by Renee Dahlia
The Dahlia family isn’t religious, preferring to pick and choose the parts of any ceremony we want to enjoy. One of my sons decided he was pagan last year (thanks to a book he read at school while learning about other cultures winter solstice ceremonies), and we had fun researching historical foods and traditions. We tend towards the gifting of adventures, not things, to people. Last year we gave our cousins tickets to Treetops Adventures (a rope climbing, zip lining activity). We have given people theatre tickets, movie tickets, zoo entry, go-carting, restaurant bookings, there are many options that can be chosen. For our mob of four children, we tend to organise a big adventure for all of them. One year we went to Tasmania for twelve days, and this year we are driving to Melbourne to spend the day with my sister at her annual Christmas event for her friends who don’t have family, or can’t do family (for whatever reason).
It’s an eighties theme this year, which fits perfectly with our family tradition. Every year, we watch the 1989 movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Our other tradition is to spend December reading Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol aloud together.
Oh, and of course, we love to play cheesy Christmas music in the car and sing at the top of our voices! This one is everyone’s favourite belter:
A favourite from my childhood that I still love today:
For something unusual (Italian electronica featuring a grumpy Santa):
Once voted the most hated Xmas song of all time, this one is quirky and appeals to my sense of humour:
And to finish my top five – simply because she has an incredible voice:
When he goes hunting a thief, he never expects to catch a bluestocking…
Marie had the perfect life plan: she would satisfy her father’s ambition by graduating as one of the first female doctors in Europe, and she would satisfy her mother’s ambition by marrying a very suitable fiancé in a grandiose society ceremony. Only weeks away from completing the former, Marie is mere days away from achieving the latter. But her whole life is thrown into chaos when her fiancé dies, mysteriously returns, and then is shot and killed, and Marie risks her own reputation to save the life of the man falsely accused of the murder.
Gordon, Lord Stanmore, finally tracks down the conman who stole from his estate, only to find himself embroiled in a murder plot. The woman he rescues offers to rescue him in return, by marrying him and providing an alibi. Gordon’s ready agreement to the scheme grows the more time he spends with his new wife. Her wit, her intelligence, her calm, her charm: Gordon finds himself more and more enchanted with this woman he met by mistake. But as the clues to the identity of the murderer start to align with the clues to the thief, they reveal a more elaborate scheme than he could have imagined, and though he might desire Marie, Gordon is unsure if he can trust her.
As their chase leads them out of Amsterdam and into the UK, both Gordon and Marie must adjust to the life that has been thrust upon them and decide if marriage came first, can love come after?