What a difference a year makes. Reflecting on last year’s Ruby Slipper Christmas blog, I can see how far we’ve come in just 12 short months – having grown from a business of two to a company of three.
A year of incredible opportunity, breathtaking challenges and upwards momentum, 2016 has been a hard taskmaster. I learned so much about myself courtesy of my business, encouraged and supported by the talented team of Leah and Emma. Each new step has progressed us forward in our category of social media expertise – finessing and protecting our offering while coaching us towards being ever-better writers, graphic designers, teachers and speakers.
Ruby Slipper’s gift to you this holiday are three unique Christmases as written by Iolanthe, Leah and Emma. Beautifully photographed by Breeana Dunbar on the Merri Creek, featuring fragrant and elegant eucalypt crowns by florist Mademoiselle Fleur. We wish you a Merry Christmas, and all the blessings of a 2017 that challenges and rewards you in equal measure. It’s been our best year yet, and we’re only getting started.
Iolanthe: A Christmas in Brunswick East
Growing up in the bushland of the Dandenong Ranges, Brunswick East strikes a perfect balance between nature and nurture, between the Merri Creek’s waving gums and trickling water and the ease of jumping on the 96 tram and heading into the city.
“Having only lived in Brunswick East for a few years, we’re still creating our own Christmas rituals at home; these always begin on the first weekend of December when I dress my tree. It’s a funny, old fake one, lovingly purchased from K-Mart 12 years ago and hung with delightfully mismatching ornaments given to me over the years. As I hang each decoration, I remember the friends and family who gave them to me. It’s a comforting ritual. I pop Christmas decorations around the house, place a Skandi-straw reindeer at the door and I start to stockpile panettone. There’s a couple of things my husband and I really love at Christmas – we listen to an album of Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole songs, and we always watch Disney’s A Christmas Carol. Featuring Gary Oldman and Jim Carrey, it is deeply moving and very beautiful. It’s also a reminder not be like like Scrooge Christmas in Brunswick East punctuated by Saturday morning visits to The Mediterranean Wholesalers on Sydney Road. I love buying beautiful panforte and torrone for Christmas gifts there, and you can’t beat watching old Italian couples squabbling over biscuit tins and liqueur for getting in the holiday spirit! Christmas Eve always, always, always involves Carols by Candlelight – either by being there in person, or enjoying them on the couch replete with every candle I can possibly light in my house and a few mince pies thrown in for good measure. It’s not Christmas ’til Sylvie Palladino sings!
Christmas Day is either held at my home or my Mother’s. Our motto is MORE IS MORE on Christmas day – we’ll have prawns or lobster, turkey and ham, roast veggies and salads – even if there’s only a few of us. Dessert this year will be trifle, plus Christmas cake and kourabiedes (Greek shortbreads). After lunch, it’s all about retiring to the couch, going for a walk along the Merri Creek or playing charades. As the lavender evening descends, cups of tea come out, wanderers go searching for leftovers and we sit together, sated and tired to watch the Dr. Who Christmas special – and whatever other BBC delights are on ABC. The older I get, the less fuss I seem to make over Christmas Day itself. It’s a time of year that invites reflection upon the past and the future with the people I love most.”
Leah : A Christmas in Taminick
I loved growing up in the country. My family owns a 360 acre bush property in Taminick, which is in Northeast Victoria – Kelly Country.
“It’s conserved land, which means we don’t farm on it but we do have a small cherry orchard. When I was younger, the six or so cherry trees would be heavy with kilos of ripe, organic cherries and my siblings and I would have pip-spitting competitions. Now, the cherries end about two weeks before Christmas. When I first moved to Melbourne to find my fortune, I got a tattoo of some cherries on my foot. It’s a little reminder that my feet can take me back there any time I like!
The weather gets really hot in Taminick too, and I still get worried about bush fires. We had one on the property once – I was helping my dad clear fuel (excess wood) from around the orchard and he had the tractor out. The underside got really hot and the dry grass caught fire. The flames were in the tree-tops in a split second! Luckily, the wind was blowing away from the orchard and the house, but it still took out quite a few acres of bush before the CFA were able to put it out with trucks and helicopters.
I always go home for Christmas. We don’t make a big deal of gifts or decorating, but it’s really important that all the immediate family is there. Each year, we cut a small pine off the property and have a real Christmas tree. As for eats, my parents are vegetarian so we have a meat-free spread of fresh salads, fruit, roast vegetables, cheese and pastries. There’s no alcohol – except for the brandy in mum’s famous Christmas pudding! In the evening we go over to my aunty’s house and have a drink there if we want to. If it’s really hot, we’ll have a swim in the dam! It had leeches last year but my cousin put special fish in there to eat the leeches, which they did so it’s clean now (I tested it).
For me, Christmas is best done simply. I’ll usually avoid the city in the lead-up, I think Christmas hysteria can be a bit contagious. It’s not about retail-mania. It’s about giving, relaxing and enjoying family time.”
Emma: A Christmas in the UK
Hailing from the south coast of the UK, Christmas for me isn’t the sun shower that it is here in the southern hemisphere. Christmas in my small town is all about community.
“Everybody knows everybody – it’s not unusual to spot your grade 4 teacher, your childhood dentist and your first crush’s mum all in one short trip to the bakery to grab your mince pies. The cobbled high street is lined with local businesses – many of which have been there long before I was born – each decking their windows with festive decor and Christmas cheer.
A smile and a friendly ‘Merry Christmas’ is part and parcel of every visit to the bank, the supermarket or the local butcher– it’s just a friendly place to be. My favourite day of Christmas, really, is Christmas Eve. While almost all of my generation of school friends and acquaintances have each moved on to bigger cities, sunnier climes, and hot shot jobs, there’s one thing that remains constant. Christmas Eve drinks in town. Everybody piles into the quaint, small-town pubs of the New Forest, and for one night only, we’re one big family. I’ll be attending via Skype this year, but I know the joy, the love and the shared sense of belonging will be just as rich as it always has been.”
During our Christmas shoot on the Merri Creek, we met many pooches of the northside. Marcelle – a gentlemanly older pup – seemed happy to pose with us. Another altogether less polite canine took it upon himself to wee upon our Christmas prop bag. Seasons greetings, indeed.