I haven't managed to play with fabric and thread very much in the last few weeks, but Christmas preparations in our house are well on track. The house has had its Christmas clean (the boring bit),the Christmas biscuits are made (that's more fun), and the Christmas tree and decorations are up (and that's the best bit by far!)
My first Christmas out of Australia was when I was 22. It was spent with my husband's parents and brothers in Denmark, and what a life changing experience that was! It wasn't only the ice and snow, but the food and the decorations were all so different. The Danish red and white flag lends itself so well to the Christmas theme, and hundreds of tiny Danish flags on strings decorate the Christmas trees. The other decorations were carefully crafted and many were hand embroidered. At least half a dozen different types of Christmas biscuits were made in each home, and served with hot spiced wine for supper, or with coffee at afternoon tea time. Back in Australia, we took our favourites from each of our Christmas traditions, and made Christmas a special family celebration. On Christmas Day, we have the cold meats - ham, roast pork and chicken, and salads that I grew up with. This year, instead of the cold prawns that we usually have, we'll do some extra spicy prawns on the barbecue for our new daughter-in-law who was born in the Philippines and just loves her chili hit! So a new tradition may be born.
For dessert, we have the Danish Ris a l'Amande - a cold vanilla-flavoured rice pudding mixed with whipped cream and chopped almonds, served with a hot cherry sauce, that is much better suited to the Australian heat than the heavy British-style Christmas Pudding that I had never really liked anyway. And instead of fruit cake, I make as many of the Danish Christmas biscuits as I can get done in the weeks before Christmas. This year, we've had a wonderfully cool lead up to Christmas, so I've done lots of baking. The tins are bursting with Brunkager, Pebernodder, Aeggeblommekager, Kanelstjerner and my version of Rutebiler.
I love decorating the tree, because it's so full of memories. The little cross-stitched 'pillows' that my Mum made 30 years ago, using patterns from a Danish cross-stitch book that she'd found, still look as fresh as the day she gave them to me as a surprise. Then there's the tiny knitted angels that my mother-in-law made and posted from Denmark all those years ago, and the angels that I have embroidered. Of course, the strings of flags that we bought in Denmark add the finishing touch, and even though it's a plastic tree, because we can't get anything like the real thing here, and we can't light those candles, it still looks pretty special to us.