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We have gotten so many members from all over the world, and I was wondering how people celebrate the season. Even regionally in this country people do things differently. Most of my information is pre-hurricane. I can't bear to think that I might not do some of these things in the years ahead. I'm not sure how my part of the country will celebrate this year, but we scaled way back on decorating at my parent's house.

Typically we put up artificial trees. We had always used real trees till we returned to MS but the real ones dried out too quickly. I put up 4 trees - a tall one in the dining room decorated only with Santas, a big tree in the sun room with all of the nice ornaments, an alpine tree with natural ornaments and a tree in my bedroom with all of the kid's ornaments that they made or were given through the years. I have a huge collection of Santa that are displayed on every shelf, cabinet, mantle, etc. I probably have over 300 Santas. I always send Christmas cards to out of town friends and they almost always include photos of our family (not this year). Most people seem to use tiny white lights when decorating the outside of homes. I live on a deep water bayou and we have a Christmas boat parade the 2nd Saturday of December. About 40 boats (big and small) are decorated with lights and music. It's called Christmas on the Bayou and the people who live in the homes along the route are the judges. We all have big parties on this night and our friends troop down to the pier to watch the parade and to yell and clap for our neighbors as they ride by. I always go to New Orleans during the holiday seasons and enjoy spending the night and shopping. All of the good restaurants have a special Christmas dinner called Revillion where they have a 3 or 4 course meal with a pre fixe price. You can eat at the best restaurants in the Quarter for a fraction of the usual cost. Our daughters come home from college and we watch Christmas movies and bake and finish the shopping. We go to my parent's for a simple meal on Christmas Eve and then go to Church or sometimes visit other family members. On Christmas morning my parents come to our house and we all open gifts. Then we fix a big meal, watch more movies and eat some more. After Christmas my poor husband takes out a ton of wisdom teeth for all the college kids that are home and the girls and I sleep late and enjoy the break. I never, ever shop the day after Christmas. Oh, and it is usually pretty warm in my town all during the season. Last year, miraculously it snowed for about 45 minutes.

I'm sure there is lots more that I've forgotten but that hits the high points of Christmas in South Mississippi. How about some others?
 

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Well we don't live that far away from Msmagnolia, but here on the Atlantic coast of northern Florida we also normally have warm weather. We live on the St. John's river and we too have an annual Christmas boat parade. It is a big night and the city lights the large Christmas tree at the Landing afterwards. We have not actually participated in decorating our boat for the parade but we do sometimes take the boat and go down to the landing to watch the parade.

Here is a tradition that we do and I love it. Every year about 4-5 days before Christmas I have my husbands the entire family over to our home for the "annual family" get together. The house is properly decorated with 12 trees. Yep twelve trees.....the large tree is in the family room and it is decorated with crystal, pearls, tassels, and ornaments colored only in red, gold, and white. The tree is very formal and beautiful. It has 2000 ornaments on it. I have a small tree beside my cook top in the kitchen, a small tree on the bar, and a small tree on the island. The upstairs extra guest bedroom (the beach suite) has a small tree decorated with sea shells and the bathroom has a small white glass tree. The downstairs extra guest bedroom (the tropical room) has a small tree decorated with glass ornaments in tropical colors. The bathroom has a small tree with tropical decorations. Our master bedroom is very formal and mostly shades of white. I have a white tree in our room decorated with favorites collected over the years. Some are antique ornaments from my husbands mom's collection (very pretty.) My bathroom has a stick tree with white lights, Santa ornaments. Our upstairs office has a tree decorated with Dalmation beanie pups. (Hubby is retired Fire Marshal so the office is fire dept. memorabilia (sp?) There is a 25 ft tree out by the bulk head at the river's edge. It is actually our flag pole but we turn it into a lighted tree for Christmas. It is beautiful at night. Anyway, the family gathers and we have a fire in the family room fireplace. Even if it is warm outside we crank down the AC and put a nice fire in the fireplace. We visit for a few minutes and then my husband reads the Christmas story from the bible. Then we normally share a thankful memory and even a prayer for others who need help or guidance. My nephew is still in Iraq and has been there for 2 years so we pray for his safety. Then we eat. I alway have the formal dining table decorated in tiers with red table clothes drapped over tiers and gathered here and there or crumpled to make it look pretty. We have lots of finger type foods. We have wines, champaigns, mixed drinks, soft drinks, juices, whatever your pleasure. Then after we have all eaten too much we do our gift exchange. Then on Christmas day we can all enjoy our own family and not have to run around visiting everyone else. It works out so well. It is a lot of work and each year I always say I might not do it this year then I do it again anyway. This year my son and his family will be with us. The first Christmas in 15 years. I am very excited and can't wait, they will be here on the 23rd. My grandson has already told me all about how "neat" his new puppy is, "Oscar" a little dashound (sp?). I hope Sassy thinks Oscar is neat
Anyway this is our tradition and we do it each year. Oh yes, and on Christmas Day I cook a big meal. It is normally Prime Rib with twice baked potatos, fresh string beans (and other fixings) and silver dollar rolls. This year I have not decided whether to go with the Prime Rib or do a spiral ham. We could do sandwiches afterwards since my son will be here.
 

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Well Bren you have covered it very well for the Aussie Tradition of Christmas. I can always remember having all the family together at the folks house and mum would cook a huge meal of roasted meats, lots of baked vegetables and her Christmas Plum Pudding was made an month in advance. Now the tradition of this pudding was that we would hide coins in the mixture and it was wrapped in calico and boiled for hours and when taken out it was stood on a plate and Brandy would be poured over it while it was hot so that it could soak through and give it a beautiful flavour, it was then put away to mature till Christmas Day when it was brought out and reheated a little and Brandy flavoured custard was made. This was served after the main meal and I can always remember as kids eating this pudding and finding threepenny, and sixpenny pieces hidden in each piece. Of course that all changed when we got older because Australia change its currency to decimal and the content of the coins also changed and it wasn't safe to use them any more. Mum did keep a collection of the old coins though and we enjoyed the tradition for a little longer but eventually as we got much older that too was gone. The pudding still remains as a tradition in many families but the coins are now history. I have attended many Carols by Candlelight on the banks of the River Torrens in Adelaide where they have a large rotunda on the lawns and often there are guest singers who lead the singing and it is the most inspiring evening and it brings so many people together in peace to join in lighting the night with a single candle each and the children love it too. There are Church services right throughout Christmas and many people go to a midnight service on Christmas Eve
When we were little we were often sent to bed early Christmas Eve so Santa could visit. Our family tradition was to have a special pillow slip attached to the end of our bed. There were three of us in our family, myself and two older brothers and we each had our own pillowcase with our name embroidered on it, done by mum of course. When we awoke on Christmas Day those pillowcases were chokka block full of wonderful gifts and surprises and we would spend most of the day playing with new toys with each other and of course dad would join us while mum was busy in the kitchen. I will always cherish those wonderful memories of my childhood, they were real family days.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Wow! Love hearing about Christmas down under. Do you decorate trees? Real or artificial?
 

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Wow! Love hearing about Christmas down under. Do you decorate trees? Real or artificial?[/B]
Some have the real and some have the artificial. Mostly the artificial because it is usually so hot in Australia around that time of year the real ones don't last and drop needles. People also do decorations throughout the home and on the front of the house but not as many as over here. Most of our traditions are similar I guess but there are some unique to Australia. The one thing I do love here is the Victorian Walk that is held here in the town we are in, where the stores decorate their windows and out the front and everyone just comes to town and walks along greeting one another and enjoying the festivities. I do think it is rather sad though how the Holiday Season is changing here with all the Christmas being taken out of the stores and schools.
Another thing we have in Adelaide where I come from is a Christmas Pageant which is like a huge parade for the children to welcome Santa to town. He is preceded by many floats of fairy tales and clowns and all that is for the children to enjoy. When Santa arrives in his sleigh with is reinder all the children cheer and wave with joy. This usually takes place in November and then Santa takes up his place in the big store in the city in a place called the Magic Cave and all the mums take their children in to visit with Santa and to enjoy the cave, it is truly wonderful because all the little elves are there working away at making the toys and there are rides on reindeer, not real ones, and two big horses called Nipper and Nimble. The tradition of these horses it that each year there is a little girl chosen as the fairy princess of the pageant and a young lady as the Fairy Queen and they sit on top of those two horses during the pageant parade and wave to all the children. They are usually the ones to lead Santa and his reindeer into town. It is really beautiful and the costumes are so pretty. Rain or shine that parade goes on every year without fail and the streets of Adelaide are packed with parents and children of all ages.
A little footnote too is my daughter told me that my little niece Kirra was the fairy princess this year. That would have been something for me to see and I am so sad that I wasn't there this year. Kirra is my deceased older brother's grand daughter, he would have been so proud had he been there to see her.
 

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We don't do that in the deep south. I guess I'd better not speak for the rest of the US. We are so big that everybody does things differently. We tend to have pecan pie, pumpkin pie, mincemeat pie, gingerbread, etc. I really love hearing about the customs in Australia. I'd love to hear about other countries, as well as other parts of the US.

Do you exchange gifts mostly on Christmas Day, or do you have another day like the Brits have Boxing Day?

PS. We make lots of goodies during the holiday season: fudge, and cookies of all sorts.
 

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Wait! I have a foolproof fudge recipe. You just have to use a candy thermometer. Do you have one and can you buy marshmellow creme in Australia? I am going to bed since I have to take Sassy to the doctor tomorrow. Let me know and I'll send it to you. You can do this! You just need that thermometer.
 

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My mom was born in Germany and came over to America as a little girl so we still celebrate xmas somewhat German style. In Germany they exchange presents on Christmas Eve.... and Christmas day is a day for church. Well... we celebrate xmas with my mom's side of the family xmas eve.... and then xmas day we do the morning santa thing with my parents and my sister.... and at night we go to my dad's side of the family for dinner and present exchange. My mom's side of the family from Germany is becoming very small... they are all dying off...
...and half of the family still lives in Germany... but we used to have a big xmas eve night... my grandmother used to make lots and lots of cookies and we had lots of german sweets...and german lunch meats were our dinner... my grandfather used to have german xmas music on and it was a great time...
I kinda miss it... There is always one thing I will never forget... Germans are LOUD! There was always a verbal fight of some kind... and no one knows how to talk quietly.. haha...
 

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I would love the recipe thanks so much.
I have the thermometer but Marshmallow creme is an American product
However I did a search and I found a recipe for making Marshmallow creme and a few sites said mini marshmallows could be substituted for the marshmallow creme.........Does that sound right?[/B]
This recipe is from the back of the Kraft Marshmellow creme jar. We've been using it for years. Their new recipe is slightly different from the old ones, so I'm giving you the one we've been using. Their website says that you can substitute 10 oz of large Jet puffed marshmellows or 10.5 oz of the mini marshmellows.

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup margarine or butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk (we use evaporated skim; do NOT use sweetened condensed - must be evaporated)
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1 jar (7 oz) Marshmellow creme
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans (walnuts will also work)

In a 3 quart saucepan, heat sugar, butter and milk until it comes to a rolling boil over medium heat. Stir constantly. Continue boiling and stirring until candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees F. This will easily scorch, so you must stir the entire time. Make sure the heat isn't too high! Remove from heat and stir in the marshmellow creme and chocolate until melted. The color will darken the more it is stirred. Then add the vanilla and the nuts and spread into a buttered casserole dish or 9" square foil pan.

I have only had this fail if I tried to step away and didn't keep stirring. Watch the candy thermometer. It is better to be a little under the temp (232 or 233) than over. Once the temp begins rising it gets "done" very quickly.
 

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How much does it cost to send something from the US to AU? Don't pay the $10. I could send you 4 jars of the stuff if it wouldn't cost an arm and a leg in postage. I think I pay about $1 for a jar. Just give me enough lead time to get it there. And, you should know that the shelf life on Marshmellow Creme is only about a year. After that it separates and the fudge is kind of flat.

But in any case, so glad it worked for you! We love lots of nuts so I sometimes add extras of those.
 

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I would love the recipe thanks so much.
I have the thermometer but Marshmallow creme is an American product
However I did a search and I found a recipe for making Marshmallow creme and a few sites said mini marshmallows could be substituted for the marshmallow creme.........Does that sound right?[/B]
This recipe is from the back of the Kraft Marshmellow creme jar. We've been using it for years. Their new recipe is slightly different from the old ones, so I'm giving you the one we've been using. Their website says that you can substitute 10 oz of large Jet puffed marshmellows or 10.5 oz of the mini marshmellows.

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup margarine or butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk (we use evaporated skim; do NOT use sweetened condensed - must be evaporated)
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1 jar (7 oz) Marshmellow creme
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans (walnuts will also work)

In a 3 quart saucepan, heat sugar, butter and milk until it comes to a rolling boil over medium heat. Stir constantly. Continue boiling and stirring until candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees F. This will easily scorch, so you must stir the entire time. Make sure the heat isn't too high! Remove from heat and stir in the marshmellow creme and chocolate until melted. The color will darken the more it is stirred. Then add the vanilla and the nuts and spread into a buttered casserole dish or 9" square foil pan.

I have only had this fail if I tried to step away and didn't keep stirring. Watch the candy thermometer. It is better to be a little under the temp (232 or 233) than over. Once the temp begins rising it gets "done" very quickly.
[/B]

I make this fudge, but I don't use a candy thermometer. Once it starts to boil, I boil it (stirring constantly) for 5-6 minutes. Works every time!
 
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