T’was the night before Christmas.. and the husband and I just finished watching the season finale of ‘Homeland’. Yes, I’m slightly horrified that that was our choice of Christmas eve afternoon viewing but in our defence, we wanted to wrap the series up and it really didn’t feel right watching it tonight (Christmas eve is reserved for one film, and one film only, ‘Love Actually’).
Luckily, there’s been plenty of more festivally appropriate stuff going on around here to balance it all out. This will be our second Christmas as a family of three (well five including Oscar, Felix and Arya) and our very first Christmas in our new home. While Ollie isn’t quite old enough to ‘get’ the whole concept of the holiday, he’s definitely picking up on the excitement and think he’ll be on fine form tomorrow. There is a definite possibility he may well lose his mind when he see’s the train set that ‘Santa’ will be setting up for him tonight.. We are definitely getting the video camera out for that one!
While we have a bunch of wider family traditions for this time of year, we haven’t really put anything in place as an immediate little unit to celebrate the season (well apart from ‘Love Actually’ which I’m not sure Ollie will appreciate.. yet). Last year we were OS and Ollie was 11 months so it was a bit tricky to really instigate anything of any significance. This year however, we’ve come up with a couple of little things that I’m hoping will become part of our celebrations for years to come.
1. The baking of shortbread
It’s a well documented fact that shortbreads are the best biscuits on earth. Research has confirmed this time and time again. And the only thing better than a buttery stick of Walkers straight out of the packet? The homemade variety. I’ve made shortbread for a few years now, both to
scoff enjoy in moderation with the family and to give as gifts. This was the first year that I’ve had a little helper though and though the experience was chaotic at times, it definitely added an extra element to the process. I’ve tried a few different recipes over the years and think I’ve finally perfected my biccies using a combination of recipes along with my intuitive knowledge of what makes an awesome shortbread. Definitely give these ones a whirl.. You won’t be sorry.
This year I’ve made a combination of the more traditional vanilla as well as a chocolate batch. You can either make two separate batches of dough or split the one batch by removing half from the food processor and adding cocoa powder to the remaining dough.
- 220 g butter, chopped into squares
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1/2 cup rice flour
- 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder (if making the chocolate version)
- Preheat the oven to 160/150 fan forced.
- Line a baking tray or tin with baking paper.
- Whack everything into the bowl of a food processor and mix to form a smooth dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead lightly.
- Using a spoon (I use my hands) press the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface.
- Bake for 30-45 minutes, depending on your oven. I find that ovens vary wildly as does the way the mixture heats through. Just keep an eye on it and when the top starts to turn very lightly golden, remove.
- Allow to cool and set further before chopping into fingers.
2. The making of reindeer food
This is the first year we’ve made ‘Reindeer Food’ and I’m a little bit excited about it! Prior to living in our current abode, we lived in a second story flat so even if the husband and I HAD been inclined to head outside and sprinkle some magic dust around, it wouldn’t have been all that logical (this is aside from the fact that we were childless for the large majority of the time spent living in said flat which would also have raised a couple of eyebrows). I stumbled across a bunch of ideas online and in the end, decided to see what the pantry had to offer to make up our batch.
We ended up combining steel cut oats, regular oats, rice bubbles, shredded coconut, hundreds and thousands and a generous helping of glitter to make the above jar. As the glitter isn’t edible (and we live in an area with plenty of wildlife ambling about) we are going to spread this on the paved area outside our front door tonight (which will make it easier for me to sweep up once Ollie is in bed) and leave a couple of carrots and some water just for good measure.Waking up to a glitter poisoned possum is NOT on the list for Christmas morning.
3. The letter from Santa
While we didn’t write a letter TO Santa this year, my little boy will be receiving one FROM the big guy tomorrow morning. We decided last night that this was something we wanted to start doing each year for our kids and as I’m the one who likes to put words to paper (or iPhone screen as it were), I ended up drafting out the text. I really love the idea of a letter each year that not only reinforces the magic felt on Christmas morning but also serves as a reminder of what’s happened in the year past. I made sure to include references to our new house, the way it was decorated, all our pets and the different milestones Ollie has hit this year. I also included a paragraph about the exciting things to come in 2014 (a new baby, starting kindy) etc so that when we look back in years to come, we can get a real sense of where we were at in 2013.
Below is the letter from Santa to Ollie, in case you need any ideas!
[ Dear Oliver,
Ho ho ho, merry Christmas! Have you found the presents that I delivered? I flew all the way from the North Pole and finally arrived at your house at 3am this morning. Thank you for hanging all those lights up on the balcony, they helped the reindeer find your house as it was very dark! Luckily we were very quiet and didn’t wake Arya or Oscar. We weren’t so lucky with Felix; he woke up and came outside to sniff Dancer and Prancer!
I hope you like your new kitchen, train set, tick tock clock, tea set and digger. Your mummy and daddy told me that you’ve been a very good boy this year who deserved a couple of very special presents. Not only did you learn to walk, run and dance this year, you also learned a whole lot of new words that you now use all the time. Your mummy and daddy are so proud of everything that you’ve done and love you very much.
Next year is going to be very exciting and I’m sure you’re going to be a wonderful big brother. I also hear that you’re starting kindy for the first time. I’m sure you’ll love it and will have plenty of chances to show me what a good boy you are and how well you share and play with the other kids.
I hope you have a lovely day with mummy, daddy, Nanna, poppa, uncle Johnno and all the rest of the family. Make sure you eat plenty of yummy food.
See you next year,
I’d love to hear what traditions you’ve started with your family. Please feel free to share in the comments below.
A very merry Christmas to you all!