until well in December but I keep them up for the Twelve Days of Christmas. 

Of course I love the actual day too. 

First we enjoy giving and unwrapping presents in the morning. Not so early now my boys are grown up. In fact I am the one hassling everyone to get up even though we don’t go overboard and give a small number of gifts to each other. 

We always have a long and large lunch with extended family. Each family contributes to the spread. We start with lots of different nibbles. Smoked salmon and cream cheese on bread rounds. Skewers with cherry toms, basil and bocconcini. Dips, cheese and crackers. Chips. 

Main course is hot, except for the ham. Roast turkey. Roast leg of lamb. Roast beef. Baked potatoes and sweet potatoes. Peas. Condiments: gravy, mint jelly, mint sauce, cranberry jelly. 

Dessert: Christmas pud with custard and cream. And always something else. This time a chocolate mousse cake. 

There are copious quantities of alcohol consumed. (Not by me this year as I was doing 30 days alcohol free.)

Then comes the truely magical time. 

Christmastide. 

Those days between Christmas and New Year are particularly sweet. I lose track of what day it is, let alone the date. Sydney is quiet. Everyone is resting and recuperating. OK, some mad people rush out for the Boxing Day sales but the roads are quieter and the suburbs blissfully so. Nothing has to be done. Nibbling on chocolates and stollen. Feasting on leftovers, so no need to cook for days. Reading. Lazing. Playing with and admiring new “toys”.

Mr S and I got so lost in what day it was we actually went to sort out some health insurance business on a public holiday. (Luckily the day was not wasted – I bought two pairs of swimmers – a bikini and a tankini.)

Although I spent a lot of time doing little (including reading and binge-watching The West Wing), I also crammed a lot in. Here’s some highlights. 

Not strictly Christmastide, but on Christmas Eve Mr S and I went into the city for a look at the lights, a meal and to catch a band in a pub. Both the band and the food were ordinary but we fun. Here’s a massive milk crate Santa outside the Museum of Contemporary Art. Is anything more Aussie than that?


We caught up with friends with an afternoon of nibbles and drinks in a prime spot on the beach. The water was quite chilly. But that was fine as it was one of the sweltering Sydney days and the breeze off the ocean made it 10° cooler. And then we went out for dinner. (Again pub food which was pretty ordinary.)


We caught up with another group of friends at an amazing Vietnamese restaurant in a part of Sydney that is mainly Vietnamese. The food was divine and the experience was awesome. This photo shows the remains of our food. Not very appetising, sorry. 


I was so impressed that I had to take someone there straight away. So when my sister came to spend a few days with me I took her and a friend on an adventure. They were as thrilled as I was with the experience. Actually this restaurant deserves its own post!


My sister and I used a gift voucher I had for a nail salon. She got her feet done as she doesn’t think her finger nails are worthy of treatment. I got my hands done as I hate my feet. Perfect match!


Then we went to a part of Sydney Harbour  that directly faces the opening between the two heads to the Pacific Ocean. 


As you can imagine, such an ideal position was originally used as a fort for defence. 


The old barracks are now a restaurant and after our exploration we had high tea with a view over the harbour. 


On New Year’s Eve Mr S and I spent the afternoon at a small gathering at friend’s place in a beautiful part on the lower Blue Mountains. Home just as it got dark, Mr S and I went for a walk along a bush track with torches. Everything looks so different in the dark!

One warm evening, we feasted on prawns and beer. Such a summer treat. 


Mr S and I went into the city to visit our favourite museum that often has a display of interest. This time it was on Sydney buildings that have been demolished. We then had dumplings for lunch at one of our favourite food halls. 

I cannot claim to be as frugal or anti-consumerist as I would like. I did visit the shops a number of times for some “bargains”. Not all for myself, though those that were for me, while impulse buys, will be used. Older son has joined the corporate world, finally finishing his double degree. His uni garb of shorts and jeans and sloppy joes and tees really wouldn’t cut it. He needed mum’s help to pick his wardrobe. 
Believe me when I say these last 14 days have been wonderful and relaxing. While we did quite a bit, there is no need at this time of year to justify or defend slothfulness or slow pace. 

With the decorations down, as tradition demands, on the 6th, Christmastide comes to an end. Mr S is always sad that another Christmas has gone but leaving the decorations up won’t hide the fact that Christmastide is over. 

Most of Sydney has returned to work or will in the coming week. 

Luckily for me the holidays will continue. 

Christmas Lights American style

The Dreamer, who loves California and has visited many times, said we had to see the lights in the 40s.

What on earth is that?

Turns out the streets in Sacramento are numbered or lettered.

The 40s is a residential area of older style houses. And many of the residents go all out with Christmas lights, including lights across the street.

Two days after Christmas, three days for us, everyone still felt in the Christmas spirit. So glad we got to see this. Wish I’d shared this earlier so you could have felt the Christmastide spirit.

42nd Street got my vote for first place.

It was all just beautiful.

Boxing Day, times 2

Shortly, we fly out on Boxing Day and will land in San Fran on Boxing Day, so we get two Boxing Days.

Well, can I claim it if the country we are visiting doesn’t recognise Boxing Day?

And is there any need to have a Boxing Day if you’re not enjoying the peace and quiet after Christmas Day and the mad rush of the pre-Christmas period by eating up the leftovers, enjoying your gifts and maybe catching up with family or neighbours who didn’t come over on Christmas Day and are likewise enjoying the chill of the day that is Boxing Day?

For some Boxing Day is the first day of the test in Melbourne or the start of the Sydney to Hobart or even, for the mad, going to the Christmas sales.

My Boxing Day before we left was none of these things. Last minute packing. A rush to the supermarket for some late requests for Aussie food items. And an anxious wait for my son who flew in from the States, minus Christmas Day and minus his luggage. [Thank you, Delta. Not.]

A heatwave is about to hit the east coast of Australia. I’m doing a #scottyfrommarketing (aka our Prime Minister) and leaving the country. I will miss Christmastide, one of my most favourite times of the year. Quiet. Chill. No pressure. No responsibilities.

But let’s travel!