Thursday, 26 December 2013

A Multi-Cultural, Ninja Turtle Christmas

Christmas has come and gone for another year, and I hope you all had a wonderful day with family and/or friends wherever you may have been, and however you may have celebrated it.

This year, our Christmas was a little different, it was a little extra multi-cultural than usual. Having Dutch parents, but being born in New Zealand has meant that there has always been a mixture of Dutch and Kiwi at Christmas time and sometimes as early as the beginning of December when the Dutch celebrate Sinterklaas on the 5th of December, or the feast day of Saint Nicolas who traditionally arrived from Spain in a boat with his Moors bearing gifts. Christmas Day was then more reserved for the celebration of Christ's birth.

As such, our family in New Zealand, mum, dad, my brother and myself, did not celebrate Sinterklaas, but I did have the pleasure in 1974 whilst in Holland, with my aunt, uncle and cousin. By then, Sinterklaas in our family was more a "gift with a twist" occasion, in which you had one person to gift for, but the gift was hand made and personalised in such a way that it told a story. I believe, if I remember correctly all those years ago, that I received a miniature cardboard constructed town, with painted buildings, people and cars etc and snow, because I had wanted a White Christmas. It was absolutely brilliant, and priceless, without a doubt the best gift ever.

To keep up my Dutch heritage and to ensure my children do as well :), I make a few Dutch Christmas and New Year dishes, see last post, and hang ornaments like this beautiful star in Delfts Blauw (Blue).
But as I was saying, we had extra culture this year, introduced by one of my daughters. It came on Christmas Eve in the form of a magnificent, local Argentinian parrilla, or BBQ, to which we were invited.

We were amongst Argentinians who knew how this was done, and it was done expertly may I say! This backyard parrilla was enormous, big enough to grill a butterflied pig and enough chickens to feed around 60 of us! We all sat around long trestle tables and ate our meal of meat, salad and chimichurri off wooden platters.

The flavours were wonderful, unlike any I had ever tasted before. Here is a short youtube video of a parrilla so you REALLY get the idea. (paint and right click if you can't access the link),d.dGI

It was a very convivial atmosphere with great food, great company and beautiful music. Same time, same place next year? I hope so!

Christmas Day saw us up early to have breakfast with my son and his family. First we collected my mum from the nursing home where she lives. It was already around 27 degrees C at 7.30am so the day was warming up. Mum is wheelchair bound, but we got her inside safely to be confronted by the uproar of 3 young excited boys under the age of 3 (two of whom are twins), Christmas Carols, floor space almost non-existent in the lounge, but the promise of an Aussie breakfast of bacon, scrambled egg, pancakes, berry fruits, pineapple, melon, ice-cream, mango daquiris and champagne.

After all that was consumed and the twins put to bed, the serious business of present opening could begin. (As the boys had already opened theirs from Santa, the twins being in bed was not an issue). As you can see, we had help, expert help.
And, surprise, surprise, this expert help also turned out to be a ninja turtle at one point in the morning. Yes, we have a very devoted ninja turtle fan in the family. Ninja turtle costume, pj's, jocks, figurines, shorts and t-shirts materialised that morning.
By 11.30 it was time to head home. My son and family were heading off to the in-laws for lunch, mum to the nursing home and 4 of us to our own lunch. Although we weren't having an Aussie barbie, our lunch would be a typical Aussie/Kiwi Christmas Day lunch. On our menu were prawns, cold ham and chicken, smoked salmon dip, 2 salads, mango salsa more champagne and pavlova for desert. Yum, yum, As it turned out we didn't eat until 3pm, which is also typical!

After eating and cleaning up, it was time for a movie and total relaxation for the remainder of the day. There was only the 2 of us now, so we settled down to watch Terry Pratchett's "Hogfather".
Christmas on Discworld, an alternate world moving through space supported by 4 elephants standing on the back of a turtle.  Weird? Yes. Wonderful? Yes again, like all of Terry Pratchett's books. He has in fact to date written 40 books in the Discworld Series. Here is his latest.

So that was our Christmas. On to New Year. I usually don't see the New Year in, believe it! Our family is small, the kids celebrate with friends and I find it a real challenge to stay up. However, I wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR, enjoy all the parties you'll be attending, and I'll see you in 2014.

Leonie, Winnie and Hunny, Santa's tired helpers.

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