Christmas is a time of reflection, especially for my family this year.
In the midst of all the fun and feasting we will remember the ones we lost recently, through illness and old age.
My dearest brother in law Alan finally succumbed to the ravages of his illness after a long battle, courageously fought with every ounce of his strength and willpower, with the wonderful support of his family.
Through it all, he faced it as cheerfully as he could and never asked, "Why me?"
My good friend and former colleague Murray Smith will always be remembered for his wisdom and good counsel.
He always supported and encouraged everything I did, whether it was attending a craft market and buying up big, donating to my son's charity for an injured rugby mate, or joining our annual Chinese New Year dinners.
I shall miss lunching and yum cha-ing with Murray and will have an extra roast pork bun in his memory.
My sister in law Kathleen left us after enjoying what's known as good innings.
She came into our family when I was a baby and I have happy memories of her scrumptious cooking and indulging me with the fanciest party dress I wanted for my birthday.
I am humbled and privileged to have had Alan, Murray and Kathleen in my life.
Christmas gift ideas
I know the shopping malls are going crazy with their 32-hour marathons and it's shop till you drop, with the cash registers ringing louder than the carols in the background.
There's nothing wrong in giving something frivolous and fun as a present, why not?
But, how about making most of your presents meaningful, as well as practical?
Check out the charity websites, such as Oxfam. When you buy something from them, you know you are also helping people in underprivileged countries. In fact most of the gift items at Oxfam shops are made in these countries, providing employment and income for the people.
Or just donate to your favourite charity.
A gift doesn't have to cost money. Why not spend some time with someone who is alone at Christmas or is feeling unhappy? Just being there can help immeasurably.
Buy a diary that supports women every day. Sales from the Australian Women's Health Diary fund breast cancer research and the diary is not only beautiful to look at, but also full of useful advice on when to have health checks, sun safety and much more.
Available at all bookshops and newsagents.
Now for the fun and frivolous part.
A new invention by Winex plans to change the way we drink wine.
The Wine Sipper is a fun new way to drink wine, as well as a conversation piece.
With its three steady legs and inbuilt straw it is the perfect way to sit back and enjoy your favourite glass of wine.
The legs prevent the wine glass from toppling over and the inbuilt straw makes sure you don't miss a single drop.
Available at leading kitchen and homeware retailers, wineries and liquor stores or online at www.purplespoilz.com.au RRP $29.95.
Finally, what would be Christmas without a leg of ham?
Here is a lovely recipe from Australian Pork which I'm going to try.
Kris Kringle's champagne and citrus ham
4-6 kg leg ham (whole or half)
700ml bottle sparkling wine
2 oranges (blood oranges if in season)
1 cup lime or orange marmalade
Pre-heat oven 170°C.
Remove ham from the packaging and gently remove ham rind using a sharp knife.
Score the ham surface into large diamonds using a sharp knife.
Pour sparkling wine into a large deep baking dish.
Slice the citrus fruit into thin slices and place 1 of each of the fruits into the baking dish with the champagne.
Place the ham into the baking dish scored side down and bake in the pre-heated oven at 170°c for 30 minutes.
Remove the ham from the oven and carefully turn the ham scored side up.
Spread the surface with the lime marmalade and lay the remaining citrus slices over the surface decoratively. Return the ham to the oven and continue to cook for a further 30 minutes.
Place ham onto a large serving platter and serve.
Merry Christmas everyone!