For many families, Christmas is a big deal, and the Chillingworth family is no exception.
My pop, and his siblings were some of the early-drivers of the West Tamworth area (hence Chillingworth Oval, the room at the local club) and Tamworth has always been home. So the big fat jolly man’s arrival means the hoards of cousins come in droves.
Our family spans four generations meaning everywhere you look, they’re everywhere (and can’t fit in a photo, exhibit A, left). Nowadays, kids also litter the backyard in the pool for classic catches and around the dining table.
I am lucky to boast my four grandparents still, so tradition is everything. Nan’s trifle is a staple, so too is my Nan’s banoffee tart on the other side of the family.
The dinner table resembles a sea of food – everything from the traditional ham and turkeys, to seafood, and salads – enough that would feed an army. So much so, that leftovers are the staple dish in the days to follow. As a child, I used to wonder how people could sleep on Christmas day.
We would be rushing from breakfast, sharing presents, scrambling to make the delicious, and way-over-the-top lunch spread, to enjoy one family for lunch. Only to scoff lunch down at 3pm, rush home by 5pm and do it all again with the other side of the family, with the cousins, aunties, uncles and grandparents. Now I know food comas as a real thing, and a 20-minute nap is needed to last the night.
There is a magic to Christmas – first fuelled by mum, and now with kids in the family – and that is what makes it even more special growing older.
It’s not about the presents anymore, but the time shared with family, some of whom we’ve hardly seen throughout the year with kids, or work or hectic lives.
When we’re all together, everyone names the biggest achievement or most memorable moment of the year, and when there’s 40-odd family members, some of the answers are secrets unheard of, in the busy lives we all now live. Facebook or Instagram or Whatsapp mean news spreads, but it’s nothing like the Christmas catch-up.
No two Christmas days have been the same, whether it’s the rain falling, or a boomerang dance last year with 11 cousins or the burnt dish left in the oven. But it’s these memories I will treasure forever.
So wherever you might be celebrating, from my family to yours, Merry Christmas.