None of this dancing round a maypole, for we Aussies. No Haka or celebratory singing at special occasions for us! Nope! We have two traditions here. We eat excessively and drink excessively in celebration of all.
Aussies are a nation with very few national customs. We drink to celebrate the birth, the christening, the wedding, the birthdays of anyone in our community. Someone dies in a small town, and the fridge fills up with food and the wake begins.
Birthday? Lets drink till we fall over, and shave off an eyebrow. Christmas is composed of how many beers and prawns we can fit in before the obligatory afternoon sleep on the lounge. Easter? Don't get me started on Easter.. There is more chocolate in this house at Easter time than in the Cadbury factory in Tassie. We have a beautiful Easter tree resplendent with its choc eggs and rabbits hanging decoratively, each year.
I've lived for many years in Qld mining towns (man-land) - and looking back, almost all of our successful community fundraising activities surround alcohol also. The Church fete every year had the biggest bar in history, the local high school's main fundraiser is Oktoberfest Complete with all the hi jinks that goes along with that. Hospital fete was a ripper, aside from that year I nearly fell off he stage playing the tambourine. Band, BBQ, and beer. Heaps of it.
The local Footy club has a bar, and many people spend more time inside the bar than watching the game. Wine and cheese night for the Xmas craft fair. The list just grows in line with our waist lines. It all surrounds food and wine and drinking and weight gain.
The more I think about it, the unhealthy we appear as a nation. I read yesterday that 6 in every 10 Aussies are obese - that's even higher odds than the survey of airport customers that I undertook earlier this year. More than half our population are obese, not just overweight OBESE. ( that's really bloody fat, for those of you who may not know..)
Lets, this year, decide not to play?
Lets Decide to cook healthy, paleo, natural foods for Xmas day, (predominantly - okay? I can hear you Pav lovers squealing...) and offer nutritious alternatives. Make non alcoholic punch instead of champagne for breakfast. Instead of store bought preservative laded dip and biscuits, do vege crudités and homemade beetroot or carrot dip. Meat for lunch, veges or salad. Desserts made from clean, fresh ingredients. Low alcohol or no alcohol drinks. Freshly squeezed juice and banana pancakes for breakfast. So many fresh ideas that involve healthy eating,
I could go on for hours. Google clean Christmas foods if you need inspiration. Don't tell anyone, I can guarantee that no one will notice the difference. They will all be so impressed with the diversity and the great tasting food you've prepared, no one will think that they are missing out. Go on, cook up a storm!
This year, we've started our own tradition. Usually we overspend on food, on presents, on decorations that last just one day. That abundance will be going to a better cause this year. Our Rainbow House. It's a local charity that fundraises for an school for orphans and kids in need in Africa. Positions on the committee are voluntary, the money's raised go directly to fund the school, not eaten away by administrative costs. $500 will be heading their way this year courtesy of our family.
I've had people tell me, how lucky we are that we can afford to do this... We're no luckier than anyone else, we've just become much more aware of our excesses. And want to put that excess to a better use. It's probably a selfish purpose as well, no extra lollies or chocolates, calorie filled soft drinks etc will benefit us all and by Boxing Day we'll bounce outta bed ready for exercise at 5am as usual.
This festive season, I'd love for you to start your own family tradition. That involves more than eating and drinking to explosion point. One that fits with your family and your lifestyle. One that makes your family feel good about each other, and that will bring them together as a family unit.
This year, when we sit for Xmas lunch, each member will have the opportunity to tell all about their highlights of the year, what they were most proud of, and how much we mean to each other.. Along with giving thanks for our health, good luck and a wish for continued happiness.
May your lead up to the festive season be wise, and fun, and dream filled... And healthy.