Christmas is a wonderful time to kick up our heels and get together with family and friends. It’s always fun to hear about other people’s Christmas plans, so Julie Houghton asked eight celebrities from the worlds of music, literature, sport and television how they like to celebrate the big day.
Chris Sebastian may have that famous big bro called Guy, but he has carved out a successful performing career in his own right.
“Christmas is one of the few times a year that my whole family is together, so it is truly the highlight of the year. Especially now—being an uncle to the cutest kids on Planet Earth makes it even better. Of course the spiritual aspect of it plays a huge part too.
“At Christmas we have the traditional roast with the sides like most families, but then we have three different curries and noodles. It’s just a whole mess of great food and weird combinations that probably shouldn’t go together!”
Judy Nunn AM was an original cast member of Home and Away and a familiar face on nightly television until she turned her hand to writing. After 14 bestsellers she has just released a new book, Sanctuary, about refugees washed up on a remote Western Australian island.
“Christmas means a time of sharing between family and friends—it’s a special time out together to appreciate what we have between us.
“My favourite past Christmases were those spent with my husband and our family. On Christmas Day we’d head off up the Hawkesbury from our central coast home, drop anchor in a little bay somewhere and the boys would swim ashore to play cricket on the beach. I’d have a bit of a ‘fish’ (rarely catching anything) and we’d gather aboard to eat prawns and oysters, then at night we’d dive into the ‘lucky dip’ box for presents—usually something funny!
“I like to keep things simple, so then it’s the evening fare of ham, chicken, potato salad and various other cold dishes—I’m also not into the northern hemisphere hot meal ‘over-fill’ as my mother was, bless her.
“I’d like to wish all my readers a safe and happy holiday break over the festive season.”
Jonathon Welch AM is a singer, conductor, former Australian of the Year Local Hero and founder of the Choir of Hard Knocks. His life is spent helping those less fortunate and drawing attention to the importance of caring for the have-nots in our community.
“Christmas is a time to reflect and give thanks for all those people I'm so blessed to have in my life including friends, work colleagues and family—especially my two beautiful boys who we now have the honour of bringing up. It is also a time to remember what is really important in life—joy, peace, hope and love. That’s the true spirit of Christmas for me. This year will be the first Christmas we are celebrating with our two boys—my great-nephews aged eight and 10.
“I would like to wish everyone a peaceful and joyous Christmas, hoping that you've all had a wonderful year and are ready to face the challenges of the year ahead with good health, friends and laughter.”
Samantha Jade is a singer, X-Factor star, and ambassador for The Salvation Army’s Christmas Appeal who will be singing in Sydney’s famous Carols in the Domain concert on 17 December.
“Carols in the Domain is my favourite gig of the year. You just can’t match the energy. It’s a very special event. Everybody there is happy, hopeful and excited. You can feel the love radiating from the audience and it’s such a nice feeling to walk out on stage and see all the people singing Christmas carols with their family and friends.
“Family is all I do at Christmas. I go back home to Perth and we sit around on Christmas day, talking about past Christmases and sharing our favourite memories. We spend time together, hang out and play games. It’s the best. Christmas is my favourite day of the year. I have two brothers, so family and food makes a good Christmas.”
Mal Walden is a journalist and retired television newsreader who came into our lounge rooms for a record 43 years before his retirement in 2013. He is the author of The Newsman—60 years of television and the recently released Good News.
“Christmas is a time for reflection. It’s always been a time to be thankful and a time to share the special day with family and loved ones.
“Christmas is a family affair, although these days a much bigger family, and the emphasis is still on children, now that we have the added joy of our first grandson.
“I am also mindful of those who have recently lost someone close and for them Christmas can be a time of immense sadness, but my message to them is to take heart and have faith—for it does get easier.”
Suzanne Shakespeare is an opera singer who has worked extensively in England and returned home to sing with Opera Australia. She grew up in a Salvo family and attends the Salvos in Melbourne with her husband Andrew and toddler Tilly.
“Christmas has always been a time of thanks for me. When my husband and I were in London, we flew home each year to celebrate with our families. We cherished those eight Christmases so much, because we never knew who would be there the next year. Life is so short. I have always been so truly thankful to God for giving us another opportunity to share Christmas with friends and family. And now with my own family, the gratitude is even greater.
“We celebrate with lots of Christmas spirit, lots of giving, eating, thanks and a little bit of Christmas magic! But most importantly we celebrate together.”
Sue Alberti AC is known as ‘The Footy Lady’ (the title of her new biography), and is chair of the Susan Alberti Medical Research Foundation, and the inaugural ambassador of the AFL Women’s League.
“For me, Christmas is Christianity at its best! I love celebrating Christmas with my family, and I hope that at Christmas everyone can be kind and caring to one another.”
Silvie Paladino is a music theatre star and successful recording artist who sings at The Salvation Army’s big Our Christmas Gift concert in Melbourne. She has just released her new album, O Holy Night, with The Salvation Army Melbourne Staff Band.
“I love joining with the Salvos in sharing the wonderful music of Christmas, and singing my favourite carols in a concert which so powerfully presents the true meaning of Christmas with the community of Melbourne.
“The Christmas season is a very busy time for me and I'm sure for many Warcry readers. My wish is that in the midst of the busyness of this Christmas season and with the many gifts that will be given and received, we will all remember the greatest gift that was given to us—Jesus, and it’s his birth we celebrate at Christmas.”