Friday, December 14, 2007

A Kiwi Christmas in Belgium

So this morning my lovely Belgian bloke asked his family if we might host the Christmas Day celebrations this year ... responding to an impulse I had while taking little Miss 3 to Kindy.

When you begin to accept that maybe you're going to spend the next few years living in a country not your own, there are certain psychological hurdles to leap across. Don't even ask to me to explain why it's taken me two and a half years to reach this point of recognition, I have no idea but I've been feeling the overpowering need to stop giving away all of my traditions and celebrations, along with everything else that I've sat back and let slide or stand - like Gert's blue Ikea furniture and learning to drive on the wrong side of the road.

Christmas Day in New Zealand is a huge day and it's been a little bit of a non-event since I started wandering. In Istanbul, we were given the day off work but Muslim countries tend not to celebrate the birth of Jesus ... and in Belgium, well Sinterklaus comes on 6 December and the 25th seems more like a lesser feast day between 6 December and 1 January.

I'm looking forward to food not tasted since Christmas 2002 - they don't do Christmas cake as we know it back home, I'm not sure that Fruit Mince Pies have made it here either. The pavlova is becoming known to almost everyone within the extended family but I'm not so sure about trifle.

I think we'll have to go with roast lamb, although the New Zealand cuts of lamb sold in the supermarkets here are a strange shape and very small as compared to back home. I'd like to roast all the vegetables but maybe we'll see what we have space for in the teensy weensy oven.

Even just writing of it here takes me back to the last Christmas I spent in my childhood home; memories of a summery Christmas afternoon sprawled on a couch outside in the backyard, too full to move, too content to do anything more than exchange mild mocking with the people who have known me forever.

Let's see what we can do over here, now that I finally have some kiwis here with me in this Belgian life ...

18 comments:

christina said...

Ahhh, lovely! Good for you. The first few years I lived here I went along with all of "their" traditions, always feeling quite invisible, as if there was something missing. Then came the mental "Hey, wait a minute, I'm here too and MY traditions are also important!" Caused a few ruffled feathers at times, but that's the way it goes. Nice to gradually take little bits of yourself back, isn't it? :-)

I'm sure your festivities will be wonderful. Haven't had a mincemeat tart (as we Canucks call them) in years - let me know if you find any.

furiousBall said...

Sinterklaus? boy that sounds like he's going to do something bad, I mean the first three letters spell Sin...

Di Mackey said...

Do you think all of us go through that experience, Christina? Thanks for commenting, I was feeling silly for not realising sooner.

I have a recipe for the mincemeat, would you like it? Apples, suet, currants, sultanas, raisins, mixed peel and etc ...

Furiousball, how could you?????
Actually, I guess you don't know about his sidekick ... Zwarte Pete, (aka Black Peter), a Moorish companion.

Manictastic said...

@ furious: We'll he was a Saint, maybe that explains the sin part, lmfao

Poor Di, loosing your traditions can be quite hard, but don't you think you should just move your Christmas to the 21st of July, since the temperatures will resemble more Kiwi X-masses. This would, of course, have the extra benefit of having two Christmasses a year. Something we all dream of, nay? And I'm sure Miss Three would agree with me, because getting twice as many X-masses, means twice as many presents. She's surely gonna love that :P

Di Mackey said...

Manic, you are a genius!!!!

If I do remember the proper summer Christmas in 2008, remind me it was your idea and we'll have a big party to which you're invited :)

Peter said...

I wanna gate-crash! :-))

Candy said...

Hi Di,

I know what you mean about expat Christmases... Can I recommmend a recipe that I used back home a couple of years ago. I served it cold on Christmas day in NZ but it would be just as good warm.

The day before your feast roast kumara (or any kind of sweet potato you can get your hands on), pumpkin (or squash of somekind), potato and capsicum (peppers) along with some bacon (streaky's best but whatever you can find, assuming you're not vegetarian).

On the day put all the above in a bake ware dish, reheat and then pour over hollandaise or mayonnaise with soft blue cheese chunks.

Dead easy and gets you through the oven space issue.

Thanks for your blog - just what I needed away from home for too long myself at Christmas.

Hope you have a very merry Christmas indeed!

C

Di Mackey said...

Hey Candy, thank you! As I read through your idea I thought, 'yes', and then 'yes' again.

Much appreciated :)

Di Mackey said...

Peter! :) Do you know, I'm toying with the idea of having a kind of Christmas orphans dinner in the evening ... I'll let you know so you don't have to gate-crash lol.

Inge said...

I totally understand how you feel, Di, and I applaud you for infusing this Christmas with some Kiwi traditions! I'm afraid my in-laws wouldn't appreciate a Belgian take on festivities, they love their glazed ham & fresh crayfish too much. But the moment Vaughan & I have kids of our own I'll definitely mix some elements of my culture in there. Plus I got to celebrate Sinterklaas last week - my man is always happy to get some candy, whatever the reason :-).

Mlle said...

so you're hosting Christmas dinner this year? That sounds horrific and like so much fun! How many Belgian will you be having? Your menu sounds deee-lish!I think a post of kiwi recipes would be much appreciated :)

Di Mackey said...

Let's see how it goes Inge. There's a little bit more English when people come to my house and my in-laws are the only ones who insist on immersing me in Dutch ... mostly I get 'Wablief?' Oh you speak English, let's talk in English' when I meet other Belgians.

It would make my friends and family die laughing to see me, but I'm pretty quiet at family gatherings where Antwerpenese flies round the room.

And yes, it will be fun to just pretend, despite winter, that's it a family celebration a little like the ones I grew up with in the land downunder :)

I think you have to celebrate everything with kids ... they'll love it. Gert's kids get all gift-giving celebrations.

Oh Shanti, I do love you lol. Hmmm Belgians, well my sister in law and her family will be in Egypt but there will be 7 Belgians and 3 kiwis.

Remind me to post the recipes, just in case I lose my mind between now and then. I could already be in trouble but that's a story for another time ...

ML said...

Oh Al and I are also going to do the Christmas thing for the first time! This will be the first Christmas since Al entered my life that we will not be in the midst of remodeling or building so we will have a Christmas dinner for all of my relatives!! WE are going to cheat a bit on the food.. but it will still be the first Christmas in the new house and none have seen the completed model, and some not even the half way part!! So will be fun!!

Di Mackey said...

ML, I'm really looking forward to hearing how it goes. I'm sure they'll all love the place :)

V-Grrrl said...

Have you told the Belgians they must wear Stubbies to the Kiwi Christmas?

Will you be pouring L & P?

I like Manic's idea as well. Perfect way to bring a Southern Hemisphere Christmas to the North.

Di Mackey said...

No way, Veronica! I've only just convinced him that there is no way he is packing his Speedos for NZ, I could see him getting altogether too comfortable in Stubbies.

Sigh, my father and brothers wore them ... oh the shame.

V-Grrrl said...

Your dad wore Stubbies?

Oh my. The damage to your psyche. THIS explains everything.

But hmmmm, from what you've said about your brothers, I rather like to imagine they rocked the Stubbies.

And you don't want Gert to rock the Speedo in NZ? Oh yes, I forgot those NZ girls are terrible husband stealers. Best to deck him out in the Boardies.

Di Mackey said...

Hah! and what's to explain about me? :)

Speedo's don't rock in any way, shape or form V. They're a real no-no in NZ, so he's been warned not to try it.