Jo Sea­gar:

Jo Sea­gar breaks with con­ven­tion and de­cides to cel­e­brate the sea­son in a sim­pli­fied, stress-free way that suits her and her loved ones.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

cel­e­brate your way

Af­ter decades of Yule­tide mad­ness I’ve de­cided to take ad­vice from the movie Frozen… and just “let it go”. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not ditch­ing Christ­mas, but rather I’m giv­ing my­self per­mis­sion to make it easy on my­self.

It’s all the stress and as­so­ci­ated guilt I’m ditch­ing and we’re go­ing to have a lovely, sim­ple, mean­ing­ful fes­tive sea­son where smiles and hap­pi­ness will be the or­der of the day. Well, that’s the plan any­way.

I’ve fi­nally fig­ured out that it’s you who gets to choose the kind of Christ­mas that’s right for you and your fam­ily. There is no need to buy into all the frenzy and hype if you don’t want to. It’s not an exam, with marks out of 10 for per­fec­tion.

Dec­o­rate the house the way you want to – not ev­ery dec­o­ra­tion you’ve ever bought needs to hang on the tree, and the tree it­self can be a taste­ful cut branch of sil­ver birch or even a piece of drift­wood. Noth­ing ter­ri­ble will hap­pen if you opt for a small ar­ti­fi­cial one – it doesn’t have to be the tallest pine in the for­est or one that looks as if it should be grac­ing the cover of a brochure about Nor­way.

Ta­ble set­tings can be sim­ple. I’m think­ing jam jars with sprigs from the conifer hedge and maybe a red rib­bon or two placed in a line down the cen­tre of the ta­ble.

I won’t be hand-sten­cilling all the wrap­ping pa­per this year and, no, I’m not send­ing any Christ­mas cards ei­ther. Oh well, okay, per­haps just a few to the dar­ling oldies on my list – they re­ally are the only gen­er­a­tion now that truly ap­pre­ci­ates cards sent in the mail… ac­tu­ally, I’d bet­ter send those soon, as I think postal ser­vices have been cut back rather dra­mat­i­cally.

Make the food your fam­ily loves to eat. It doesn’t mat­ter if the fes­tive feast is wiener schnitzel or fried chicken, and straw­ber­ries and ice-cream re­ally is ev­ery­body’s favourite pud in my house­hold.

Don’t feel any guilt for tak­ing lots of short cuts and not mak­ing ev­ery­thing from scratch. If a tur­key and ye olde plum duff isn’t your thing, then ditch that menu by all means. There are a few es­sen­tial, wouldn’tbe-Christ­mas-with­out-them items on my list that will have to stay, in­clud­ing mince pies, but this year I’m cheat­ing out­ra­geously… My sneaky trick is store-bought mince pies, but I care­fully prise open the lids to give them a lit­tle top-up in­jec­tion of brandy but­ter flavoured with finely grated or­ange zest. Then I’ll cover my tracks with a gen­er­ous dust­ing of ic­ing su­gar – it works a treat and I’m sure there will be re­quests for the recipe!

I think there are so many neg­a­tive sides to giv­ing chil­dren ev­ery­thing they want on their “Dear Santa” lists. What does this teach young ones but how to be self-cen­tred and greedy? No one will miss out, but present-buy­ing will be highly re­fined this year. I’m let­ting all the friends and ex­tended fam­ily on the list know early on about this plan. That way, we’ll avoid any em­bar­rass­ment caused by over­laden gift-bear­ing vis­i­tors and there’ll be no dis­ap­point­ing sur­prises for the cast of char­ac­ters around the dinner ta­ble. The chil­dren won’t miss out, but the credit card won’t have a huge blowout ei­ther.

Funny sto­ries, jokes and happy rem­i­nisc­ing will carry on as usual, as will our joy in the fel­low­ship of loved ones. I won’t be stand­ing over a hot stove flam­bée­ing the Yule­tide goose or hand­sug­ar­ing vi­o­let petals, so this will free me up some­what to re­vive the rich tra­di­tion of Christ­mas sto­ry­telling and or­ches­trate a bit of a sin­ga­long around the piano.

Re­mem­ber, be flex­i­ble and laugh off any Yule­tide melt­downs – peace and good­will to fel­low man shall reign. The Christ­mas dinner where ev­ery­thing went a bit hay­wire is more likely to be fondly re­mem­bered than the one where noth­ing un­to­ward hap­pened and it all went smoothly to plan.

We will still have a Christ­mas cake, be­cause every­one loves it at my house, and there will be toasts to ab­sent friends and nana naps in the af­ter­noon – some things we sim­ply can­not change.

To you all, dear read­ers, I wish lots of laugh­ter, hugs, con­ver­sa­tion and happy con­nec­tions. This is the true spirit of the Christ­mas sea­son.

“Don’t feel any guilt for tak­ing lots of short cuts and not mak­ing ev­ery­thing from scratch. ”

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