Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lest We Forget...

On this day in 1918, at the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, an armistice was signed that ended World War 1. The following year, King George V dedicated the day as a day of remembrance for those members of the armed forces who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the war.

Remembrance Day now commemorates all those who have made this sacrifice serving their country. The poppy is used as the symbol of Remembrance Day because of Canadian John MacRae's poem, In Flanders Fields which tells of the poppies blooming across the fields in Flanders (the site of some of the fiercest fighting during World War 1). The red colour of the poppies represents the blood that was shed during the battle.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them
Lest we forget.

On this Remembrance Day, wear your poppy proudly and take a minute to honour those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, so that we could live in freedom. Lest we forget.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Santa Claus is coming to town...

Hmm, yes, I know that it is only the beginning of November but decorations are already up in the shopping centres and I feel that is only a matter of days before the endless loop of Christmas Carols are played to enhance your shopping experience at this time of year. My sister noticed a certain smell beginning to permeate the air (she does work in a chocolate shop) and this inspired her to note all the things she loves about Christmas time. I thought that this is an awesome idea, so here it is, the things I love about Christmas time...

1. Christmas carols.

My parents have this great CD of Bing Crosby carols that we listen to while decorating the tree, eating Christmas lunch and generally when we feel like it during the Christmas season. When I was a kid, I used to have a cassette of Christmas carols as sung by Disney characters. I absolutely treasured this tape and would play it over and over. I was devastated when the tape was eaten by my tape player. I have searched high and low for a CD of the songs, but to no avail. My family also has a tradition of watching the Carols by Candlelight on Christmas Eve, all sitting in the lounge room with a big plate of Christmas treats, including homemade fruit mince pies, truffles and rum balls. Heaven!

2. Presents.

Buying, wrapping, giving, receiving, I love presents. I love the thrill of shopping for the perfect gift for a loved one, wrapping it beautifully and then seeing their face as they open it, bleary eyed early on Christmas morning.

3. The tree.

Each year, my yearning to decorate the Christmas tree gets earlier and earlier. But I sit on my hands and wait (im)patiently til December 1, and then it's out with the boxes of decorations and on goes the Bing Crosby CD for the tree decorating extravaganza. Now that I've moved out of home, my boyfriend (who loves Christmas time just as much as I do) and I have our own tree but I love to go over to my parent's place and help to decorate theirs too).

4. The lights.

Oooh, Christmas lights. I love driving/walking around the neighbourhood looking at all the lights, especially after a summer storm and all the lights are extra twinkly because of the rain drops.

5. The treats.

Rum balls and cookies and shortbread, oh my... And the list goes on, fruit mince pies, stollen, white christmas, truffles, candy canes... I love them all - especially the home made ones... Especially the ones made by my nan - she is the best cook and she always makes the delicate almond shortbreads just for me. Love you nan :)

6. The traditions.

Getting up super early on Christmas Day, having my little sisters crawl into bed with me at 4am bringing their stockings so we can sit under the covers and inspect everything, sneaking out to the tree to see how many presents were left by Santa, not opening presents until Dad has made his cup of coffee, taking turns at playing "Santa" and handing out the presents, setting up the Nintendo 64 and having Mario Kart tournaments all day with Dad repeatedly getting his ass kicked, wearing the colourful paper hats that come from the Christmas crackers, eating so much food that a nap after lunch is warranted (this is probably also due to the fact that we got up at 4am). Some of these traditions have fallen by the wayside as we have grown up (especially the getting up at 4 am ones) but we still always play Mario Kart and always eat way too much at lunch and we have also developed new ones, such as all sharing a drink or two (which makes for interesting Mario Karting).

Yes, indeedy, I love, love, love Christmas and have already started to count down for this year. I've planned what Christmas goodies I will bake and started making my list (and checking it twice).

What do you love about Christmas?