Delicate Gifts

There are some elements of Christmas which, even though they seem absurd in a hot Australian summer, are nice to include nonetheless. I try not to go overboard on the white christmas stuff because, resonant though it is of the northern hemisphere Christmas symbolism, it’s not got a lot to do with what happens south of the equator.

It’s hard though to eliminate all signs and symbols when they’re so inherited, so much a part of the memory of childhood Christmases so I try to apply a personal barometer to choosing my own symbols for Christmas. No snowmen, no reindeer and a real minimisation to the whole Santa thing. None of those mean much to me. I find colours are far more meaningful as symbols so I’ll decorate food, cards, trees etc in colours and so on in a way that calls up Christmas imagery, without resorting too much to images that are empty to me.


If that sounds at all like I give it serious amounts of thought – I don’t. I give nods to Christmas in small gestures. A small tree, a few seasonally appropriate cake decorations and a playlist on my ipod that’s as devoid of cheese as I can make it.


To that end, the snowflake decorations in these photos were a gift from RoseRed last Christmas. I tucked them away at the time, saving them for this year. I love them because they’re handmade by a friend, they’re delicate, clever and add a personal touch to a tree largely laden with the cheap shop bought baubles I have previously collected, although in the mix are a growing collection of decorations that have been given to us that we love.


They’re perfect and in years to come will mean far more to me than the bits and pieces I threw in a basket one lunch time in Big W a couple of years ago. It’s in these small ways I inject personal meaning into a festival that seems intent on being large, overblown and impersonal every year.

Thank you, RoseRed. I really love them. Anyone else care to share ways they infuse Christmas with personal significance?



18 thoughts on “Delicate Gifts

  1. Most of the ornaments on our tree are those from my childhood. When my parents retired to the country they were given to me because my father always said that children should have Christmas in their own home – I was pregnant with the only grandchild at that time. Other of the ornaments were my grandparents – given to me for the same reason (they also moved with my parents). One or two ornaments were gifts from students past and one or two I bought along the way.

    BTW, I know I’m late posting but I have spent almost my whole day sitting here knitting and reading every post since 29th June. Couldn’t resist commenting on this one.

  2. I like your approach. As a native northerner, I’ve never been able to figure out snow stuff in summer! But those snowflakes are perfect. I should know: I’ve got a foot of the white stuff right outside my door!

  3. those snowflakes are very lovely, and i love that christmas and crochet can be combined – perfect for you. i’ve crocheted some less-delicate stars this year for christmas.

  4. Those snowflakes look gorgeous. I am not putting up the tree or any Christmas decorations as we are away for Christmas & will only be back in Jan.

  5. The snowflakes are lovely! Thanks for sharing what Christmas is like south of the equator; I’ve always wondered what its like to have Christmas in summer. When my daughter was a toddler, we didn’t get a tree but bought a huge a wreath and put up a lovely cedar swag in the front window. We covered them with all our tree ornaments. We don’t have balls either, but mostly wooden toys and a few special glass pieces that twinkled in the window. That was the only year without the tree, but we’ve done the wreath and swag every year since. Of course, now that she’s 7, we’ve got quite a collection of special ornaments that she’s made 🙂

  6. Our first tree was a tiny little thing with just the few ornaments on it we could afford. 20+ years later, that handful of ornaments has all the memories of my first married Christmas, plus all the trees in between.

  7. They are beautiful, and I think it’s that they are made with love that makes them so special. I love the decorations my friends’ children make for us every year. In fact, we leave some of them up in various sneaky places through the house, all year long.

  8. Beautiful snowflakes, they’re a lovely addition to your tree.

    I’m at the point where I’m drifting away from my family’s traditions, but Matt and I have yet to form our own. However, seeing and feeling the stress of visiting, gift buying and food making makes me really want to get away from mainstream expectations of Christmas. Even writing that makes me feel very Scroogey!

  9. LOVE them! My tree is now completely covered with only handmade (kid-made, mostly) ornaments, or special ones I chose or was gifted. The plain store balls stopped being needed a few years ago, and now there are even nice store ones I don’t bother with anymore. Some people hate the “messy” look of non-matching ornaments, but each one actually means something to me – or reminds me of something or someone. I love putting up my ornaments each year, and remember each one and how I got it. This year, though, the sheer quantity of them made me feel old. So maybe it’s not so bad you only have a few so far – it means you’re young!

  10. Its the lights. Christmas is so much a festival of light for me. The days are short and cold and cloudy, and the lights feed my heart.

  11. My goal is to some day make some of those snowflakes because I like them so much. They just look hard and my brain is not often up to that level of concentration this time of year. Maybe next July….

    I have memories of happy Christmases as a child but they always had rules surrounding them. My desire was to make a holiday that had traditions that evolved naturally and that brought enjoyment to everyone without increasing the stress level. For instance, we always do cut out sugar cookies on the 23rd. This came about when I was teaching and the kids were small and Pk and I were separated. I was exhausted and kept putting off the cookies until I couldn’t put it off any further. I came home from work and told the girls to let me rest for one hour and we’d make cookies. It worked and we had such a good time that it became the way it worked every year after. It’s been 15 years now and although things are way different, we still make those cookies on the 23rd. That’s the way most of our “traditons” have evolved.

  12. I’ll be honest: I didn’t really enjoy Christmas much until I had my own children. Now I think that I shouldn’t have waited to create traditions, but it had some very painful associations for me that didn’t get truly erased until I had to step outside myself and make sure my children didn’t inherit them.

    We’re not even getting our tree until next weekend, because Chris is away this weekend and cutting down and decorating the tree is a family activity. Plus, I’m not sure I should try to simultaneously wield a hacksaw and wrangle a toddler…

  13. Awww, thanks! It is my dream to one day only decorate my tree with handmade ornaments. Right now, I have, um, none! heh! I do have some very nice ornaments though (thank you to half-price or more off Christmas decorations in the New Year sales!)

    (actually, I do have two large crochet snowflake decorations, so they are definitely handmade, but I bought them, years ago, in London).

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