Traditional Treats from the Simply Music Team
The holiday season is upon us and for many, that means winding down school and/or work and getting ready for some relaxation time with family and friends. So we asked the Simply Music team what makes this time of year special for them, what traditions they love to uphold and what music soundtracks their holiday.
As it turns out, the team members who replied all celebrate Christmas in one way or another. Of course though, we love the diversity of celebrations this time of year brings. Be sure to tell us what lights you up these holidays!
For me, the holidays are all about traditions and family. Being Italian means lots of family and even more traditions!!! My favourite family tradition growing up is the yearly collection of a Christmas ornament. Every year, my sisters and I each pick out an ornament, any type we want (normally from the Hallmark collectors ornaments), and then we all gather together for a special dinner and decorate the tree, looking at all the past years’ ornaments as we go along! Modern Christmas carols are usually played in the background while my mom sings along, “rockin’ around the Christmas tree…” Now that I am a mom, I have carried this tradition over to my son Oliver.
Holidays for me have changed over the years, but the focus has always been friends and family. Growing up in England, Christmas was about carolling around the local villages and being invited in for hot mince pies in front of cozy fireplaces; making snowmen, having snowball fights and getting involved with various community activities. Christmas dinner was roast goose and Yorkshire puddings followed by an evening of candlelit board games and roasting chestnuts and marshmallows over the fire.
Now in Australia with my own family, Christmas is still about family and friends, but we’re now at BBQ’s and on the beach and the days are longer to accommodate an evening of board games followed by a stroll along the seashore to watch the sun set on yet another glorious day together.
My mom loved to bake for Christmas so every year I make her favourite recipes, including Gingerbread Boys, fudge and our family favourite, caramel corn. We spend the holidays with our four children ages 14-23 and our 18 month old grandson. This year we have little James who will undoubtably do all of the unwrapping of gifts! I listen to Rock ’n Roll non-stop but still love Christmas Music, especially old Julie Andrews & Frank Sinatra (via my parents) as well as Amy Grant. My favourite songs are The Christmas Song (Nat King Cole) and Walking in the Air by Nightwish from the movie The Snowman.
The holiday season for my husband and I is usually a well travelled affair. Our families live 5 hours away, but there is something special about going home for Christmas! I’m sure it will be filled with the usual, eating too much, losing the “presents should be opened on Christmas Day, not Christmas Eve” argument with my sister, eating too much, my husband introducing his favourite seasonal movies to our nieces, eating too much, and of course watching the Boxing Day test on the TV (that’s the Cricket for all non Aussies!!)
Our families aren’t big on Christmas music, as a lot of the tunes seem out of place in the Australian summer. It’s hard to enjoy songs about snow etc. when you’re doing all you can to keep cool!! I am however partial to Paul Kelly’s “How To Make Gravy”. It isn’t the most joyful of stories but it is Australian!
We always have a bunch of special friends over after school is over in December and sing carols around the piano. It’s casual enough that people can sing without having to worry about how bad they are. Even when you individually sound pretty terrible, there’s something about the sound of combined voices and the physical buzz of the shared vibrations that can be uplifting. I love that we have the excuse for that little release. This year I’ll make sure we sing Paul Kelly’s How to Make Gravy – as much an Aussie classic as prawns on the barbie. It makes me a little teary just to think about it. All from just five chords!
For Christmas it’s been a tradition that we see a film in theaters after opening our gifts in the morning. I like seeing my friends who are no longer nearby return home so we can spend time together, sometimes playing music. I don’t really have any traditional music that I like to listen to but certain bands always feel more like Winter bands than summer bands, I find myself listening to slower or more introspective bands. Some of the bands that I go to are Pink Floyd, Bon Iver, Joy Division or Postal Service. Something about those bands always make me think of the cold and rain in a really good way.