Trying to distill Christmas into a bottle is like trying to catch a soap bubbles without breaking them. It can be done, and I am prepared to give it a go. Childhood Christmas memories are wound protectively like insulation around the neurons in my brain. I am hardwired to love Christmas and I enjoy taking time to reminisce over cherished moments.
Living in the Wild West
I have clear memories of Christmas in the SE suburbs of Melbourne. Where houses were humble homes and children were seen but not heard and actively encouraged to go play outside away from the adults. When siblings were generally ignored during the year then suddenly became holiday frienemies. Long hot summer days filled with glasses of fizzy Schweppes lemonade and emancipated dress code. The sound of crazy laughter echoed across the neighborhood streets with holiday hyped kids running amok in bather’s and thongs for months at a time, riding bikes, swinging off the clothes-lines, running under the garden sprinkler, and if you were a fancy person, paddling in the above ground Clarke Rubber swimming pool. The joy of working collaboratively with arch-rivals to create the best whirl-pool, thong wars and burnt feet on the concrete driveway, scrapes and scabs from climbing over backyard fences, perpetual peeling nose and red shoulders. We had it all back then. Sausages sizzling on the BBQ, brown paper bags filled with grapes to snack on, staying outside until it got dark with a chorus of circada’s looking for their mates. Technology was a torch and the software our imaginations as we made up scary torch games with our mates until we were called inside and to bed. I recall having loads of freedom and unsupervised fun as testament by the number of freckles on my body.
I remember being genuinely excited for the festive season to arrive. Local excursions to the shopping centre to admire decorated windows, writing Christmas cards, sitting on Santa’s lap telling him about the latest toy you really wanted, then looking longingly at mum and dad hoping you would get lucky. Yep I knew!! Helping mum decorate the prickly pine Christmas tree with precious glass ornaments stored in the corridor cupboard and bought out once a year like fine china to adorn the shaggy tree. Marveling at the sparkling glass balls which traveled all the way to Australia from Holland back in the 1950’s. Helping mum clean the house by getting out of her way. Watching my Oma in the kitchen preparing traditional treats like croquettes, trifle, almond rings and gingerbread. It was mandatory at my house to listen to Bing Crosby “White Christmas” record on Christmas Eve. After a couple of drinks even the adults were playing games with the kids and having fun. With everyone relaxed the mood became tangibly festive. Eating, drinking, playing games, watching Christmas movies on TV and opening one present from under the tree (a family tradition) served to build up the feelings of excitement that only children can honestly express. For Santa’s sprites the year had reached its pinnacle. Another round of ice cream spiders please.
The Best of Times
Christmases past are firmly fixed in an orbit around 1970’s where my world seemed simple and happy. Full of family fun. Where time was in abundance and entertainment free. The end of the year heralded a welcome change of pace, working as a team to pack the caravan for our annual family road trip. Imagine if you will, four rambunctious children jammed safely in the back seat of the Holden station wagon “no seat belts” playing eye spy games and occasionally fighting for elbow space. Windows wound all the way down to cool red sweaty faces. The chanting of “are we there yet” Seaside holidays filled with sun sand swimming and loads of fruit salad and ice cream. Eating dinner from plastic plates and cutlery. Etched into my hippocampus are images of mum sipping on her sweet white wine, pen poised in the air thinking about words to complete yet another crossword. Dad on the other hand delighted in talking to strangers. He wasn’t a big drinker, although I do recall him enjoying a glass or two of Melbourne Bitter beer with dinner. Like clockwork he would begin and end the day with a stroll around the caravan park chatting to anyone and everyone with many small children in tow. These were safe steady simple days. Life was good and the worst thing you were going to catch was sunburn. Nothing gets better with age except memories.
The “Beer Cocktail”
I love a beer as much as the next Aussie. In summer nothing comes close to a refreshing ale. Now my better half suggested that Australian men don’t do Christmas Cocktail’s so I was up for the challenge of winning them over. After a lively discussion I decided to create a cocktail that Aussie men could embrace – the beer cocktail. Sounds plausible? So I give you my take on an Aussie Christmas Cocktail- try it out see what you think. Choose your preferred beer “Ale” or “Lager” that is whatever is in your fridge, pour beer into a glass add a splash of lemon simple syrup, dilute with some soda and “bottoms up” Sorry back up, lets get serious; take a prepared cold pot glass out of the freezer, wet the bottom of the glass with the lemon simple syrup then add a splash of soda and swirl to mix. Fill the glass with ice cold beer. Make sure to stare appreciatively at the cocktail, strike a pose and sip. Sip again, savoring the vibrant flavors of this cocktail whilst reflecting on the year that was. Mission accomplished..now slam it down and make another. Think I got the last bit right. So that’s it from me for 2020, see you on the other side.