So you’ve been dating a vampire for several months now and you’re ready to introduce him to your family. It’s the holiday season and everyone will be gathering at your parents’ house; what better time and place to introduce them to the love of your life? Now, while you’re obsessing over how your family will react when they meet your darling love, try to remember to be sensitive to his circumstance as well.
The hallmark of Thanksgiving and Christmas is the big family dinner. You’ll sit down at the table with your vamp boyfriend by your side. Everyone else will be exchanging nervous glances as they pass the yams and the dinner rolls. But your sweetheart won’t be able to partake of any of it. Maybe he’ll be polite and fill his plate, but he won’t actually eat any of it. (Word of advice, don’t let that become a topic of discussion at the table; someone’s likely to faint.)
What’s a decent fellow to do when he’s literally allergic to everything on the dinner menu except the guests? Well, if you’re a sensitive girlfriend, you’ll plan ahead with a special treat just for him.
Photo by Gina Collecchia under Creative Commons license
This tantalizing drink will blend in a little in front of the other guests. Top with a slice of veal or other juicy raw meat. Don’t forget to label the mixture in the fridge so someone else doesn’t decide to try it.
Food allergies can really dampen the holidays. They create a barrier that prevents a person from fully participating in the festivities, which are usually centered around food. Even though I would sit at the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table with a scoop of mashed potatoes on my plate, I always felt like I was really standing outside with my face pressed against the window as everyone else “mmmed” and “ahhed” over the other delicacies. If you’re going to have a holiday guest with food restrictions, try to make something special for them. Or better yet, try to adapt the whole meal with substitutes. There are some great and tasty alternatives out there. Besides, the holidays aren’t about the food, but about the people you share it with.
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It is my great honor to welcome Katy Hulme as a guest here today. She was one of the first people I met when I joined this strange and sometimes terrifying world of social media. I love her wit and sense of humor, plus her strong writing voice. She’s become one of my very good friends, and she’s here today to tell us about what it’s like to have an Aussie Christmas.
It’s that time of year again, when I suspect many of you are getting out your winter woolies, stocking up on the hot chocolate, perhaps preparing for the first snow fall of the season, and lighting open fires lined with Christmas stockings. A scarf and gloves are necessary accessories whenever you leave the house, and the smell of mince pies and Christmas puddings intoxicate the tinsel-lined streets.
As an imported pom, I am familiar with the traditional image of a White Christmas; open fire, falling snow, roast turkey and all. As a kid in the UK, I would spend the time leading up to Christmas at school colouring in snow covered yule logs, making paper snowflakes and at recess bolting outside to build snowmen. I was always rugged up from head to toe in as many layers as I could manage and even then, I was still always cold.
When I moved to Australia at the age of ten, I was introduced to an entirely different experience.
For those of you who aren’t aware, December for us Aussies is the start of what’s usually a scorching hot summer. While you all the way up there in the Northern Hemisphere are sitting by an open fire, warming your cold hands, we’re sitting by the pool, cooling our hot feet. We leave the house with sunscreen, hat and sunnies in tow, and every day soak in the summer sun. The usual summer holiday festivities reign, with music festivals, road trips, camping, and pub crawls taking place, along with many days spent lying on the beach.
On Christmas Day, every family of course has their own traditions, but some things are nationwide-understood customs. Due to the heat we scrap the hot, inside oven for a Christmas lunch cooked on the backyard BBQ, or a beach BBQ for those lucky enough to grab an early spot by the sand. Hot roast turkeys are replaced with fresh seafood, cold meats, salads and our national desert, Pavlova; a meringue cake with a crisp crust, soft marshmallow centre, topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit.
While Christmas meals are usually reserved for family, we are not at all opposed to celebrating the holiday with friends, passing the day lazing on the beach with mates, cold beer in hand and regular dips in the waves to cool down. Many will embrace the theme of Christmas and dress in Santa suits, but not before they are altered to better suit the Australian climate, with shorter sleeves and even shorter shorts.
Yet, with all these differences abound, we can’t seem to shake some of the worldwide Christmas traditions. Presents still sit wrapped under the tree and Santa still comes to visit us all the way Down Under (although he, too, has to make a quick wardrobe change into his summer Santa suit). A Christmas tree is still customary, although many families opt for fake trees, which bear a little better in the summer heat. Decorations line the streets and traditional Christmas carols still resonate through the radio and shopping centres. We still ‘dream of a white Christmas’ and of ‘walking in a winter wonderland’, singing along to Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer at our annual Carols by Candlelight. We do have an excellent 90s Australian rendition of Jingle Bells (Dashing through the bush, in a rusty Holden ute, kicking up the dust, esky in the boot), but the original jingle still plays.
You see, although we like to do things our own special way down here in Aus, we can’t help but embrace the rest of the world’s traditions while we’re at it. I cannot deny that I’ve grown quite fond of my Christmases by the beach, and while we may have replaced snow with sand and hot chocolate with a cold beer, Christmas is still a time for family and loved ones, a time for being merry, sharing a laugh, and sparing a thought for those less fortunate. While I sometimes miss the White Christmas, the fireplace and the hot roast dinners, I am thankful the fundamentals are the same and feel lucky to call Australia home.
Whether you’re dressed in beanies or bikinis this festive season, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
“Dashing through the bush in a rusty Holden ute,
Kicking up the dust, Esky in the boot,
Kelpie by my side, singing Christmas songs,
It’s summer time and I am in my singlet, shorts and thongs.
Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia on a scorching summer’s day,
Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a dusty Holden ute.
Engine’s getting hot, we dodge the kangaroos,
The swaggie climbs aboard, he is welcome too.
All the family’s there, sitting by the pool,
Christmas day in the Aussie way, by the Bar-b-cue. Oh!
Come the afternoon grandpa has a doze,
The kids and Uncle Bruce are swimming in their clothes,
The time comes round to go, we take a family snap,
And pack the car and all shoot through
Before the washing up. Oh!”
With the holiday season fast approaching, people are breaking out the crafts. First up are Halloween decorations. We used to carve pumpkins when I was growing up. Simple at first, but then I fell in love with the various patterns you could buy at Michaels. Carving cats was much more fun than triangle noses and mouths. My least favorite part, however, was scooping out the pumpkin innards. Blegh.
My solution now is not to carve at all. But my mom still wanted some pumpkins for decorations, so last year she bought them anyway–and gave me the job of decorating them. Not to worry. If I didn’t want to use a knife, I could use a Sharpie.
You can do this at home too if you don’t like the mess of carving the pumpkins (and the even worse mess of throwing them out after they’ve molded). And you can still use the patterns from the carving book. Simply use the Sharpie to color in the areas you would normally cut out.