Christmas at the Forsbergs

Christmas is definitely my favourite holiday. I love Christmas for two main reasons, both starting with a big fat F; Food. And. Family.

Our front yard is concrete, and we have long tables set up through the middle where we have our Christmas festivities. The day starts off with us having to set these tables with Christmas tablecloths, centrepieces and napkins folded neatly.

I love that as mid-day rolls around, our family starts pouring through our big white and green front gate carrying platters and pots of whatever they agreed to make for our giant Linner (late lunch/early dinner) feast.

The kitchen bench and dining table starts to fill up as snacks and drinks are being set out. Everyone is coming in and out of the kitchen as they each start preparing their part of the main meal.

I’m definitely the most traditional in the family when it comes to these sorts of holidays. I was the one to strongly advocate for having a turkey this year. I’m sure everyone else would’ve been alright giving it a miss, but I told dad it wasn’t Christmas without a turkey with my Grandma’s special stuffing. Thank goodness I was there to save the day!

We have many other traditions for our Christmas meal including Mum’s Russian eggs – an appetiser that disappears in seconds, and Dad’s famous potato salad – I don’t know what his secret is because he still won’t tell us, but it’s a big hit.

With us being half Indian n all, don’t be surprised to find a curry or two thrown in there somewhere. We’re traditional but we’re also eclectic. Oh, speaking of which, it might not be part of the main meal, but my mum also makes these famous Swedish Christmas cookies called; Peppercocker. It’s like gingerbread but waaaaay better and the recipe is my Nanna’s. It was rather funny watching my mum just last week, trying to decipher the recipe which had been written out by my Nanna years ago in part broken English and part Swedish. It’s like she’s come up with her own language all together.

I miss both my Grandma and Nanna around this time of year.

I’d say that my family is pretty big, though I’m sure other families would argue there’s was bigger. Ofen we have friends or “strays” who aren’t spending Christmas with their families come join us too. Yesterday there was 16 of us all together, sitting around the long table set up in the front yard. The table is mostly shaded by the giant gumtree in our front yard but you would hope it wasn’t too hot.

Yes, that’s right all you northerners, down under we have a hot Christmas and you know what? That’s just the way I like it!

By the time everyone has arrived, most of the adults over 18 have a drink in their hand. The traditional Christmas cocktail in our house is a bright green Champaign and Midori – it tastes like watermelon lemonade.

Presents are opened in the living room and the floor ends up covered in wrapping paper as we try to cross the room to exchange hugs and kisses. I was definitely spoilt rotten this year but I’ve come to discover ever since I’ve had the means to buy presents for my family, the fun is always in the giving. This year was also Romeo’s first Christmas with us and he got presents too. But I reckon he enjoyed tearing up all the scattered wrapping paper just as much.

I love having all the people I love in the one place. Catching up on life, making each other crack up with laughter, or getting into passionate or cheeky discussions – those are usually led by my infamous Uncle Eugene or my dad.

When the main feast is winding down, the table is cleared and out comes the desserts – yes, there’s more, what did you expect? Another tradition for almost every special occasion is my Aunty Deb’s Pavlova which is topped with whatever fresh berries or fruits she can find and whipped cream. This year we ended up with five different desserts to choose from; two pavlovas, a cheesecake, Forrest cake and Aunty Michelle’s homemade Christmas pudding. There was custard to go with all that too. Dessert is always served with tea and coffee and eggnog – for those who like eggnog… not me.

The day would normally start to cool down as the sun lowers in the sky, but people are still outside, lounging around talking as they try to survive the food coma that’s about to set in. Despite having eaten a tonne, there is always so much left over. It’s enough to feed our family for weeks.

The remains of paper crowns and bon-bon wrappers are scattered across the table and ground. Sometimes the younger relatives go off to play b-ball in the back – that is, if they’re not inside playing some new video game they got for Christmas.

But as the day winds down, I can’t help but feel disappointed as I come to the realisation that once again, Christmas has been and gone.

Claudia Forsberg is a Melbourne based writer and journalist. She is currently working as a Regional Trainee with ABC Ballarat.


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