CHRISTMAS My Way

December 4, 2016

There’s nothing like the festive season for bringing families and friends together. Whether it’s a barbecue by the beach or gathering round a dinner table laden with all the treats and trimmings, everyone celebrates Christmas in their own special way. 


intouch Magazine has taken a sneak peek behind the Santa stockings of a few of the region’s most well-known residents to find out just how they plan on making merry this Christmas.

 

JOEL GRIFFITHS

The former Newcastle Jets striker and Golden Boot winner made the dream of every Hunter football fan come true when he helped his teammates clinch the 2007-08 A-League title. Now he spends his time making Hunter homeowners happy after swapping the football field for life as a mortgage broker with Aussie Home Loans, The Junction.


Where do you celebrate Christmas and who do you celebrate with? What is a traditional “normal” Christmas Day for you? This year we will spend Christmas in Brisbane, most of my family live up there and we normally take turns, this year it is their turn. Normal Chrissy would be around family, opening presents and eating way too much. Love it.

 

Turkey and ham are the mainstay Christmas meats - which do you favour and why? Wow, that’s a tough one, I can’t neglect either of them, it’s a dead set dead heat.

 

What else is usually on your Christmas menu and what is your favourite festive food to indulge in? Prawns are a must, must leave some room for dessert, though, not fussy when that comes around.

 

Do you have any particular Christmas family traditions? Santa makes a surprise entry, I’ve been in that suit before but will think twice pending the Brisbane weather.


What’s either your 1) most special OR 2) craziest (you choose) Christmas memory? Most special would be spending Christmas with your kids for the first time, nothing beats Christmas morning when they run into your bedroom at first light yelling “Santa has come.”


If you could make any changes to Christmas traditions what would they be? Compulsory that you leave Santa a present.


If you could invite one extra guest to Christmas this year - who would it be (dead or alive)? It would have to be the birthday boy (Jesus), I would throw him one hell of a birthday bash.

 

Lake Macquarie City Council Lord Mayor Councillor KAY FRASER

This will be Cr Fraser’s first festive season wearing the Lord Mayor’s robes after she was voted into the top job at Lake Macquarie City Council during the September Local Government elections.

 

Where do you celebrate Christmas and who do you celebrate with? What is a traditional “normal” Christmas Day for you? We rotate Christmas celebrations around the homes of family members – this year is my turn to host. It is a very traditional sort of Christmas. This year we will have four generations represented, with my grandchildren and two of their great grandparents.

 

Turkey and ham are the mainstay Christmas meats - which do you favour and why? We have all the traditional meats and trimmings and they are all lovely – but I don’t think you can go past ham as a Christmas treat.

 

What else is usually on your Christmas menu and what is your favourite festive food to indulge in? We all contribute to lunch and my Chinese sister-in-law, Ying, always brings something a bit different and non-traditional to the table, like spring rolls or Asian fritters. Her dishes are always fresh and delicious. And my Italian mother-in-law, Dea, is a fantastic cook. Her tiramisu and rice salad are to die for.

 

Do you have any particular Christmas family traditions? We like to play darts and cards after lunch or have a round of Balderdash.

 

What’s either your 1) most special OR 2) craziest (you choose) Christmas memory? About 10 years ago we had a Christmas lunch at my house where all of my siblings were present. I am the youngest of five, and we are all scattered now – two are in living in Queensland and one in Sydney – so it is difficult for us all to get together at Christmas. That was a very special year. 


If you could make any changes to Christmas traditions what would they be? I wish there was less pressure to buy presents and spend money and more emphasis on families and loved ones being together and reconnecting. Exchanging gifts is lovely, but it shouldn’t be the focus of Christmas and buying presents certainly shouldn’t cause hardship and stress. 


If you could invite one extra guest to Christmas this year - who would it be (dead or alive)? I think it would be nice to have the opportunity to welcome someone into your home who didn’t have family or friends to share their Christmas Day.

 

 CATHERINE BRITT & JAMES BEVERLEY

It’s been a hell of a year for Newcastle singer songwriter Catherine Britt, who celebrated her fight against and triumph over breast cancer with a series of concerts, picked up her third Female Artist of the Year award at the Golden Guitars and launched into the world of publishing with husband James Beverley after taking over respected music publication Rhythms Magazine.


Where do you celebrate Christmas and who do you celebrate with? What is a traditional “normal” Christmas Day for you? We celebrate with our families, the morning is spent at home with just us and our pup, then off to the Britt’s for Christmas lunch and then to the Beverley’s for Christmas dinner.


Turkey and ham are the mainstay Christmas meats - which do you favour and why? Christmas ham all the way!!!! You can’t beat a soft, fresh bakery roll with ham off the bone, perfect summer lunch.


What else is usually on your Christmas menu and what is your favourite festive food to indulge in? We always have prawns and my sister-in-law’s famous egg nog.


Do you have any particular Christmas family traditions? I always get the guitar out at the end of the night as we have a big family sing-along.


What’s either your 1) most special OR 2) craziest (you choose) Christmas memory? The first year I spent Christmas with my husband’s family, it was so special to be brought into their family Christmas and be a part of a beautiful new family.


If you could make any changes to Christmas traditions what would they be? Put the Christmas tree up earlier!!! Haha.


If you could invite one extra guest to Christmas this year - who would it be (dead or alive)? Hank Williams,  I just wanna hear him sing to me :)

 

 TANYA WILKS

Tanya Wilks has been one of the most recognisable voices on the Hunter’s airwaves for more than two decades and these days spends her mornings serving up news, views and plenty of laughs as one half of KOFM’S popular breakfast team alongside Steve G. 


Where do you celebrate Christmas and who do you celebrate with? What is a traditional “normal” Christmas Day for you? When we are in Australia I always have the family to me, but every couple of years we have an Irish Christmas with my husband’s family in Dublin, with mulled wine, turkey and all the crazy, cold trimmings a European Christmas demands. In Oz every Christmas morning we join a bunch of our friends at Newcastle Beach for an early morning BBQ breakfast. Gav (who is a life saver at Newie amongst other things) cooks the BBQ while the kids swim and we wrap up mid-morning to drift off to our various family celebrations.

 

Turkey and ham are the mainstay Christmas meats - which do you favour and why? On the menu, EVERY year for lunch, is a baked ham complete with the diamond-studded patterned cloves and roast turkey.

 

What else is usually on your Christmas menu and what is your favourite festive food to indulge in? Another tradition is to serve my spinach and feta pie, which is made whilst my dad and my son peel the prawns together - a job they have done together for over a decade. I love the traditions of our Christmas.

 

Do you have any particular Christmas family traditions? Once lunch is done everyone plays the new Christmas board game (Santa always leaves a new board game for us).

 

What’s either your 1) most special OR 2) craziest (you choose) Christmas memory? My favourite Christmas memory is absolutely every one of them, but one of the craziest memories is the year we took my son’s new surfboard to Nobbys, but Santa forgot to leave a leg rope, so we improvised with the dog’s lead. Unfortunately, Dr Chris Brown (our fav pet vet) saw it and being the keen surfer he is didn’t appear too impressed. 


If you could make any changes to Christmas traditions what would they be? If I could change just one thing about Christmas, it would be that Christmas carollers visit everyone’s house on Christmas Eve and sing us to sleep - just like in those snow-filled sappy Hollywood Christmas movies!!!


If you could invite one extra guest to Christmas this year - who would it be (dead or alive)? If
I could ask one person to Christmas lunch it would be definitely Jesus - yes he’s the  reason for the season, but it’s also the perfect excuse to add a birthday cake to the menu!!

 

 LYN BOWTELL

She started the year with a new collaboration and the release of their first album Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart (recorded with Kevin Bennett and Felicity Urquhart), but the end of 2016 has been a far cruisier affair for Hunter-based country music singer songwriter Lyn Bowtell. The three-time Golden Guitar winner spent a week on board a luxurious Royal Caribbean cruise liner sailing around the South Pacific for what’s billed as Australia’s biggest country music festival at sea – Cruisin Country.

 

Where do you celebrate Christmas and who do you celebrate with? What is a traditional “normal” Christmas Day for you? This Christmas I’ll be heading home to red dirt Queensland to spend time in the bush with my beautiful family... Christmas Day will be spent fighting a losing battle against my mother’s over-catering.

 

Turkey and ham are the mainstay Christmas meats - which do you favour and why? My eldest brother makes fantastic home-smoked ham, so that’s the winner for me.

 

What else is usually on your Christmas menu and what is your favourite festive food to indulge in? Mum always makes Christmas pudding, it’s rich and decadent and hides a scattering of silver coins, which are apparently for luck... unless you bite down on one!

 

Do you have any particular Christmas family traditions? Arguments, tantrums, hugs and games of cards… the children can sometimes be difficult too.

 

What’s either your 1) most special OR 2) craziest (you choose) Christmas memory? My most special memories are of waking early and spending an hour or so of quiet time with my Dad at the kitchen table before the rest of the household got up. Now that he’s gone I cherish them more than ever.

 

If you could make any changes to Christmas traditions what would they be? I’d like to see Christmas remain true to its original traditions and values, of family and friendship… and discard the consumerist nonsense that surrounds it these days.

 

If you could invite one extra guest to Christmas this year - who would it be (dead or alive)? I’d invite Anne Murray around to sing my favourite Christmas album Christmas Wishes ... I torture my family with it on repeat every year so it would be even more special for them to hear it performed in person.

 

 RICHARD JONES

It was a milestone year for Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service CEO Richard Jones in 2016 as he celebrated 21 years at the helm of the Hunter’s most loved and trusted home grown emergency service.


Where do you celebrate Christmas and who do you celebrate with? What is a traditional “normal” Christmas Day for you? Christmas at home. It’s a crazy time to travel. It’s much nicer and a lot easier at home with only a few family  members in town - so it’s also a great time to relax.

 

Turkey and ham are the mainstay Christmas meats - which do you favour and why? That’s a no-brainer - ham always (we give the staff one for Christmas each year!!). Always good, but love it cold and happy if there is seafood added.


What else is usually on your Christmas menu and what is your favourite festive food to indulge in? Seafood, and lots of chocolate-coated macadamias (if my brother from up north comes good!), otherwise chocolate-coated peanuts.

 

Do you have any particular Christmas family traditions? No traditions - just good food, wine and people.

 

What’s either your 1) most special OR 2) craziest (you choose) Christmas memory? Memories are of family and games in the pool. Craziest moments – no, after a busy year we are too tired to be crazy.


If you could make any changes to Christmas traditions what would they be? I’d change the weather! Not too hot, a bit of rain, early 20s temperature.


If you could invite one extra guest to Christmas this year - who would it be (dead or alive)? I
will need two extras. Mum and Dad (Dad knows where the good wine is hidden!).

 

 BRIAN AND JO LIZOTTE

They spend their lives surrounded by good food and great music as the founders and owners of the Lizotte’s restaurants, so there’s little doubt there’ll be something tasty cooking in the kitchen and a few tunes to keep the mood festive and bright throughout the silly season. 


Where do you celebrate Christmas and who do you celebrate with? What is a traditional “normal” Christmas Day for you? We start our Christmas celebrations with all our customers and the artists helping them to celebrate. Then “our” Christmas day is spent with our two daughters Sammy and Emelie and family, usually either in Sydney, New Zealand or Tasmania. We spread ourselves around from year to year. 


Turkey and ham are the mainstay Christmas meats - which do you favour and why? Each Christmas is so different as our family is so diverse in their cultures and traditions. We often say “Oh this year we’re just going to have prawns and rolls down on the beach!!!” I think this has happened twice in the 27 years we have been together!!!! We get caught up in the vibrancy and excitement of the Christmas buzz and all that comes with it. There are no real favourites. And it really is the only time of the year where you eat and drink whatever without too much questioning… until about 2pm in the afternoon!

 

What else is usually on your Christmas menu and what is your favourite festive food to indulge in? Last year we were in New Zealand and apart from all the usual turkey, ham, pavlova, etc. we had an ocean of lobster all caught from Raglan by Jo’s nephew. I have never turned lobster down before but it seriously got to the stage where I couldn’t even look at it. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lemon and coconut milk marinated fresh fish, carpaccio. A gazillion different salads, veggies, tiramisu, Christmas pudd… oh and just a little bit of wine! One year in New Zealand we had a hungi. That was interesting. The men got up about 6am to a compulsory beer and shovel to go and dig the hole. Believe me, it is a lot more involved than I realised. The stones had to be the right ones, baskets for the food, the food had to be wrapped in proper cotton cloth and then it had to cook for hours.

 

Do you have any particular Christmas family traditions? To prioritise it as family time to be with each other, eat, drink and be merry and share the day.

 

What’s either your 1) most special OR 2) craziest (you choose) Christmas memory? Most beautiful memories are when our girls were little and driving to see Christmas lights and decorating the tree and house. Seeing their faces after Santa had been. But there are two most special Christmas occasions that I feel blessed to have had. One was with Jo’s dad Bob when he was very unwell with cancer, and we all knew this was his last one. We were in New Zealand with all of his children and grandchildren around him. He knew it, and we knew it. Then just two years ago we were in Tasmania at my brother Michael’s with his family and my dear Dad Hank, who we did not realise would be his last Christmas. He was in fine form and he was just so much at peace and loving the day. He passed two months later. I shall be forever grateful that we were there with him for his last Christmas.

 

If you could make any changes to Christmas traditions what would they be? I could be really cliché here and say to be not so much about the gifts, but my experience is that this is a natural progression when your children grow up. I don’t care for the gifts. I just want to be with our girls and family and friends.

 

If you could invite one extra guest to Christmas this year - who would it be (dead or alive)? Not one but three: Therese my mum, Hank my Dad and Bob my father-in-law, all of whom are no longer with us. Then every single family member from both sides of our families and there would be more food and wine than any of us could consume.

 

Please reload

intouch Magazine May 2020.png
Today's Local News

Additional upgrades for streets around Hunter St Mall

May 27, 2020

1/20
Please reload

Covid-Collage-v2.gif
InTouch_Square_App_Apr2020.jpg
intouch THIS MONTH
Please reload