Archive for the 'festive season' Category

Christmas at our house

I’m really excited about Christmas this year, it feels like a milestone. You may remember Christmas was a difficult time for us last year. On Christmas Day Theodore screamed relentlessly, refused to feed and showed no signs of giving up his sleepless ways. I remember crying over my pudding whilst my poor friend Hannah tried to bounce him into a calmer state, attempting to feed him expressed milk for fear he would dehydrate. Somewhere in there, we celebrated the birth of Jesus.

This year we’re celebrating in a new city, in a new home and with a new set of friends. We have a sweet-faced, chubby-legged boy whose ways could win the frostiest heart. He and his sister have formed a cosy and formidable twosome, sleep soundly all night and are currently loving the Peter Combe Christmas album. We’ll shortly be heading south to spend Christmas with family, but nevertheless I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to celebrate in our own Brisbane way, bringing out mementos of our German Christmases, memories both painful and wonderful. The purchase of a Christmas tree (real or otherwise) seemed unwarranted, so we decorated a frangipane branch that fell during the recent storm. So much more Brisbane than a silly old pine.











Feeling inordinately blessed this year.


I wish you a Mary had a little Christmas tree*

I’ve been all but silent here lately. I wish it wasn’t so. But let me be frank, life is a struggle for us right now. Our Christmas was small this year. But I’m confident it’s one I’ll never forget. It began at 1am, then again at 4am, then another time at 6am before it properly kicked off around 7.30. The prevailing fog of desperate fatigue made it hard to feel festive. But somehow we were able to enjoy a present ceremony, church service, skype conversations and finally a delectable dinner with Chris and Hannah. Christmas traditions were adhered to rather rigidly when I was growing up. And that was good, they were good traditions. But a little flexibility is sometimes a virtue.

This year I didn’t bake lebkuchen or stollen. But I did bake fruit mince pies, with fruit mince I made from scratch. And Delia is right. I’ll probably never reach for the Robertsons again.

I didn’t make Christmas stockings for each family member, but I did buy antique pillow sacks from the flea market, and they looked grand.

I didn’t make a wreath or a dried fruit garland, but I did make potato printed wrapping paper with Rose.

I didn’t have time to make the brandy custard. But Hannah’s pudding was so indescribably delicious that ordinary cream was fine.

I didn’t knit or sew anything for anyone. But I did make homemade Nutella for Tony.

I’ve been hesitant to share this, lest Theodore read it one day and feel sad. Theodore if you’re reading this, please know that we love you. We know it’s not your fault that you cry and cry. It’s not your fault that you can’t seem to sleep, nor even eat, sometimes. We’re tired, so very tired. But we love you, and we always will. Long, long after this phase has passed.

Tony and I watched Meet Me at St Louis last night. Well, some of it anyway. Judy Garland was a strange looking girl. But I couldn’t help noticing these words are somehow very meaningful. For us, this year. So I wrote them down for Tony, in a Christmas card I painted with Rose.

Someday soon, we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

*The title of Rose’s personal carol

Under the tree…

I think His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales could declare the Campaign for Wool a resounding success based solely on the contents of my Christmas stocking this year. My friends and family know me well. I’m aware that “What I got for Christmas” is hardly original blogging ground, but since the givers weren’t able to see us receiving their gifts, I thought you might indulge me. Here are some of the lovely woolly things that were under our tree this year:

Some beautiful hand painted sock yarn by Etsy seller Sqwish.

A gorgeous woolly beret by the inimitable TOAST

A Harris Tweed plunger cosy by fieldytweed on Etsy

A tea cosy made from recycled felted sweaters by the clever Ecozee on Etsy

Handknitted socks bought from a local knitter in Leipzig

Two beautiful pairs of felted wool slippers by the talented Etsy seller ing00te.

Not pictured:
Merino wool singlets (thanks Grandma!)
Felted wool slippers for Rose
Merino wool top by Merino Kids

I’m sure you’d agree we were rather spoiled, in a woolly way. Thankyou for all the wonderful Christmas presents we received in the mail and in the bank this year. We’re so grateful for all of them.

Our white Christmas

I thought perhaps you might be a little sick of photo-laden Christmas posts from my corner. So, I delayed putting these up. But here they are for posterity – our very first winter Christmas. I learned that white Christmases aren’t perhaps as dreamy as we might think (or sing). They’re definitely pretty, but they play havoc with festive events of any kind. Unlike many others, our plans stayed relatively intact. Our lovely guests (Hannah and Chris) were brave enough to walk through the deluge to reach us for lunch. Unfortunately, when they did, we were huddled in our living room wearing hats, scarves and mittens after a grease fire in our oven lead to three hours of emergency ventilation measures. The goose was delicious, by the way.

#12 ‘Twas the night before Christmas

One can do a lot at the last minute. At the last minute, we’ve made paper hats and toilet roll bonbons. At the last minute my camera has arrived, and I’ve celebrated by breaking out the tripod I was given for my birthday. And at the last minute, I’ve knitted a Christmas ornament to match the one made by my sister in law; I had enough red wool from Rose’s cardigan, and I even found a tiny bell to hang inside it, hiding in my great grandmother’s button collection. Oh yes, one can do much at the last minute.

Dear friends, thank you for joining me for these twelve days of Christmas. I’ve had such fun sharing these experiences with you and loved the communication. I now know for sure that blogging competes directly with sleep. And with that I say “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”


#11 The Breakfast Club

I’m not exactly sure, but I believe the Breakfast Club started when all the Leemen children were away one Christmas. And somehow, the idea stuck. I can barely remember a Christmas morning when when we didn’t thrust aside our freshly unwrapped gifts, rip the labels of our new clothes and walk the short distance to Jill and Dick’s house for our annual neighbourhood breakfast. Essentially, the party is made up of three family groups (whichever fraction is present that year), but over the years we’ve had plenty of guest appearances by people who happen to be with us for Christmas. Exchange students, friends and long lost family members, we all become friends instantly when the bonbons are popped and the paper hats go on. To date, we’ve had visitors from Japan, Finland, England and Switzerland. Only now do I realise how those guests must have felt around the brightly decorated table, far from home. And that’s the thing I love about this tradition of ours; it’s a way of defying this strange, narrow idea of family we seem to have in Australia. Many of these friends I wouldn’t see from one Christmas morning to the next, and yet it wouldn’t be a proper Christmas without them. Others I have only met once, but it’s always a lovely feeling to meet a complete stranger on Christmas morning, during the most sacred family hours Australia observes. Though we never know who’ll be there, we do know what we’ll be eating. It just wouldn’t be right without large platters of fruit, bacon with maple syrup and Dick’s incredible blueberry pancakes. I’ll miss them sorely this year. To all of you in the Breakfast Club, I say “Fröhliche Weihnachten!” Thankyou Leemen family for being our hosts, neighbours and dear friends.

My apologies that the first set of photos failed to load. I’ve since added some more that Dick has dug out and scanned for us.

#10 Pack away your santas

Funny thing about Christmas in Germany: seems it’s over before it begins. With three days to go, it was a little disconcerting to watch the Weihnachtsmarkt being packed away before our eyes as we gulped our last feuersangenbowle. Perhaps it’s because Germans have been diligently noting the days of advent, marking each Sunday with successively lit candles, doing their elving early and often. Perhaps it’s a recognition of the need to actually spend time with family, as well as buy for them. Many friends have left for their various hometowns in the past day or two, preparing for intense festivities. It was a sad feeling to watch trees being undressed, schwibbogen packed into boxes and lights being switched off, while a month’s worth of snow lay around in muddy creeks and icy mounds. Meanwhile, we’re celebrating the arrival of Tim; a friend who has known us both since aged 12. As the time draws nearer, it’s slowly becoming real that we won’t be in Australia for December 25th. I know this is painful for our families in particular, and perhaps it’s been easier to gloss over this rather than acknowledge it. I encourage you to read this post by my Aussie friend Rachael, whose reflections after five years of living in Leipzig are invaluable. Perhaps I’ll take a leaf out of the book of German Christmas, and spend the three remaining days with family, immediate and otherwise.


About Me

A girl with a camera, a toddler and a sewing machine. Making sense of Germany... and life in general.

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