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I don't know if I've ever blogged about my mother's family Christmas traditions before, and as work seems to have FINALLY calmed down I thought I'd take the opportunity.

My maternal grandfather is Lithuanian and we follow many of the Lithuatian Christmas traditions. I am actually not sure how much is Lithuanian and how much is just our family now.

We celebrate on Christmas eve, not on Christmas Day.

We used to go to my grandparents house, but this year we have started going to my aunt's instead and Grandma and Grandad are getting a bit too frail to host.

We arrive around 4:30pm and have drinks and snacks while my cousins and I all catch up with each other since that last time we met (usually Father's Day in September.) We put the Christmas presents under the tree, when we were younger Grandad used to cover all the presents with a bedsheet and tell us if we even peeked a fairy would make them all dissappear.

At about 6pm my grandfather brings out a piece of whole, flat-bread, like a communion wafer. We say a prayer and he breaks it in half and gives half to Grandma, who breaks it in half and gives it to someone else, and so on until everyone has broken bread with everyone else there. This is meant to symbolise family togetherness, and also meant to symbolise forgiveness for any fights or disagreements during the year, so that the Christmas table will be one of peace (in theory...)

We have dinner. Dinner is 13 dishes (to symbolise the people at the Last Supper.) All dishes are cold and biblically meatless (so seafood is okay.) This is a Lithuanian tradition that translates very well to Australia!These dishes change from year to year, but some are always there, including a traditional Lithuanian fish casserole that is AWESOME, tiger prawns, hard boiled eggs, rollmops and rice salad. This year for the first time I was allowed to contribute. I made what I make for Dad's side when we get together: a cold roast vegetable salad with spiced cous-cous and pomegranate. Everyone seemed to like it and my fussiest cousin went back for seconds- the only thing she had twice! So I was happy.

After dinner we congregate in the loungeroom and all the grandchildren (and Seamus as a grandchild-in-law) stand in front of the Christmas tree and sing carols (no carols- no presents!) I think we've improved over the years, we know most of the words now, don't get so distracted, and some of us can even harmonise.

After carols Grandad used to sit under the tree and pass presents to the grandkids, who would deliver them to the adults before falling on their own pile with glee. Grandad can't get under the tree anymore, he now walks with a stick, so my cousin Emily took his place and my younger cousins handed out the presents. Seamus and I did very well, we got wine, dvds, bunning vouchers, pot plant pots, a beautiful windchime and lots of other things besides.

Now looking back on it I like that as a kid we had to wait til the very end for presents, it prolonged the enjoyment.

The rest of the evening is spent in conversation, with platters of fruit and Pfeffenusse (sp? ginger biscuits) and coffee.

And now I am off upstairs to have my Christmas lunch with everyone else at Air Ambulance today, Merry Christmas everyone!!
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mstakenidentity

April 2011

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