Christmas in our Family – Part One

Christmas is a special time for families.  Here, two families share with the Catholic Voice how they celebrate Christmas and create a trove of memories for their children.

Michael & Stephanie Claessens – St Joseph’s, O’Connor 

Michael prepares a Nativity scene in one of our front windows so it can be seen from the street.  We hope that people who see the blow-up Santas around the corner will also see our lit star on our roof and Nativity.  Our intellectually impaired son loves the setting up as he knows the baby Jesus will soon be coming.  His acceptance and simplicity is a gift.

We belong to the Neocatechumenal Way and Advent is a big joyful time.  We begin both Advent and Lent with 6 am morning prayer at the Parish.  Receiving material gifts is a more joy-filled experience when its significance lies in a God who came as a helpless baby. 

Leading to Christmas Eve we will experience a live Nativity with real camels, wise men and the Holy Family.  The beauty of the Cathedral choir at Midnight Mass lifts my soul and it is wonderful to see people’s joy. 

But before this, we need to receive the baby Jesus and place Him in His manger.  We prepare a beautiful meal for Christmas Eve.  Champagne and other special drinks are opened and celebrations begin.

We enjoy roast lamb (lamb cutlets at our house) with warm baby potato salad in egg mayonnaise and Greek salad.  As darkness falls, we take lit sparklers to locate Jesus in the garden, which our youngest son in particular loves.  Once found, we return to dessert.

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On Christmas Day we wake to coffee, croissants and presents.  We share Christmas lunch with people who do not have family in Canberra and include breaks between courses to share water pistol or balloon fight (hot days), street cricket or a walk to the beautiful inlet on the Murrumbidgee.

My most memorable Christmases were when our son Sebastian left the hospital after six months and the years my Mum spent with us before she passed away.


Alison Kellyn – St Augustine’s, Yass

Since my divorce 10 years ago, there have been many challenges and emotionally charged moments, negotiating how Christmas should work.

We have now settled into a reasonably well-oiled Christmas routine that allows my children, those with partners and those with young children, a sense of building family Christmas traditions that work for them.

Our celebrations start with “Nibling Christmas” (our collective noun for nieces and nephews) where my children, partners and grandchildren gather at my house to share gifts and a meal.  While there is a tradition of Christmas Vigil Mass, some (in freedom) choose not to come along.  The fierce but friendly themed Christmas wrapping competition between siblings is a highlight every year.

Our next celebration is with my extended family.  The loud, rambunctious and often hilarious sit-down-hot-Christmas-lunch is open to anyone and includes backyard cricket as well as family singalong after the Kelly Santa has distributed gifts.

A new tradition on Christmas Eve, introduced a couple of years ago by my daughter’s Austrian boyfriend, is ringing a little bell heralding the Christ Child and singing Silent Night Holy Night in the dark with the Christmas tree emblazoned with sparklers. 

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  • Victor Dunn 4 years

    Great stories.