24 Dec 2011

Magical Christmas Eve

We awoke this morning to New Year's Eve. Possibly my favouritest day of the year. The whole family is on holiday for 17 delicious days. The Christmas period looms ahead with all its magic and excitement, and we are home alone. Lovely.

For breakfast on Christmas Eve we eat Julegrøt, (Yule Porridge), the traditional Norwegian Christmas Eve breakfast of creamy rice pudding with butter and sugar and cinnamon . This festive breakfast has wonderful associations for me of a marvellous Christmas spent with cousins in Norway. My first white Christmas. (You can read more about it here, if you like.) In one bowl of porridge will be an almond. Much like the charms in the Christmas Pud. The finder of the almond traditionally wins a marzipan pig, but the marzipan pigs we find in Australia are yucky, so we substitute with a chocolate animal. This year, for the first time, Jemimah found the almond. She was delighted to put an end to Daddy's winning streak.

Elves in Scandinavia are called Nisse. They're naughty, mischievous little imps and can cause all sorts of trouble around your home and property if you don't care for them properly. They move all the animals around, braid the horses' tails together, pranks like that. Naughty. All sorts of trouble happens if you don't care for the nisse. Fortunately, they don't ask for much. All they require is a bowl of risengrynsgrød with a knob of butter set outside your kitchen door or in your barn on Christmas Eve. Don't forget the butter, though, or else. Of course, you know what happens if you put creamy rice outside - the cats eat it. Of course they do. The nisse know this too, so you always accompany the rice with a wooden spoon. Not for eating the pudding with, although it helps, but for beating the cats away with. Once done, you can be assured of another year with well behaved nisse. Well worth the trouble. We don't have a barn here in our Melbourne home, but the bowl of risengrynsgrøt is sitting outside as we speak. Just in case we have nisse here in Australia as well. Can't see why we wouldn't. The bowl always comes in clean anyhow, and it can't possibly be the cats. Can it?

After breakfast we open the presents around the tree. A few years ago we realised that gifts from family and friends tended to get lost in the flurry of Christmas Day, and so we started our tradition of opening them on Christmas Eve. I love it. It is just the three of us. We open each present slowly and enjoy it. Best of all, there is still the anticipation of more to come, so if a present is not 'exactly what was hoped for', then it is still possible it might arrive tomorrow. I have never known anybody to be disappointed by a Christmas Eve gift. No expectations - that's what I love about today.

Later this afternoon we will travel down to Mum's in Geelong for our traditional Christmas Eve meal of Roast Ham, Boiled Potatoes dripping with butter, and Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce. Summer Pudding for Dessert. We began this tradition a few years ago to justify the purchase of the ham. It seemed crazy to buy a whole ham just for a slice each on Christmas Day, and weeks of leftovers. This way we enjoy two meals out of it, and still have a little left over to eat with lettuce and cranberry sauce in fresh white bread rolls on Christmas night. This evening family friends will be joining us. I am looking forward to it very much.

Right now Jemimah and I are watching The Polar Express. We are sipping on Hot Chocolate served just as the song begins. You know the one. No, it doesn't matter that is is 34°C outside. Some things you just gotta do. Tradition, right? Daddy is doing secret wrapping business in the kitchen behind closed doors and listening to John Rutter. Since the only gifts he wraps are mine, then I believe that it is highly important to leave him to it. For as long as he takes. You just can't hurry things like that.

We're munching on shortbread and chocolate from the gifts under the tree. Jemimah is still nibbling on her chocolate rabbit. She's finishing up a few gifts that need a bit of painting, and is wearing a Santa hat. And the tee shirt and shorts she's worn every year since she was three years old. This year the shorts look like cycling shorts and the tee shows a bit of midriff if she raises her arms, but she looks really, really cute. And happy. And excited.

I'm happy and excited too. Can you tell?

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone.


  1. That sounds delightful!

    We've spent the day on the house and yard jobs and baking ... Milk & Cookies white chocolate blondies, gluten free bread stars (for jam) and twists (with sundried tomato pesto), and gluten free coconut and jam slice. Mmmm!

    Games of Guess Who and Chess, stories, giggling and wrestling ... we're all so happy Daddy is on holidays.

    Have a delightful time with your family :)

  2. Wonderful festive traditions...love it! xxx

  3. Absolutely delightful. We have spent the day in preparation mode. The girls went out for a bike ride with their Dad and Pa leaving me by myself to wrap and make those last minute things.

    Now we are preparing to put out food for Santa and his reindeer and our sacks to hold some special gifts.

    Happy Day

  4. I love it! Sounds like a great time, I love hearing about the excitement of it all! I wonder how many more years Jemimah's outfit will last, you could always add on to the hem?! I would like to live in your kitchen each Christmas, sounds too delicious. We are all "camping" in the lounge room tonight (the three big kids, Simon, myself and the dog). I hope sleep happens. Love to all of you this Christmas Jeanne. xo

  5. I'm a lurker but I just loved this post! So sweet & homemake-y! It seems to me that my children and I read about about the almond in the pudding last year but I'm forgetting the title of the book! The girl ends up secretly giving it to her injured brother? or something...it was such a sweet story! :)
    Merry Christmas!

  6. It sounds like it (was) wonderful. It's 7:19 a.m. here, but according to the online clock that makes it 11:19 p.m. in Melbourne, so I guess your Christmas Eve is just about over! Since it's Saturday morning here, we still need to go out and do a grocery shop since we are hosting tomorrow's dinner and need to pick up the fresh stuff ("No tinned, mind you," says the Water Rat). And there are always a few chores left to do. But tonight we go out for Chinese food before church--looking forward to that, and to a special family time afterward around the Advent wreath.

    It's doubtful that we'll have a white Christmas this year, even in Ontario. But you never know.

  7. Merry Christmas, Jeanne! Last night, Christmas Eve, we attended our church's 5 PM service, in which the children lead us in carols, Scripture readings, and their own "performance" songs. Our pastor does a one-man-show portraying someone from the Christmas story; this year, he was the guy who took the last room at the inn (fictional, yes, but clever!). The service was packed, the children were excited, the joy was abundant. Afterward, several of us gathered at our friends' house for the most scrumptious buffet (our friend trained as a chef -- AND it's her birthday party, too!) and lovely conversation. Then home to bed.

    I loved reading about your Christmas Eve traditions.

    Blessings! Ellen

  8. Just stopping by to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    Ring true,

  9. Jeanne, is that first picture an illustration from a book? If so, which one? It looks delightful.

  10. I read the illustrated version of The Hobbit! It was so good! :) Thanks for the recommendation. I hope to read it soon to my children also!


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