Monday, 24 December 2012

Why do we expect so much?

                                      In this western culture that I have grown up in,
                           there is an expectation that Christmas Day should be perfect?
                           This expectation seems to continue through the generations,
                          placing stress on families who feel that they should be doing their best
                                    to make it a perfect day, just like the picture books.

                                           The picture that we are painted as children is....

                                            Happy families around the Christmas tree,
                                                    Stockings filled with presents,
                                                   snow drifting outside the window,
                                                Turkey cooking and plum pudding.

                                                           Not here in OZ
                             It is hot hot hot... and  thunderstorms are predicted this year.
                                       There goes the picnic we had planned.

                                        So already the climate here creates a picture
                                           that is different to many children's stories
                                      suggesting that a southern hemisphere Christmas
                                               can't be as perfect as in it is in the northern part of the world.

                             Must we  pretend it is winter here with fake snow decorations?
                       Must Santa sit in the noisy shopping centres in his North Pole thermals
                                     when the temperature is calling for a nice swim?
                                   Why do we eat food at Christmas time
                          that we would not usually cook in the summer time?
                  It is all for the sake of a Northern Hemisphere picture book dream.

                               A winter Christmas is good if that is where you are.
                                 But if you are in the land of the sunshine
                                     why not rejoice in the difference?
                                             Well some do.
                                        However there is still a suggestion that
                               it is not as good as the white Christmas dream.

                             I have to admit that I do do the turkey and the ham
                                 and that my family do seem to look forward to it.
                                             Usually I do it for Christmas eve
                        so that we have salads and cold leftovers for Christmas day

                                How many people in the Northern Hemishere
                                manage to have a perfect Christmas anyway?
                              Even with all the weather patterns going their way,
                                how many manage to paint the picture perfectly?

                                      In my mind there is no such thing as perfect,
                                                          and I like that,
                                                 it makes life interesting.

                          Family gatherings are always full of different personalities and needs.
                                                    Different dietary requirements.
                                    Different ideas of what makes a perfect Christmas.
                         Everyone has to make compromises with large family gatherings,
                             it is good for the health to be able to accept differences
                                               as long as everyone else can also accept....

                             My daughter and I decided to make our tree purposely wonky this year
                         to acknowledge all the wonky bits of life that we regard as important to us.


                                                 We have several friends and family members
                                              that are struggling with health issues at the moment.
                                                    How can Christmas Day be perfect for them?
                                                                  But these people are perfect to us :)
                                                                       Deb L, Andrew J, Neill D, Bala,
                                                                                 love to you all.

                                                          There is also those who don't have family to be with.
                                               Christmas time makes a very lonely time for those people
                                                         when compared to the picture book dream.
                                                  How can they have a perfect day when society places
                                                         a pressure on them that is hard to avoid.

                                                    So many people are struggling financially
                                                but they still go and spend money that they don't have,
                                                    on things people don't really need or want,
                                                   in an attempt to make the perfect Christmas
                                                                   for their friends and families.
                                                                   They then become stressed 
                                                        at how they will pay off their credit cards.

                                                                       Stress over food....
                                                            stress over presents.....decorations.......
                                                            Who will go where and when
                                                                 and what will they bring
                                                                   Stress! Stress! Stress!.....

                                         Surely this is not the way to make a perfect Christmas ???

                                             I have always been one for making things at Christmas.
                             I loath the whole commerialism that starts around September these days
                        and works itself into a frenzy by Christmas eve and then it stops for two days
                           while families are toiling in their homes trying to make peace and happiness
                                                          in a very unhappy and hectic way
                                                      with food and stuff, stuff and more stuff....
                                     Half the time people feel a little disappointed at the end of the day
                                                    and then the post Christmas sales start.

                                   Now all this sounds like a big bit of ....BAH HUM BUG.... I know...

                                                    Hahaha....perhaps my mum is talking through me.
                                                 She was always festive when we were growing up
                                            but once we were adults she became a Christmas anarchist.
                                                Although she did love to come to my place for a feed.
                                                                     I miss her so much.

                                                I do love to cook up a storm for my family
                                                               and I love to give presents....
                                                              Especially if I have made them.


Though as the family has got larger
and I have got older it has become more difficult to make so many things.

When I was younger and my three eldest boys were little
I always made their main Christmas present.
One year it was a huge paper mache´
 Castle Grey Scull and Snake Mountain,
because I hated the whole plastic toy industry.
Another year it was a basket of dress up clothes featuring
Superman, Spider man, Monkey Magic
and an assortment of piratical and super hero accessories.
In my eye they were much better than the plastic stuff....
I'm not sure the kids always thought so at the time :D
but a lot of love went into them !

As I have got older and now a grand mother
my energy isn't quite able to keep up with my idealism
but I still do my best to fight commercialism.
Perhaps that's why my mum hated it as she got older too.

I have to take a deep breath
when I go to the shops at this time of the year
and force myself to slow down and
not get caught into the national Christmas stress

                       Life is too short to waste time
                  stressing over the impossible  "perfection".
                      Every ones Christmas day will have good bits
                             and bad bits....just like any other day.

                           Most of us love our friends and family,
                                   even with their differences and
                                   maybe specially because of their differences.

                                                   Often it is the difficult bits
                                     and the people that it is a bit uncomfortable to be with
                                                 that create interesting situations
                                         that have the most important lessons to learn from
                                                and the best memories to laugh at in the future.

                                            I am glad of the bumps and bruised bits of my life these days
                                                          I embrace them as they give my life character.
                                                            They remind me of how lucky I am. 

In fact Christmas day for me is doing things with people
who rarely see each other as a group
it is like a wedding, people gather for the occasion
If it didn't happen then they may not get around to see each other .
It is all about a motley crew gathering and enjoying their mottles.

I am afraid my head has had great difficulty with the gift side of things this year
I think my age is getting the better of me
or maybe my late mum's Bah Humbug is sinking into my bones.

Grandchildren have been my focus
Everyone else just gets jolly old me
with a glass of something nice...
and some goood food to share with me.

My main gift to me and my family this year has been a huge clean up.
So we can have visitors  to stay in a nice environment ;)

I have painted rooms
and used the plinths from the exhibition as storage.

My verandah studio got REEEAAALLLY bad in the lead up to our family exhibition
and then even worse again after the exhibition,
when lots of stuff was piled back in and no time to sort it out.
 I became busy in other ways
like going away to teach,
and general family hoo ha.
and the mess grew.....and grew....
This is how bad it got UG!

So I have been trying to clear my world a little for the start of the New year..
It helps me to have a goal when there is a mountain of mess to climb
This is how it is looking now :)
Still more to do, but much better.

 The front verandah is all planted with herbs and veg.
So this happy cooker can pick the odd herb.

It is all ready for teenagers to hang and grandchildren to come and play.

 The real task now is going to be my real studio!!!!!!!

 OH MY!!


( Now THAT will take some time yet!!!

But it will be a joy to work in once I have done it.

Here is my panettone recipe for Adriana 
 I always make it in time for Christmas.
We slice it in rounds , 
toast it and serve it with mascapone and stewed berries for breakfast.


But as this blog is about the imperfect Christmas....
I have to say that I really mucked up the panettone this looks like elephant dung....
I was trying to do 3x the quantity and I think I messed up the proportions :(
The question now is.... do I want to try again ?

Yes I have already started :)

Happy Christmas all.             


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