No one can ever tell your story, or share your feelings, or speak your soul, just like you can.
Which is why this Christmas poemI penned 7 years ago remains my favourite of all time. Nothing to do with ego, it’s simply a window into my world, of my Aussie Christmas, and the memories that I hold so dear.
And the memories we keep adding on.
So I will reshare for you, because it’s a Christmas countdown, so why not?
Something Christmas every day I say. 😁
What (Aussie) Christmas means to me, my love
Sunny days and leafy trees
sprawled out in the yard on lounge chairs
squeals of laughter from the park children
the squeak of Mum and Dad’s backyard swing.
Prawn platters, Fruit pavlova
three courses and constant food in between
Ham is not the star – everything is
and it all goes down well with a glass (or few) of champers.
Flowy dresses and bows in tresses
the kids run barefoot on the grass
we can show some leg and we don’t care
Summer, holidays, carefree, go together.
Annoying things too, like crawling ants and invading-space flies
tightly-wound presents with ribbon, all screwed up
but this is the miniscule list I hold
for this oh-so-Merry day.
Balmy nights, revved up cars
light until past 9pm
cannot sleep, but not just for Santa
for waiting ain’t easy when it’s pushing 20 at midnight.
Eating drinking memory making
What do you talk about with those you love?
Why everything! And now let’s make some plans
about how we’ll take on the world together.
Hot sand replaces stinging ice
sunnies sit meandering instead of wrapped-around scarves
we still rug up on Christmas Eve
to our loved ones for warmth, but not heat.
Carols may sing of snow,
Santa may be in his jolly suit,
cards will show reindeer, eggnog, fireplaces
and the pine trees are not native at this time of year.
But those are idealistic visions
of a Faraway Place
a dream where one day I will be, and see, and touch
and live in reality.
My memories here are of sun, of outdoor fun,
sitting outside and making memories with loved ones
There is a house I pass on my way home from my usual grocery shop, that I’ve noticed for its decorations.
I’ve noticed it, because it stands out in a street where quite a few neighbours have gone to some kind of effort in decorating their front of house for Christmas. Matching red bows on the fence. Perfect lights hung across the roof. Festive Christmas characters on the lawn.
This house, has none of those. It has tinsel – two colours – green and red, and they’ve been strung throughout the beige picket fence.
Not in a perfect, deliberate, every 5th stump kind of way. More in a mismatched, let’s put it here, let’s put it there… maybe there, kinda way.
I noticed this house early on. And then, something about it, HIT ME.
It made me teary.
This house, this home, the people within it… I can guarantee you without knowing them personally, that these people are the embodiment of what Christmas is about.
Because the extent or magnitude of your Christmas decorations has nothing to do with how much you love it. Whether you spent $1000 in flashing lights, and 6 hours of your Sunday putting things up…
It actually means nothing. Sure, it does mean you love Christmas.
It also means you have two things. Time, and money.
The person who spent $5 on tinsel and 10 minutes on a Tuesday night to put it up, they ALSO, love Christmas.
And it tugs my heart so much, because they either don’t have the time, they don’t have the money, or maybe even both, and yet despite this, in a street full of so many perfectly placed and prettied Christmas decorations, they still put up their tinsel.
They still showcase their love for Christmas, with what little they have.
THAT is true love. That there, is what it’s all about.
I still smile at the fancy lights and decorations I come across at night, as baby girl wows in the car.
But this house right here…
It hits different. It hits in the heart. 💖
Don’t lose sight of what’s important at Christmas time. 🙏🎄
It was mid-December, and KK was the name of the game! Yes siree folks, the 2018 Christmas shin-dig with us girls had arrived and we were nice and early in December for a catch up, even managing to book the place weeks in advance! Why, I never!
The place you ask? It was Okami in Fairfield, an all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurant. The massive drawcard for this place on Station Street, was not just it’s visible location, but the fact that it was $32.80 for everything…
Like, ALL YOU CAN EAT.
Why do we get so excited when we hear those four words, why? I mean, there is only so much we CAN eat, and yet the thought of unlimited food, without limitations…
As a species, we are awfully simple, and awfully stupid.
So let’s see how many courses we got through, shall we?
We were there for the 7:30 session. We started off getting some drinks of which was the classic Umeshu, Japanese Plum Wine.
With an actual plum inside! We all dabbled in this, and it was that kind of sickly sweet type of alcohol that still went to our heads.
Here are the dishes we went for, and shared between us all:
Edamame Beans… I learnt how to eat them that night.. you take the long bean between your teeth, pull the little beans out and suck.
We also had prawn and vegetable gyozas… mmm so good.
Vegetable spring rolls.
There was also the octopus balls… oh God no. They are the round balls in the spring rolls photo, and let me tell you I had NONE of those. I can’t even look at them without – ugh.
Those were our starters.
For mains, we got the chicken katsu, along with the sides of fried rice and steamed rice (latter dishes not pictured).
My friend also got the sushi and sashimi platter… here is a photo for the sake of looking at food.
My personal faves? The gyozas, and the chicken katsu. So yummy and crunchy.
It was a great night, what with KKs happening, festive paper flying over the table as we unwrapped presents, and lots of girly squeals and laughter.
What the hell. We would do dessert too.
There wasn’t a whole lot on the menu for the sweet stuff, just ice cream flavours… and I didn’t want the green tea or black sesame variety, so I went for plain old vanilla.
Just like my adjectives there, it was fairly plain and old, nothing really amazing to be honest. I ate it but it was clear that although they knew how to do their Japanese dishes… the desserts didn’t have any wow factor.
We all paid the bill, not split though (see note below) and headed on out to fill up Station Street with much more festive love and laughter.
Food: 7.5/10. Most of the dishes were yum, but the ice cream was meh.
Ambience: Noisy, busy! It was a Saturday night in December, so close to Christmas… can you imagine? Lost of groups getting together for pre-Christmas shin-digs, friends, families… the lot.
People: Like I said, the lot. Older people, younger people, and everyone in between.
Staff: Really friendly. Our waiter was lovely and tended to all our very pressing questions about like, how many pieces of gyoza do you get in a serve? What exactly is in an octopus ball? And do you split the bill? (See below!)
Price: So as I already mentioned, $32.80, all you can eat! Not including drinks, my plum wine was $9 for a 900ml glass. These are likely to have changed since our outing there, so check their website, or call, to avoid disappointment at the counter.
Advice: So, going by my many clues to split bills… there are no split bills! Half of us took a walk before dessert time to find an ATM on Station Street so we could all pay together… so really, if you are going in a group and there isn’t one person shouting, make sure you have $$$ on you.
Also, book ahead, especially for busy times and days. Our session was booked a whole month in advance… be prepared!
In a nutshell: I quite liked the vibe and atmosphere of this Japanese restaurant. I enjoy the premise of little meals where you can have a bit of this, and a bit of that… you get to try everything, and with company. I would go for more katsu (tummy rumbling just thinking about it) and gyoza, mmm, love me some gyoza!
So, I guess the only main thing to note is that when you go, like their name loosely translates… be hungry like a wolf.
I had to question myself the other day, only days before the big festive day.
“Why was I so behind in Christmas preparations when we had been in iso over half the year?”
Why wasn’t I prepared?
Why didn’t I get to it earlier?
What was I doing ALL THAT TIME?
It’s enough to make you feel down and unaccomplished, especially in comparison to those that share their Christmas achievements, way from, I don’t know, OCTOBER.
But it’s been a tough year. A tough year for many. A tough year for ALL.
Like something I read on social media… we have all been in different boats. Some of us went through the pandemic in a fully-manned yacht… others were swept up in the storm from within the rickety confines of their dinghy.
Everyone has had such a different journey, so it’s important not to compare their covid boat ride, with yours.
Just like all of life, really.
We are all on a different life journey. Things will happen at different times for ALL of us.
We will be sad when others are happy, and vice versa.
We will be well when others are sick.
And vice versa.
Personally, I had both good and bad. Good in that I was fortunate enough to get a job just as the lockdown began.
Bad in that I experienced a bevy of health problems that manifested physically, and then caused me a great deal of mental stress.
When you throw in the worries, routines, and schedules of all those around you – children, partners, parents, family, friends…
No wonder we have barely held on.
I am here to tell you.. if you’ve managed to get to Christmas by the skin of your teeth… it’s ok.
This is your journey, remember. Be easy on yourself.
Look after yourself this holiday season. Be kind to others, but most importantly yourself.
You are here. You have survived. That is more than enough.
So either you love Christmas carols, or you HATE them.
People get so passionate when it comes to the festive tunes. You’re either hitting the high notes with Mariah and wailing “All I want for Christmas, is YOOOOUUUUUU!” or throwing a stocking at the stereo when the song comes on the radio for the 3rd time that day… and there are still weeks before Santa arrives.
The first step is honesty here: you are not going to love every single song in the world, so why do you expect the same from Christmas carols? I love Christmas songs and yet there are many I hit skip on my compilation Christmas albums.
The trick is, knowing which songs to go for. There are daggy and possibly I’ll even say it, bad Christmas songs, just as there are amazing and happy and moving and bouncing Christmas songs.
And this is where I present my list to you – the definitive, MASSIVE and all-encompassing Christmas song playlist that will keep everyone from your 6 year-old child to your 80 year-old granny happy and joyful joyful come December 25th.
Here it goes…
First off the bat, let’s get the festive playlist started with –
“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” – Andy Williams.
Oh God, I hear this in shopping centres and I just want to hug someone, really I do. It’s a classic and uplifting tune, and gets you right in that Christmas frame of mind.
The best line?:
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you be of good cheer…”
Ha! Nothing like someone telling you to be happy that gets you pissed right off! If that doesn’t cheer you yet, let’s move on to some…
Oh, yes. ♥ No good Christmas song list would dare to omit a Buble Christmas tune!
He is a Christmas legend! He does Christmas specials!
I have a couple to note from him but let’s start with
“It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”
It’s a magical song with hints of whimsical Hollywood, and who can forget lines like –
“And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again.”
Next is Buble’s version of “Santa Baby.”
I preface this by saying that I’ve never really liked the Santa Baby song… anyone’s version. I’ve always found it weird that someone will be singing to Santa in what sounds like such a suggestive and sexual way…
Guys, he is like your grandad. That is just gross. 😖
But Buble, a bloke, does his own manly take on it. It has a touch of swing and cheek, and with plenty of hilarious lines like –
“Santa pally, I want a yacht and really that’s not, a lot
I’ve been a sweetie all year…”
It’s definitely worth a listen.
The last one I’ll mention FOR NOW (yes more Buble is coming so if you’re a fan you’re in for a real treat) is his own Christmas song, “Cold December Night.”
It’s got the traditional bells jangling but still has a real contemporary feel to it, while still retaining that Christmas ‘I want you home’ vibe that so many songs encapsulate.
“Stockings are hung with care
The children sleep with one eye open
Now there’s more than toys at stake
‘Cause I’m older now, but not done hoping.”
We’re going to move on now, to another Christmas legend.
Yep. You know it.
How the hell am I meant to write a Christmas song list without mentioning the most commercially successfully penned Christmas song of the last few generations?
It’s, M-A-R-I-A-H. 🤩
Don’t leave! Stay with me please you’ll be glad you did.
I’m going to start with a song you wouldn’t have guessed I would…
“Oh Holy Night.”
This song is something else. Her rendition is classic Mariah, and if you don’t get goosebumps while listening to her high note in the first half, well there is something wrong with you.
From her album, go to 1:39.
Another version. Go to 2:00.
And if you’re still not sure listen to this live piece at 1:41… and then the end of the song.
“Oh night… DIVVVVIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNEEEEEEE.”
Excuse me while I wipe away my tears. 😭
Okay I’ve gathered myself now.
There you go. LIVE my friends. And so much later after it’s first release and listen to that voice!
So clean, so fresh. Wham bam thank you maam. She proves there why she is worth $320 million as of this writing.
Now, I move to the predictable piece.
Bear with me.
“All I Want for Christmas is You.”
You gotta admit, it is a catchy tune. And an awfully clever one. Did you know it took all of 15 minutes for Mariah and her co-songwriter to pen for her 1994 holiday album Merry Christmas? And it continues to amass huge royalties for her all over the world.
It is the 12th biggest selling single ever, of all time as of 2019 (read that, EVER) and because of the layering of multiple music influences within the song, is considered in part by many music critics as the reason for its international success.
Sure it’s overplayed… but personally I love it.
“I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is you.”
I mean the film clip is cute but also a bit cringe-worthy what with Santa (her ex Tommy Mottola) picking her up in the snow… ugh I just can’t. That whole “Santa Baby” thing rears its head and makes me uncomfy all over again.
Because of the upbeat tempo, sounds of bells ringing and Mariah hugging the dog and throwing snow in the air, it’s easy to miss the serious meaning of the song. But if you break it down and look at it on paper, you will see it actually is very simple, yet has a lot of depth.
Or… you can just hear it in a different version.
Insert Buble, again 🙂
Michael Buble does an amazing version of this song. It is soooo different – no high piercing notes, no fast beats. In his version all the words sound different yet are exactly the same, and subsequently come forth with more meaning. I for one LOVE the start of his:
“I don’t want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
I don’t care about those presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
You know that all I want for Christmas is you.”
How serious, how solemn… how sweet. There is more of a sombre tone to this one, and though I love Mariah’s classic and catchy version, I have a really soft spot for this one too.
I bet you might just be thinking of Mariah a bit differently now.
Okay, you can breathe easy, the Mariah mentions are over…
It wouldn’t be a Christmas list without a ‘Christmas special’ mention, and this one is a festive musical combination that will KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF…
Brace yourself – Buble and Mariah together.
Singing “ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU.”
OKAY I LIED! Last one I promise.
Okay now we are truly done.
I’m going to try make the parentals and grandparents happy with this next lot.
We need to go back a long way so that they can rediscover the yester-years and be all teary-eyed in memory, right? Who else can do it better than Bing Crosby (coincidentally the 1st – FIRST! – biggest selling single of all time).
It has that classic old-world feel like all good black and white movies do, and the throwback to the good ol’ days is captured in the line –
“I’m dreaming of a White Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know.”
A couple more golden oldies:
Frank’s “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”
And Elvis’ voice was made for “Blue Christmas.” This live version with Martina McBride is fabulous, and just watch the over-excitable girls in the audience about to wet themselves.
BA HA HA. Great film clip.
A couple of slow crooning ones sure, so now we’ll inject some much-needed contemporary pop to the playlist.
We all know her as the blonde-cropped, eye-covering contemporary power-belting Aussie superstar voice that has taken over Hollywood with her distinctive voice and song-writing prowess.
I can only be talking about Sia.
I didn’t know what to expect when her Christmas album came out years ago, but being fans Hubbie and I quickly snapped it up.
Everyday is Christmas features all original songs co-written by the Adelaide native. It’s huge to consider since most Christmas albums are predominantly retakes of old classics… Mariah Carey has 3 original tracks… Buble has 1…
Sia has 10 novel tracks.
They are true to Sia style and contemporary, some almost to the point that they may not traditionally sound like Christmas songs at all. She does the upbeat songs as well as the slow and melancholic ones, and two songs that show this spectrum perfectly are the slow and oddly romantic-sounding “Snowman”…
And the sing-a-long favourite “Ho Ho Ho.”
Even baby girl loves this one, so a big tick in the contemporary and also child-friendly department.
I also must mention the very sweet song “Puppies are Forever”…
“Puppies are forever, not just for Christmas
‘Cause they’re so cute and fluffy with shiny coats
But will you love ’em when they’re old and slow?”
Awww. What a sweet yet really serious message. Sia is a dog fan so no real surprise in that song. She has done brilliantly in creating a very different Christmas album, with her her intention for the album reportingly being that she felt there weren’t many Christmas songs around that she liked to listen to… so she made them up, of course.
Definitely a worthy Christmas album to have in your jolly itinerary.
While we’re on the subject of those making up their own songs, let’s go back in time to my teen years and re-introduce Hanson.
What? Don’t they sing Mmm Bop? Yes well that and a bazillion other tunes being prolific song writers still to this day. They have two Christmas albums (WOAH!) but it’s their first release from back in the day that many 30-somethings (emphasis, ‘somethings’) will remember to this day.
Their musical influences come from the 50s and 60s and incorporate that classic soulful and rock and roll feel, so it is no surprise that their album Snowed In shows this in spades. (Ha, my first pun!)
They have three original songs here, and two I need to make mention of – the slow “Christmas Time”
“Everybody needs a little loving, around Christmas time
Somehow you got to know you’re going to be alright…”
And the rock and roll and boppy “Everybody knows the Claus”
But they also do great renditions, and “Merry Christmas Baby” is just one of those throwbacks that pays homage to the original in a new way, really well.
While we’re in my teen genre, we need to make mention of some groups and artists that have done really daggy and soppy brilliant Christmas songs.
We’ll start with one of my teen fave’s, and sing along to Nsync’s “I Don’t Wanna Spend One More Christmas Without You”…
“This is the time of year, when we learn to give
And the greatest gift, is learning to forgive…”
Sage words, especially from a guy with frosted tips.👱♂️
You can’t kill me, I’m a fan whose seen him at every Aussie concert! But this is such a 90s crooner… oh man.
Next up on the sickening boyband Christmas list is Backstreet Boys:
With “Christmas time.” Did you hear that lengthy “ooohhhh” at the start of the song from Brian?
Yep. Classic Christmas material.
(Am I meant to be laughing at these songs or convincing you that they’re awesome?)
Last on the so-bad-it’s-actually-good-or-is-it series of past teen songs is Britney’s “My Only Wish (This Year)”
Oh God did you hear the opening “oh yeah yeah?” Must be a 90s thing!
“‘Cause I have been so good, so good this year
Can’t be alone, under the mistletoe
He’s all I want and a big red bow.”
Wait, what? What has the bow? 💝
Moving on now… to GREATNESS.
The saddest yet perhaps one of the best Christmas songs of all time, the one that you just love to belt it out to, well…
“Last Christmas.” Another novel song idea, God this is so good. George is literally singing about being stood up, but he does it in the best 80s way, the way Wham! knew how to do so well… and the song continues to transcend genres and decades to this day and be awesome.
“Once bitten and twice shy
I keep my distance, but you still catch my eye
Tell me baby, do you recognise me?
Well it’s been a year, it doesn’t surprise me
(whispers) Merry Christmas…”
What an amazing song. Extra special points go out to this one because our beloved George passed away on Christmas day. Therefore he is forever immortalised in Christmas, for so many reasons.
Since we’re on the sad theme let’s also go serious for a moment with another powerful 80s festive tune – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
Here’s a fun fact for you… Do you know Bono from U2 did not want to sing the infamous line –
“Well tonight thank God it’s them, instead of you!” –
referring to the poor and starving people dying in Ethiopia. But the brainchild behind the multi-artist collaboration to raise money for the famine, Bob Geldof, told Bono that he had to sing it, as it would mean so much more coming from him.
The rest is history, and the group of fifteen or so artists and groups came together and continue to make history, with proceeds of the song apparently still continuing to help people and charities in need all over the world.
Ain’t that a good idea. Buy the single and help someone starving. Merry Christmas to both of you.
And our final sombre look at Christmas comes from another kind of UK legend… John Lennon.
“Happy Xmas (War is Over)” also often referred to as So this is Christmas, interestingly maintains a real festive feel what with the bells ringing and choir kicking in at the chorus, and of course then there is the whole “Have a very Merry Christmas” message throughout. But John injects his own brand of world self-awareness with –
“And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong…”
The final lines tell us the real point behind his message “War is over, if you want it.” John was trying to save the world, with one Christmas song at a time. If you like to ponder the meaning of life and Christmas festivities then this is the song for you.
A bit of 70s you fancy perhaps? Listen to the music in the Jackson 5 version of “The Little Drummer Boy.”
All those beating drums! Well you’d expect nothing less in a song about… drums. Young Michael’s voice is so high and youthful, and this rendition is still a classic what with the increasing urgency of tone as the song moves towards the end.
And, we are nearing the end!Almost there. I told you this was a comprehensive list.
I’ve covered the old-school teens (those now, ahem, ’30-somethings’) but now I’m going to move to some artists that today’s youth will appreciate.
Chuck a couple of these on your spotify and watch their ears perk up.
Justin Bieber’s “Mistletoe.”
“With you, shawty with you…” Oh God I have to laugh. Not shorty, but shawty.
But the best line?
“The wise men followed the star
The way I followed my heart…”
Let’s move on now to some Arianna, and having heard this a few times it’s actually okay…
“Santa Tell Me” captures the Christmas teen vibe perfectly, what with oversized sweaters and a sleepover with girlfriends in her bed and the Christmas bells ringing in the background to the pop beat… perfect.
A recent addition to the contemporary genre is Taylor Swift’s “Christmas Tree Farm.” It starts off with a massive touch of classic Hollywood and blends into a festive Christmas melody to flashbacks of Taylor as a baby growing up at Christmas time… on a Christmas Tree Farm. So nostalgia is therefore definitely present. (Ha, second daggy pun!)
I’m going to keep going downwards in age and give you something to make the little tikes happy, yes? Why Christmas is mostly about them, what with Santa and presents and reindeer and being on the good list… so remember to include them when planning your music list.
I’m going to give you two classic Aussie bands that have given us two catchy and can’t-stop-singing-them songs.
(ALERT! CATCHY TUNE ALERT! CATCHY TUNE ALERT!)
The awfully catchy (I mean really catchy) “Santa Claus is coming” by popular kid’s group High-5.
Listen to this once with your child, and well… you’ll hear it a billion more times. Both on your stereo and then IN YOUR HEAD FOREVER. You’ve been warned.
(But you also want to keep them happy, so… )
“Santa Claus is coming, Santa Claus is coming
Santa Claus is coming, Santa Claus is coming…
SANTA CLAUS IS COMING! SANTA CLAUS IS COMING!”
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The next one is from the most iconic Australian kids group of all time, who have even gained huge international acclaim and fans.
It’s The Wiggles! (baby girl’s fave!) with “Go Santa Go!”
There is a skit at the beginning of this clip if you need context, you know, to work out who these Wiggly people are… but go to 2:33 if you just want the song. The Wiggles actually have a load of Christmas songs, novel ones too, but this is a terrific one as it’s repetitive, easy for the kids to sing and dance along to as well with those Danny Zuko Greased Lightning type moves…
I’m going to throw a spanner in the works for the next one and add a Christmas parody…
Aren’t all Christmas songs parodies I hear you ask? Calm down I’m joking. If you’ve read this far clearly you are a closet Christmas lover.
I heard this at baby girl’s school Christmas concert, and well, staying in theme with Aussie kids groups, this is an Aussie kids song all about our type of Christmas:
How funny! “Aussie Jingle Bells” is so hilariously outback, that you can’t not smile at lines like –
“Jingle Bells Jingle Bells
Christmas time is beaut
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a rusty Holden Ute.”
OH! Ha ha. The vision that accompanies the song in the film clip, though overdone is actually also spot on for an Aussie Christmas, which I love.
We’re going to stay with the Aussie theme as we head into the final stretch. Why wouldn’t I mention some amazing performers that we have, who make Christmas that much more amazing with their own special versions of classic Christmas songs…
Like two incredible and iconic performers, singing together, Olivia Newton John and John Farnham.
“Baby, it’s Cold Outside.”
Why it took so long for these two to pair up I don’t know, but this song with all the to-ing and fro-ing beautifully represents their voices and the playfulness of this festive tune.
“I wish I knew how (your eyes are like starlight now)
To break this spell (I’ll take your hat, your hair looks swell)…”
I think it’s a charming and cheeky song that honestly, people got all riled up over nothing a while ago.
It’s Christmas people!
Every year I watch the TV carols on Christmas Eve, and the one star who has come into his own performing there time after time is the former Australian Idol winner and great Anthony Callea.
A reality TV winner? On this list?
WAIT. You have not heard him. Included here is the international “Ave Maria,” but if you’re from my generation (so old now) you may remember him tearing down the roof with this rendition of “The Prayer” on Aus Idol, which led to him subsequently winning that season.
He’s gone on to sing that song at carols over the years and he is just AH-MAY-ZING. Search for that song if you like song and then listen to this Christmas melody below. You’ll see why he’s become a staples at the carols and a star in his own right.
Staying on the carols bandwagon, and maybe I am being awfully self-indulgent by naming performers that I feel a soft spot for, but Marina Prior has been a serious carols regular for as long as I can remember, from my childhood. The opera singer has a voice of an angel, and well, you get why she gets to sing “Silent Night” here:
This is one of my favourite traditional Christmas songs. Yes, it’s slow, but as I’ve displayed in this list, just as there is an artist for each age group, so is there a time of day when you should play certain songs. And this one winds up the festive day perfectly.
And also, this list. Because I present to you the final song, and we come full circle by coming back to…
The song I’m ending on is the target of a lot of jokes and misspellings out there, such as –
FOR LEASE NAVIDAD
FLEECE NAVIDAD, and
THE LEASE NOBBY DOT? 🤔
It’s obviously “Feliz Navidad” which roughly translated means Merry Christmas in Spanish for any people who still don’t know it.
Buble does the most beautiful duet with Thalia in this Christmas special below, and when he sings in Spanish it comes across effortlessly… his Spanish wife would be proud. 🙂
And with that, I end this MASSIVE (I told you) Christmas song list. I haven’t even started to scratch the surface of all the great Christmas songs out there, but this is a great starter and will keep you and your family and friends jolly and merry on Christmas Day.
And to that I say –
“I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
I want to wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom, of my heart.”
Christmas has always been one of my most favourite times of the year. There are carols, festive movies, everything is red, green, gold and sparkly, and let’s face it, by December Melbourne weather is starting to show us some decent warmth.
Holidays are near, and LOVE IS ALL AROUND.
I know and I feel that to be true. But I’ve been thinking a lot about another group of people.
It’s the time of year where people start talking about a fresh start, a new beginning. More so now because we’re not just entering a new year next year, but we’re entering a new DECADE.
People don’t just get together and celebrate Christmas work parties and KK catch ups with friends… celebrations occur. The end of the year brings good news in work and school results, people use the timing of festive happiness to celebrate and bring forth happy news from other areas in their life…
All in all, this December I am seeing a lot of good news stories.
And I LOVE it.
But there are not all who love it.
And by that I mean that they are not loving anything, nothing at all.
I feel particularly this year for the people who are struggling.
There are people in hospital who don’t know how they are going to get through the month, relying on machines to help them live… let alone wasting time thinking of what New Year goals they are going to break in the second week of January.
There are people who are missing loved ones that have departed. This Christmas may be the first for them without someone they love, and seeing Christmas cards in stores and Hallmark moments being broadcast all around as the ideal Christmas with the perfect family, would make this such a hard time.
Then there are those that are estranged from family, and that all too common question “Where do you celebrate Christmas?” makes it almost a disappointment to speak that they aren’t spending it with family. Having people nosy into your personal business, isn’t the merriest of feelings.
The approaching new year also makes you reflect, and often people don’t like what they discover. Looking back at the year that has passed can make one feel like a disappointment if they feel they haven’t achieved what they set out to… the absence of a goal or achievement can be hard to swallow, and a bitter reminder that a year has been lost. Looking forward to a new year then can be overwhelming, and a fresh start mentality is difficult to focus on and is far from their mind.
This year, I am really feeling for all those who are struggling.
I am not a professional, and I don’t know what to do in every difficult situation… but as a person who has gone through hard times, I can offer some personal advice…
Take every moment at a time. Don’t look too much into the future and worry about what’s to come. Just focus on doing the best you can at this point in time with what you have.
Focus simply, on gratitude. Focus on the little things, and on what you DO have. Think about the roof over your head, the comfortable bed that you sleep in, and that person who calls you because they love you. These are the things worth thinking about. These are the things that matter.
Stay off social media. Reading other people’s ‘highlight’ reels is not going to help. A word of caution: if you find yourself comparing your life against someone else’s, remember that what someone posts is just one moment in time, and it provides absolutely no backstory or context of actual reality. Most of the time these repetitive highlight reels come from serial posters, who require self-gratification in the form of constant likes and comments… that is, they are suffering for some reason and need their ego inadvertently stroked to make themselves feel better… They need the attention constantly on them or else they risk suffering a meltdown.
Feel proud that you have beautiful things that you could share, but you don’t. It’s called self-command and privacy.
And as much as I do love this festive season… this too shall pass. It all does. Just hold on. Hold on knowing that like one of my favourite quotes:
“Good times and bad times have one thing in common, they never last forever.”
Don’t be disheartened by this quote. Feel humbled you are able to grace this earth.
I hope you have a great festive season, and just remember… moment by moment.
It’s the day after Christmas, where a good majority of people spend the aftermath of the festive day either shopping it up and trying to get the best bargain, or drinking VBs and turning lobster-red at the cricket with their best-est mates.
So why do Australians call December 26, Boxing Day?
It occurred to me that I did not know, when I discovered just last week that the next Frozen movie was not arriving in our cinemas in late November like the rest of the world. No… we had to wait until Boxing Day.
As I said the words out loud to baby girl, I realised she would be baffled.
“What is boxing day?
Honey I have no clue. But I am going to try find out for you.
Oh, and that is another thing we Aussies tend to get the day after Christmas… the box-office blockbusters.
The term originated in the UK and therefore the story of it lays there, so it comes to reason that several countries part of the British Empire (i.e. Australia) would therefore celebrate the 26th of December.
One popular theory hails from the 1800s, and the Oxford English Dictionary explains it as: “the first weekday after Christmas day, observed as a holiday on which postmen, errand boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas box”.
It was a day in which the rich gave to the poor, whether it was to those less fortunate, or their own servants. Also servants were deemed to have the day off after Christmas, and went back home to their families with ‘boxed presents.’
While the exact origin is unknown, the European tradition of giving to those in need dates back to the Middle Ages. And it is one that certainly should not be forgotten. At a time of year when consumerism and spending is rife, we should definitely not forget this time-honoured tradition and try to give what lot, or little we can, to someone in need.
Whatever the reason be, perhaps the most exciting thing for us Aussies is that it’s a public holiday. Spend the day as you will, shopping it up, watching a movie, or going to the cricket. Or something else… how do you spend your Boxing Day?
I can almost guarantee we will be getting Frozen this year… shiver.
Is there a phrase or quote you want me to investigate?
I don’t even remember why we ventured over to the Dava Hotel that Tuesday in early December. I think Hubbie had heard of the place, and we were also keen to try something different, yet still close.
It was practically a 3 minute drive there. So the close box, was ticked. √
After waiting some time at the front counter to be seated, we were taken to a table to the side of the middle in the large room. It was LARGE. Open plan, working within the hotel image, where people staying overnight in the rooms within could venture on down and take food from the buffet cases, or people like us could walk in and dine from individual menus.
The expansiveness of the room, meant it wasn’t awfully cosy. But this was a hotel. We were coming to expect different.
And just like a Hotel, we had to order and pay at two individual counters for drinks and food. Again, not ideal for us, but it happens at the Royal and we love that place. So Hubbie disappeared for sometime at the bar, doing his bit, and then I went over to the counter next to the buffet set-up to order our food.
While we waited for our drinks, I told him how the service I had received at the counter had been colder than the iceberg that hit the Titanic. The waitress was just not in the mood AT ALL, didn’t wanna be there, and hiding her palpable animosity towards, well LIFE in general, was very trying for her. I had sped off hastily.
Some alcohol helped me forget. I got the Wynns “The Gables” Cab Sav, while Hubbie had ordered himself a beer.
The reason why I wasn’t kicking up a stink in regards to the service, was another huge determining factor of our possible night’s success. It was baby girl. And where she was. There was an enclosed play area just outside the eating area, and although it was around the corner, there was something else that made it easier to spy on your kids, even though you couldn’t see the entrance/exit.
They had a TV on one wall showing the play area, and suddenly we realised why many families had sat within view of that TV – to enjoy their meal and yet still watch out for their little one outside.
We were slightly out of view of this TV, so we took turns in each getting up and going out to check on her – she was cool, as excited as a kid at Christmas (well it was coming up), and honestly wasn’t fazed that she hadn’t yet had her dinner.
But in between, we had moments of, what’s that word again… peace? Silence? Um, couple-time?
WHAT ABOUT ALL OF THE ABOVE?!
Hence why I forgot about the Iceberg-waitress fairly quickly.
Our food came relatively fast considering there were so many people there, and we had to herd our girl in for it too.
Hubbie had the 300 gm Grass Fed Porterhouse: served with chips and garden salad, and tomato sauce
I had the Linguini Marinara: garlic and olive oil base with mussels, prawns, scallops and calamari.
And baby girl had the Spaghetti Bolognaise
Hers was a free kids meal because kids eat free on weekdays. It was an effort to get her to eat it only because that was the start of her “no sauce, no lumps” in pasta phase. So we moved things around and wrestled as much sauce free pasta out of the plate as we could, until we were somewhat satisfied with her efforts. Having said that, although it was free, a bolognaise from the jar was a fairly unimpressive kids meal, and I don’t care if it’s free – they are people too! And chefs, don’t you dare tell me that that sauce came from anywhere else!
Having said that, I could see other kids meals floating around, like fish and chips, and they looked much more appealing. Note to self. Order things for kids that is unlikely to come from a jar/packet.
Hubbie really liked his meal, and even likened the steak to Kirks style, even the price, saying there was not much difference. No way! The same? That was impressive, that a hotel could do a steak to the same standard as a restaurant like Kirks. He was impressed. Geez.
Having said that, I was pleased with my meal too. It was a substantial dish, I enjoyed the mild flavour of the garlic and olive oil, and half of the seafood I did enjoy, such as the fish pieces, prawns and mussels, however the scallops were undercooked for my liking, and likewise the calamari was not a fave. Seafood dishes are really hard to get right I find, and when I do find a dish that gets every single component right and seafood cooked perfectly, I’ll let you know. Those not-to-taste bits were easy to pick out, and otherwise, it was yum.
We had been pleasantly surprised with our meals, baby girl was having a rad ol’ time running between our table and the outside playground, and we could actually relax… so we decided what the hell, let’s do dessert and coffees too.
I got a cap, Hubbie a latte, and baby girl a babycino
(Hubbie’s ‘strong’ latte)
And then the dessert: baby girl got ice cream with choc topping and sprinkles; I got the Toblerone mousse cake; and Hubbie got an opera slice
Baby girl was rapt with her dessert. Ice cream, sprinkles, chocolate? That makes perfect sense. She ate it ALL. However that’s where the satisfaction stopped. Hubbie’s opera slice was average, whereas my slice of cake was just, ok. I was left feeling overly full, but not in that delightful way where you’ve had the most amazing meal. It was the regretful “I should have stopped at main” feeling. Both our cakes had that bulk manufactured taste, and really, I think the safest way to go for dessert was baby girl’s route – the ice cream.
The night was a really mixed bag. There were pros, there were cons… but as we tried to wrangle our girl from the playground and into the car, to protests of tears and “I don’t want to go!” we realised we may have just found ourselves an imperfect paradise for some ‘us ‘ time.
Food: 6.5/10. This was a hard one to rate, due to the difference in meal quality between courses. I have to take in Hubbie’s ‘like Kirks’ steak, just as I need to take in baby girl’s ‘sauce from a jar’ bolognaise.
Coffee: 7/10. It was good.
Ambience: Noisy and busy – just how we like! It allowed us to relax (relax in noise?) as we weren’t concerned about any of baby girl’s sporadic outbursts out of random necessity. Lots of people about, all getting ready for the festive season. And this was a Tuesday night.
People: Families on holiday, pensioners, ladies meeting for a tipple or two. Grown families, young families, really, ALL sorts. The typical Aussie prevailed. You define that as you will.
Staff: Apart from that one cold-from-the-depths-of-her-ravaged-soul waitress, we did in fact have luck with others. The girl who sat us down, the woman who cleared our plates for us, and also the girl who took our dessert order, were ALL very pleasant and friendly, so majority won.
Price: just over $100 for the lot – including drinks, main meals and dessert. Baby girl’s meal was free, so that meant our $64 food order averaged about $32 a piece… decent considering it is a hotel. So those individual prices were a bit high for hotel-quality food, yet overall we did well in the $ department.
Advice: If you come with children – sit as close as possible to the TV as you can. You won’t regret it. If you have really small littlies, there is a smallish room around the corner from the bar, that is the entrance to the playground – you can sit in there and eat, as well as watch your kids go on baby-type play equipment, and you are right there. But so is every other baby in the restaurant, so you choose.
Pick foods that can’t be screwed up for kids. Main adult meals should be ok. Dessert – just go for the ice cream, you’ll be happy you did.
In a nutshell: Having the outdoor playground with monitored TV inside is an excellent concept. So simple, so clever. It is simple food, and when you order what they do well, you walk away with a bargain.
If you want a no-fuss, child-friendly place where you can relax while your kids burn off some steam… then you have found it. And because of the ability to have some child-free moments, you walk away feeling like you’ve actually been on holiday… at a hotel.
I had been to this Northcote café a few times before, each time there meeting a certain group of chicks for a much-needed catch-up.
It had been years since the last visit. But not much had changed.
It was our annual KK catch-up that had me heading on over after a long day out with Hubbie and baby girl, and the company was the same, my old high school friends.
The original, and the BEST.
It was a hot night, and being free of child for the occasion, I was first to arrive. Sure, things had been revamped and done up a bit. I was seated on a medium-sized table alongside the bar in the middle of the café interior. There weren’t many people about, so I sat and watched waitresses meander around, assisting those who needed food and drink, all the while waiting for the Friday night influx on this November day.
Yep, we were killing the KK catch-up, hitting it up mid-November. The shin-dig thing-a-ma-jig was early, but we had to, you know, find time amidst our very busy lives and all.
It’s a modern café, with a couple of large TVs on either side of the walls for all to watch. Nothing inspiring, but still on trend. I checked out the local news, while I ordered myself a drink during the wait for my gal-pals…
Summer Squeeze – watermelon, orange and pineapple
This was refreshing, and had me feeling the soon-to-be Summer vibe.
It wasn’t long until I was joined by one friend, and then another, and another, and then another, and then we were right and ready, in amongst chatting and laughing and hilarious youtube videos, to finally order.
We opened our KK pressies and had a grand old time doing so, and then soon after, our meals arrived.
I got the Stuffed Chicken Breast – Whole chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto, bocconcini, sun-dried tomato, served with mashed potato, broccolini, topped with a honey and creamy seeded mustard sauce
My meal was adequate, perhaps to be expected from a café of that type. Appealing to the masses, huge variety of choice on the menu, but perhaps more a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none type café. My chicken was huge, and as one friend observed about the chicken meals on the table “these chickens are on steroids.” Enough said.
I didn’t notice anything other than tomato stuffed in the chicken – the prosciutto was on the top, and the cheese was possibly in there as well. It was sitting atop mounds of mashed potato, and though I love my carbs, the ‘steroid chicken’ comment had me feeling slightly off, plus it tasted a bit tough. I ate a decent amount of it, but just couldn’t eat it all, making sure I had at least eaten the broccolini. Get those greens in. Thank God for them, or else it all would have looked too beige. I would have rather a smaller, succulent chicken, than one taking pills to be on Gladiator. Also, it was swimming in the mustard sauce, and suddenly everything, not just the chicken, felt overdone.
Big meals were all around the table, and they seemed to be okay… but one friend observed a ‘problem’ with the table parmesan, and that’s all I will say for the sake of being respectful… but it was quickly rectified from our smiley and happy waitress.
The company and conversation far outweighed any food or drink we had that night – but still, it wasn’t as cool as what I remembered it, and nothing to make me wanna come back for in a rush either.
Food: 5/10. Nothing incredible, but it satisfied my dinner craving. The steroid chicken kind of ended it for me. The fresh juice was the best thing I had that night.
Ambience: A chilled and relaxed catch-up vibe amongst friends, as we weren’t the only ones on that Friday night catching up in a large group. Casual surrounds on the city outskirts meant it was cruisy, but things were constant, too.
People: Generally a “friends” type crowd… lots of groups, not so much families, and a eating-before-heading-out-later-on-to-party crowd too.
Staff: They were pleasant. Our waitress was the smiliest, others were doing their job. Nothing bad, but nothing overly-friendly either.
Price: Just under $40 for my meal and drink. The price of the meal served the quantity, but sadly not the quality.
Advice: This place will probably do you if you need to catch up in the area with friends, hence our night…
Also, there is parking out the back that leads directly into the rear of the café, so try that first, or else you will need to look for parking along High street at peak hour time – so let’s just say arrive early.
In a nutshell: I think this place didn’t amaze me only because I have had so much better restaurant/café meals since my early visits there so many years ago. It has a vast menu that caters to many, but that is essentially all.
It’s nothing overly bad… but nothing overly inspiring either.
Sorry Stuzzi… nothing ‘appetising’ about coming back here anytime soon.
The crazy Christmas lead-up in early December saw me say “no, I want MORE mayhem!” as I headed over to my second bloggers meet-up at The Enchanted Adventure Garden.
Only ‘crazy’ was not what I felt as we wound up higher and higher up Arthurs Seat road, watching the Eagle chairlifts hover over us temporarily as they made their casual descent/ascent…
and ‘crazy’ was not what I felt as we first passed Bowens Point
And then Franklins Lookout
and then finally, Chapmans Point
It was serene, with a small dose of beautifully scary as I viewed the perilous drop from the cliff face. No, my memories of last travelling on that stunning Arthur’s Seat Rd hill, were from about 7 or so years ago before baby girl came along, when Hubbie and I, having not even considered the words ‘Sea change’ then, were heading to our beautifully intimate Arthurs Seat hill accommodation for the night, and as I observed that it was pitch black and almost scary how there were no lights around, he turned to me devilishly and gave me his best ‘Michael-Jackson-as-possessed-zombie-in-Thriller’ face look, to which I screamed and started to cry.
So no. These views were NOT scary compared to that strong memory.
And crazy was suddenly so far from mind, so removed from my being, that the Christmas rush was only a faint memory as we parked and observed the car park and surrounds…
And I realised, we are not in Kansas anymore baby girl. But that’s what happens when you come to the Mornington Peninsula now, is it?
Us bloggers were greeted to a lovely morning tea and a brief introduction to all that the Adventure Ground is, and does.
Immaculate gardens, picnic area galore, mazes, Adrenalin-junkie fun, kids paradise, relaxing walks, and even a sweet-tooth’s dream! Why, is there anything Enchanted didn’t cover?
I was soon to find out. Off I went with baby girl with my map of the grounds, my critical eye out and ready for my review…
Statues – tick. √
Finely trimmed hedges – tick. √
Brightly coloured flowers – tick. √
Ok, so this was all well and good for the adult eye, but I needed to keep my daughter happy, and looking at trees was something she had not grown to appreciate as yet.
We followed a path and soon found ourselves in the Turf Maze, a fantastic and relaxing premise based on a practice by Monks in the Middle Ages, used as a meditative tool as they would walk around and around in repetitive circles in silence, aided only by their feet and their thoughts. I got baby girl started on one end as I started taking photos of… the trees.
I LOVED that tree. Just l♥ved. I developed some serious tree envy as I took several dozen photos of it, and baby girl skipped through a few maze lines, and then was suddenly at the exit of the maze.
Right-o. I don’t ‘quite’ see her meditating in that space, but at least it kept her somewhat busy.
I had promised her a playground (with absolutely no idea whether they had one or not – massive parenting risk), and so that is what we were looking for when we came across this sign.
It seemed the only fun active activity we could do together, in lieu of getting my 4 year old to tree surf by my side, which I was not going to do solo (again, parenting-risk doing it ALONE). Zip-lining was out too.
W observed the tree surfers in the trees up ahead of us, blending in quite nicely I might add, and immediately decided I would come back there with my adventurous, scare the living daylights out of me Thriller-seeking Hubbie.
Finding the tube slides was fairly easy, as it is actually hard to ignore five 100-metre long slides that steep down from the hill decline.
There are tube slides for littlies, from 4 and up, so baby girl could have very well gone on it by herself, since the smaller weight actually makes them travel down slower… but no. I decided to take her with me on the adult ride…
and then plummet down super fast while I thought “oh shit we’re going to flip.”
We didn’t. In fact we went up twice, and on our second trip down the tube turned backwards, so that I really was freaking then “we’re going to flip! We’re going to flip!”
WE DIDN’T. It was the best fun, but the fact of having to haul a huge tube up a steep hill, carrying a fairly heavy handbag, in heat, and while wearing inappropriately heeled shoes, well, it kind of influenced me to cap the tube slides at TWO.
Baby girl was left thoroughly captivated. And yet still, as we headed off down some other paths to explore, she had not forgotten about that damn playground I had promised.
She looked here and there
She did the usual whine and moan and unsatisfied toddler routine. Damn me. Why had I gone and said something I had no clue about?
(Baby girl going all 14 year-old hormonal on me)
I stopped to view some interesting sculpture art along my tree-lined walk.
Art and sculptures from Aboriginal, Australian and European artists collided and worked magically together in this most wondrous of gardens.
And then we got to another maze, the Blue Gum Gallery, and I followed a fast baby girl around it, as she laughed at how incompetently slow I was.
This cheered her up somewhat, and since by this stage we were close to the café from where we had started our walk, it was soon time to go, and clearly I had come across no such playground from the depths of my imagination. I shut down another protest from her with an insane idea, but it worked.
“Do you want lollies?”
And just like that, a 4 year-old’s face lit up.
We went inside, paid $5 for a cup, and filled it to the brim with all kinds of devilishly sickly sweet goodies. She ate them slowly in the car, stopping every so often to mumble “mmm, yummy…”
Parenting done right. 😉
The Enchanted Adventure Garden
55 Purves Road Arthur’s Seat
General Park Entry for Adults: $30;Child/Seniors $20
Mazes,Giant Garden Brainteasers, captivating Gardens to picnic at and view in all of their pristine natural glory;
Tube slides –of which there are 6 to choose from: 3 Big Twisters, 2 Straight Giants, and 1 Kids Only slide. Kids need to be 4 to ride on the Kids slide on their own, any smaller and they must ride with an adult.
Canopy Walk –a suspended path that brings you in amongst the trees, that runs through the park, ideal for small children, older people and people with prams.
a 3D indoor spooky maze –pop on your 3D glasses and watch things pop out at you! Ideal for teens and older kids.
Plus MANY more fun things to discover as you meander around.
Both kids and adults alike can experience the Tree Surfingon offer. The little nippers course is for kids aged 4-12, though kids aged 4 and 5 need an adult to accompany them on the course.
The tree surfing has various degrees of difficulty for both amateur and professional, mild and reckless adult thrill-seekers alike! Includes bridges, zip lines, obstacles and tree platforms, prices for both Nippers and Grand Tree Surfing courses start from$50 for Adults, and $40 for Children/Seniors, with a 2 hour limit per activity.
But if you need your adrenalin rush and lack the time, need not fear! The Tree Zip Linemay be just what you need, and those competitively charged, you can even Zip alongside a friend and see who gets to their destination first! Prices are $40 for Adults,$30 for Children/Seniors.
Active wear highly recommendedfor these ACTIVE activities, and closed-toes shoes a MUST!
I must reiterate again, despite baby girl’s temperamental attitude towards a lack of playground, there ARE kid-friendly activities and things to do, and they abound. However on that day there were several tree-top renovations happening up above, getting all geared up for the crazy holiday season, and so a couple of areas of the Gardens appeared incomplete. The above is an indicator of what is up on offer, but isn’t a complete list, as there is also a Children’s Maze, something we didn’t see on that day but I think would be perfect for a curious baby girl.
Need I say again, closed-toed shoes?
Make your life easy and don’t wear heels.
More advice? Carry light. When I hauled that tube up the hill twice, in my heeled shoes carrying my heavy handbag, I developed lower back pain two nights later and immediately knew where it had come from.
For God’s sake don’t be like me, wear appropriate footwear, pack light, and carry the tube as unforcefully as you can. Or bring Hubbie along and he can do it.
And if all else fails, remember…
(Mwa ha ha!)
At first glance perhaps pricey on entry, but when you see all the beauty and fun, relaxation and learning that these Gardens have to offer, you will see that it is well worth the price.
Our visit there was rushed, so I cannot wait to go back and explore some more.
And for something different, an alternative and highly entertaining present would be the Tree Surfing and Zip Lines as a fabulous and inventive gift idea.