My idea of Christmas was very much influenced by my Mom’s idea – Spicy, rich and white. Her idea of the festive season, in return, is rooted in years of English Christmas traditions and the many beautiful Victorian magazines she collected over the years.
We would spend some Christmases with my Mom’s family, others with my Dad’s and then there were the festive seasons we spent away, just us, on the coastline of South Africa. I think it was those times away from family that we got the most creative by amalgamating the white Christmas ideas with white beaches. We soon realised that a warm meal for Christmas while on the East coast (known for extreme heat and humidity) may not be the best idea. Our turkeys and lambs were replaced with seafood dishes and cold meats.
As we are now living on the coast, not as humid as our childhood destinations, but still not nearly conducive to a white Christmas, I have yet again gone back to a mixture of Nothern and Southern Hemisphere Christmas traditions and preparations.
I remember sharing these pre-Christmas days with my mom and sisters, and we spent days making wreaths and crafting spicy artefacts. This is what I am teaching Mishka too.
- Thinly slice apples and lightly paint with lemon juice on both sides
- Use kitchen towel to remove excess liquid from apples
- Sprinkle with cinnamon on both sides
- Oven dry @ 70 degrees Celcius for 6 hours
We use these lovely fragrant apples to make garlands by simply stringing it
- Thickly slice oranges and spread it out directly onto oven rack.
- Use an oven dish at the bottom of the oven as a drip tray.
- Dry for 4 hours @ 120 degrees Celcius
Neatly arrange cloves in the centre and string it for garlands or to use in wreaths
What this does is create a scent associated with the festive season. It is well documented that the sense of smell is closely linked with memory and is also highly emotive.
It is likely that much of our emotional response to smell is governed by association, something which is borne out by the fact that different people can have completely different perceptions of the same smell. – extraction for an article on Fithsense
We want to make sure that Mishka has only lovely and heartwarming memories of this special time, before and during Christmas. It’s not only a time for family and togetherness, it is a time to remember the greatness and salvation of the birth of baby Jesus.
The spice and crafts of my Christmas memories and now traditions are also a way to involve our family, to spend time together while preparing for our feast.
No Christmas is complete without gingerbread cookies. We took it a step further and built a gingerbread house. Decorations and intricate little tasks are all part of the plan to get Mishi to participate. To have something to look forward to at the end of the project. It requires attention and detail, and these little traditions are what make us who we are. It will become our traditions as a family and it will be what Mishka will share with hers.
Ian and I feel very strongly about making this a time of peace and love, of relaxation and family time. Our lives are so busy and with him having to commute every week, we absolutely cherish these moments, and that’s why we allow for extra-ordinary silliness in the silly season!
We wish you all a lovely pre-Christmas week!