27 December 2011

an english country christmas

I'm spending a few days with the family I work for and their extended families at the country house they have. On Christmas Eve we all hung stockings on the main stairwell banister. Even I got one to hang. That was fun. My first ever Christmas stocking. I saw Father Christmas that evening in various shapes and forms around the banister.

My Christmas day began when I forced my body out of bed at 6am so I could go online to 'have Christmas' with MY family back home in Australia where most of them were gathering for a Christmas barbeque tea. It was lovely to spend a couple of hours chatting with video (when it worked), and three way conversations with my brother and his family still in Sydney. They waited to open my presents so I could watch which was really nice. It's one of my favourite Christmas traditions to sit around together opening presents. Eventually it was tea time for them and time to get dressed for me. We had an appointment to gather at the top of the stairs to check out our stockings!
They were fun and I got loads more than I expected. I mean, I never expected having a stocking at all but it was so stuffed that I had some presents on the floor underneath. I got a bunch of cool little knick-knacky things and some chocolate too. I wouldn't have minded just watching but this family is too hospitable for that. It was nice to be included. We went down for breakfast and then left for church. Unfortunately by this point my body was beginning to scream at me. Probably from the recent late nights and early Christmas start. I wasn't feeling so good, found it quite difficult to stay awake during the service though it helped that the sermon included four pass-the-parcel packages going around, a little nauseous and generally exhausted. I went straight to bed when we got home. My boss came and knocked on my door when lunch was ready but I still didn't feel like getting up so I ended up skipping lunch. After 2-3hrs in bed I felt a bit better so went down and nibbled a bit of left overs as they cleaned up from lunch. Bit of a pity to miss the main event of the day but I was glad that a long rest made me feel much better. I was still a bit weary so took it easy and drank water more often than I usually do.
We sat around in one of the lavishly decorated rooms with a little fire going. After a while a quiz box came out and we were answering questions that were read out. That was fun. Made me feel right at home too. It's one of the things I enjoy doing with my family on the odd occasions we do it. I got a number of questions right. There was also plenty I had no idea what the answer was. And I excitedly announced the answer (with some armraising for cheer) to the question, 'In which country do you find the Barossa Valley?' With the sons telling my boss' mum to relax and go with the flow, we were quizzed for quite sometime before we moved on with the next planned Christmas tradition. The lighting of the Christmas tree. Their huge tree, wonderfully decorated in silver and white, also had candles clipped to various branches. Real ones soon lit with real flame. Another first experience for me. They sung a french Christmas carol (my boss' mum is french) and then some english ones.

Shortly after this was present time which lasted for a long time. There were loads of presents every where. The boy absolutely loved his presents and was thrilled after getting a whole five presents and being consumed with playing with them that his other 20 presents were put on hold for the following days. It was wonderful watching them open presents. I always enjoy this part. This family reacted so exuberantly to each one it was delight to share in. The presents were also a bit more lavish than the kind I'm used to seeing passed around. Amongst all this I got three presents myself. I knew my boss had some more for me. (She'd already given me a ticketmaster gift card a few weeks earlier so I could book in to see a show.) But I also got presents from her parents and her husband's mum. So very thoughtful and kind. Eventually this was followed by tea. Meals have been much later than I usually have them. Tea doesn't usually start until 8pm and that's actually predinner drinks. So by the time we have entree, main, dessert and after dinner coffee there's not much evening left. But they are all good company and it's been very pleasant and entertaining to be amongst them.

Boxing Day mid morning I joined them for a trudge across the muddy fields to where they'd set up to do some clay pigeon shooting. That was interesting to see live. I stood with everyone else for most of it watching the shooters hit and miss.

I then helped collect some of the clay pigeons that had been missed and survived the landing and scooted up the hillside and jumped the haybales as they did a launcher swap. I actually had a bit more fun watching one brother load the launcher and fire it, especially when his brother was shooting. He he. Rivalry. It was fun to see the clay pigeons shatter in mid air after the bang. Most were quite good shots. It felt like quite an english experience too.

The rest of the time was mostly filled with chatting, eating, drinking and occasionally playing with the boy and his new toys. All very relaxing and I've been very well looked after and welcomed here. A very pleasant english country Christmas.

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