Finally the time has come for the reveal in this the second of Mallory Hoffman's & my Artistic Challenges.
After our initial Artistic Challenge, Crush on Copper, we decided because of the time constraints that December brings (especially when you have a very important wedding taking place just 7 days before Christmas!!) we'd keep this months challenge simple.
The plan was that we'd highlight the extreme seasonal differences that our localities half a world apart afford us at Christmas time. You'd be surprised at the things you don't think of when you take the climate where you live for granted - the seemingly small differences that aren't due to any customs as such at all, but rather dictated by the weather as to what is available.
This summer, so far we have been blessed with incredible weather - so knowing that Christmas day was likely to be sunny & hot I focussed planning for our family Christmas to be primarily outdoors....& for the food to be kept simple in order that everyone could relax & enjoy themselves.
The weather came to the party providing us with a bright blue sky & fluffy white cotton balls...until about 9.30am when they had all but disappeared & leaving us with bright hot sun.
Just as well I had planned to borrow my brothers portable gazebo so the kids, big, small & 4 legged, had somewhere to play safely away from the harmful rays!
Those that had prepared the salads & desserts were quite happy to sit back & relax for a bit while others attended to the BBQ.
I truly do expect that this was the first time my wonderful sister in law Jackie had really sat down for longer than 5 minutes in the last month!
The array of salads - with a noodle salad on the far end (with a dressing that is to die for!!). Next to that was the most delicious Potato Salad prepared by the former 'terrible teen'& budding chef, Michaela! Mum's stuffing which is an absolute must, & the pièce de résistance of any event that I can manage to get her to make it for resides firmly at the centre of attention, even with BBQ'd meats! A fresh lettuce salad & a lovely Pasta salad finished off the array.
It was kind of cool that the lettuces & cabbage were picked fresh out of our garden that morning.
The meat maestro's at work - my beautiful new daughter in law Kerry, & my eldest son Jeremy.
Offering refreshment to the vege garden!!
Jackie's wonderful Pavlova with fresh berries on top...
Fresh fruit salad
For us the Christmas celebration runs over two days. December 26th, Boxing Day, is also my Mum's Birthday. This year she turned a sprightly 73 years young. While the family were together again on Boxing Day a few of us took the chance to go to the beach together. It was an overcast day & a little cooler than the day before - but the beach was calm & wonderful. Even if we did take a 10 kilometre round walk through Bottle Lake Plantation.....
The grandpuppies enjoyed it too....
I cheated & finally decorated the tree on Christmas eve, mainly because I wanted it to feel like Christmas for my nieces & nephew. May I add right here that around 11pm on Christmas eve is a darn bad time to discover that the light set you chose out of the three available & which you didn't check before you put them on the tree, aren't working.....
More in keeping with this Christmas theme would have been this, a Feijoa in flower.
Maybe that is an idea for next year :)
As I mentioned in my previous post, this was a blessed Christmas. Surrounded by all those that I love meant more to me than anything - it also offered up a wonderful surprise. But more about that later!!
No material gift could be better than the gift of spending Christmas day surrounded by the people in your life whom you love. Not a single thing.
The spirit of Christmas simply can not be bought in a store. Yesterday as I watched older cousins interact with the younger ones, a brother & a sister in law work together at the BBQ, fathers & sons setting up a gazebo, an Aunt & her niece figuring out a new cell phone & everyone scurrying around in between preparing food I counted my blessings - all 16 of them, family & extended family.
We kept the food & preparation simple & the shared workload light. It allowed us all time to enjoy one another.
Gabriela made me some beautiful candles as a Christmas present & Christmas night we watched TV by candle light.It was a perfect end to a beautiful day.
I was kind of hoping that yesterday would slip past in the rush of getting ready for the wedding this weekend. It didn't though. With Dad's passing so close to Christmas & happening on the day in between his brothers & oldest grandsons birthdays it's not likely that it will ever truly 'slip by'.
Instead yesterday, more than ever, I missed my Dad's presence in this world & mourned the fact that he isn't here to see his younger grandson Kieran get married this weekend to the lovely Kerry, or to see my oldest son celebrate his 33rd Birthday today. I wish he was here to see so many things in this wonderful expanding family of mine.
As I looked at the star sprinkled sky last night & marvelled once again how incredibly beautiful it was I knew that Dad, who always had such a great appreciation for the simple things in life (along with a decent red wine!), wouldn't want me to be sad. ... & that was why I chose to read Mary Frye's "Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep" at his funeral. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves.
I guess that trying to compose my speech for the wedding is bringing back memories of four years ago too. Then again Dad would have been the one that I asked to speak.
Oh yeah - I can see the twinkle in his eye so clearly now, as his mind would have progressed through all the possible tales he could have told about Kieran to a captive audience. He would have had such fun with that!!
I'm absolutely loving this song, so I thought I'd share.
In these days of almost instant everything, including contact with people half a world away, it's easy to forget that a wee pond called the Pacfic Ocean separates New Zealand & the USA by 9600km (6000 miles).
Two Western countries, culturally very similar & alike in many ways - but so very different in others. Not least of all the fact that we are seasonal opposites.
Never are the seasonal differences more obvious than at Christmas time. The early settlers to New Zealand brought all of their European traditions with them but over the years they adapted & evolved. I guess the lack of snow in Summer may have forced that issue somewhat ;)
For this months artistic growth challenge Mallory Hoffman (Rosebud101) & I have decided to compile photo journals of those Christmas contrasts.
I've never experienced a white Christmas although I grew up knowing of them as that was the stuff of my Mum's childhood. I well remember the very traditional English Christmas dinners - roast turkey, roast ham, roast potatoes, green beans, corn, carrots, stuffing, cranberry sauce & gravy - Christmas pudding, fruit mince pies, trifle, brandy sauce, cream & ice cream. Everyone used to fall alseep mid afternoon after that lot....well, the adults did & the kids had FUN!
Then somehow new potatoes & kumara (sweet potatoes) snuck in, someone decided they didn't like turkey that much & it got replaced with chicken, the hams became cold hams..how about a salad with that, it's too hot for all those roast veges. Before you knew it fresh fruit salad & Pavlova started replacing the trifle & then; "Oh the heck with it lets have a BBQ & make things easy". You get the picture...
Of course food isn't the only difference - but you'll have to wait until the reveal on the 27th December, 2010 to see the rest of the differences between the way Christchurch New Zealand & Minnesota, USA ( a mere 13,221km or 8216 miles apart) celebrate the holiday season.
Lets see what Mallory has to say about this challenge by visiting her blog!