I'm giving my Mum's partner full credit for this week's blog. He proved the theory that talking with somebody about a problem you're having can be seen by the other person with fresh eyes. I was truly stuck on what to write about for the letter X until he said, "What about Xmas?"
To be honest, there was a time (not so long ago) when I really loathed the expression Xmas because I mistakenly thought it was a form of blasphemy. According to Gerry Bowler's "The World Encyclopedia of Christmas" though, Xmas means thus:
"An abbreviation for Christmas derived from "X" (chi), the first letter of the Greek word for Christ. Though the term has a long and honourable history, some modern Christians have misunderstood it as a disrespectful kind of shorthand unsuitable for the solemn origin of the name."
Or Dr R Brasch's "Christmas Customs & Traditions" says:
In the Greek language, the letter "X" - shi - was the initial letter of Xristos, meaning Christ. Early scribes were busy people and parchment was costly. They often shortened words to save time and money, and that is how they came to use just the letter X.
So, what about my family's Christmas/Xmas traditions? I have many fond memories of Christmas, both as a child and as an adult. Thanks to my upbringing I have long honoured it as being a time for family, the chance to put aside grievances and worries and spend time with people who mean the most. My grandparents were perfect hosts at Christmas time, going all out with large quantities of festive food and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic). My Mum has very fond memories of her parents preparing for Christmas, from her father carrying home a tree over his shoulder and her mother lighting candles on the tree before gathering around the tree with the whole family to sing carols and hymns. Every year my grandmother Lilian knitted jumpers for each of her four children and later, her many grandchildren. She gave out sugared mice, nuts and oranges to everybody on Christmas morning.
Another childhood memory my Mum has of Christmas with her parents was they would not allow their children outside to play on Christmas Day. They stayed indoors all day sitting by the hearth, sharing stories and singing. Boxing Day was a different story however, and my grandfather would race his children outside and build snowmen and instigate snowball fights with all the children on their street. My first year in Australia was mostly spent on the beach near Scarborough, and I remember that it was awfully hot. I was so sad that day because I missed the snow terribly and all the trimmings and traditions of a northern hemisphere Christmas. I vowed I would never again visit the beach on Christmas Day, and to this day I have kept that promise.
|My grandmother Lilian at Christmas, 1982|
The year before my grandmother Lilian passed away she was given a Teasmaid which all the family chipped in to buy her. She was so surprised when she opened her present, and squealed so loud we all had to politely block our ears. But, she was so thrilled and I remember that very special Christmas moment so clearly (and not just because it was captured on camera). It was her last Christmas with us all.
The last Christmas I remember spending with my grandmother Freda, was at my Dad's house. She loved to sit and watch all of us open our presents from each other, and listen to us all natter. She always got more joy from that than from opening her own gifts. She loved being a part of the family festivities at Christmas. As long as she was included, nothing else mattered and I've inherited that feeling. For me, it's not about the presents. It's about family, it's about providing a huge Christmas turkey dinner with all the trimmings, and it's about love.
|My grandmother Freda, Christmas 1993|