What are your favourite memories of Christmas as a child?
Well, my family didn’t have a lot growing up so our Christmases were always quite frugal, but I didn’t really feel as though I was missing anything too much.
My absolute favourite memory is of the year my Mum made me a whole shoe box full of dolls clothes for my Sindy Doll. I can still remember sitting on my parents’ bed and opening it & finding all the clothes, some knitted, some sewn. All just beautiful and packaged in tissue paper. I remember Mum had a broken brooch and she had attached this to one of the dresses. I remember feeling sooo very happy and content that Christmas. I always loved dolls and that feeling has never ever left me.
Did you have any Christmas traditions in your family when you were growing up?
Well I don’t recall any particular ones growing up. Our Christmases were very traditional, always with a hot meal at lunchtime. I have continued to cook a hot meal at midday even now and still cook a turkey and ham & traditional Christmas pudding. We shared two Christmas Days with my stepson’s Mexican girlfriend who joined us, and she cooked some Mexican food for us as well as our traditional food. There was enough there to feed a small army I recall.
Do you have any Christmas traditions now?
I have begun a couple of traditions now that I have a grandson (and another on the way). I make them a stocking for their first Christmas and then each year I fill it with gifts and love from Granny Julie.
Also, I either make or buy them a special decoration each year. My hope is that when they are older, we can go shopping together and choose the decoration, or we can make it together.
What does Christmas mean to you?
Christmas to me means getting together, sharing & spending time with family and friends and loved ones. I would like to take the whole gift-giving thing out of it, as I struggle with how commercialised it has all become. Unfortunately not everyone is in agreement with this, so we still do gifts, but have cut it back quite a bit as we have a large blended family.
Where will you spend Christmas this year? Who will you spend it with?
This year most of the family are coming to us for Christmas lunch and my Mum is coming to stay. She comes every second year to us. My eldest son is a shift worker and doesn’t always get Christmas Day off. Because I have sons, I fully realise that as they have now grown up and got married, they will often go to their wives’ families for Christmas.
What’s your Christmas dinner style? Traditional, Kiwi BBQ, Something else?
We will still have the traditional lunch of turkey, ham, etc. Even though it will probably be a hot day, we still do this. We love our barbeques too, but don’t really do this for Christmas lunch. Although we often eat our meal outside on the deck and I decorate the wooden table up nicely. It is sometimes a little cooler eating out there.
Tell us about your decorating for Christmas. Do you have a tree….real or artificial? Colour-coordinated or anything goes? Do you decorate just the tree….or do you adorn everything you can?
Yes I decorate the house for christmas. I have a husband that actually loves it even more than I do. After many years (18+)of working in a Gift shop and decorating that in October or even September I got a little over it all along the way. But my husband purchased a huge artificial tree and we decorate that. We used to have a real tree but invested in an artificial one as often our real ones would tip over!! I also have a large collection of Santas that I display at Christmas and I often give my teddy bears Santa hats to wear. I like to try to make the house feel quite festive. I usually buy one new simple decoration each year. Last year I purchased some wooden angel wings and then kept them out all year long as I loved them so much.
Do you have a special Christmas recipe you could share with us?
Yes! This is something I make my friends at Christmas and if I need to take a plate then I always make these and often get asked for the recipe.
90 grams butter 2 tablespoons golden syrup
1/2 tin condensed milk 1 cup sultanas
1 teaspoon vanilla essence 1 pkt Gingernut biscuits
Melt butter in a saucepan, add golden syrup & condensed milk.
Stir in essence, crushed gingernuts and sultanas over medium heat until well combined.
Cool to room temperature. This is important before you roll them up. Roll heaped teaspoons of mixture into small balls and toss in coconut. Refrigerate until firm.
I have an old blender that I crush the gingernuts in that rattles and shakes and makes a sound rather like smashing glass. You can use a rolling pin on them but it takes quite a bit of elbow grease. I always, always remember my sister-in-law who puts them in two supermarket bags, puts them under the wheel of the car & drives back & forth a few times!! I am sure the neighbours wonder what on earth she is up to and think she has finally flipped her lid!!
To find out more about Julie and Threadbear Cottage read our previous conversation here.