In the spirit of Christmas, Greek City Times journalist Georgia Isak cosies up to family with her mother, Fay and sister, Connie, to discuss all things festive. The trio have spent the last 18 years collecting over 1,000 Christmas ornaments from more than 30 different countries. The Isak ladies are finally pulling back the curtain at home to give us a peek inside their very own Christmas wonderland.
GCT: A thousand international decorations and counting! Take us to the beginning ̶ what part of Greece is your family from?
Fay: My father is from Corinth, and my mother is from Tripoli.
Connie: And our dad’s parents are from Crete and Constantinople.
GCT: How did you first start collecting?
Fay: When the girls were very young, I wanted to create a magical Christmas tree for them, and all I had were some simple, unbreakable decorations. As they got older, we started travelling overseas. I thought it would be a nice way to remember our trips by buying a few special Christmas ornaments from each country for our tree.
Georgia: When I started travelling by myself at 19, I went to London, Paris and Athens in December 2009. I asked my mum what gift she wanted, and she asked me to bring back a few Christmas decorations from my travels. So that’s where the love affair started for me. It’s also why I still live at home in my early thirties ̶ I won’t leave my tree behind! [laughs]
GCT: What does Christmas mean to you?
Fay: Definitely about bringing family and friends together to eat and laugh and reflect on our many blessings.
Georgia: Christmas is definitely a time for family and friends, a time for giving and a time for reflecting on the year that’s passed. It’s an opportunity to extend your table to those that may need a bit of extra holiday cheer.
Connie: Other than family and lots of food, we use this time to give back to communities in need. For the last few years, we’ve been giving to the Delphi Bank/Bendigo Bank annual Toy drive to children in hospitals.
GCT: But who’s into Christmas the most?
Fay: Georgia. Definitely. Followed by me.
Connie: Georgia ̶ she starts listening to carols in October. Drives us nuts.
Georgia: Me! [laughs]
GCT: As seasoned veterans, what are your best decorating tips?
Fay: Always put lots of baubles deep in the tree. It creates a 3D effect.
Connie: Lots of lights ̶ the more the merrier.
Georgia: Always put lots and lots of decorations on a tree. Mix and match traditional with quirky, fun, modern decorations. And, for safekeeping, make sure to double-loop the most expensive decorations around each branch, so they don’t accidentally fall off.
Fay again: A few years ago, we got a rotating Christmas stand, which allows us to utilise the whole tree to showcase all our decorations instead of just the front.
GCT: What’s your favourite ornament?
Fay: Oh, that’s a hard one. In 2016 we went to Russia, and we bought four gorgeous bears.
Georgia: I have this mermaid called Maximilian that I bought him in Mykonos in 2016, and I absolutely adore that. I also bought an Alice in Wonderland in a glass teapot from Paris Disney in 2009, which I love.
Connie: Georgia and I were recently in Athens and I bought a matching Christmas mug set from Le Shop, which is so cute. But I have to say, I love all of the Christmas llamas that Georgia has bought from different places around the world for me.
GCT: In your opinion, which country has the best decorations?
Georgia: England. Anything from Harrods or Buckingham Palace.
Fay: It’s England for me too. Russia is a close second.
Connie: America ̶ especially New York City. However, Greece has surprised me.
GCT: Any personal Christmas traditions?
Fay: Preparing a massive Christmas lunch with my mum, and making spanakopita and melomakarona, to name a few things.
Georgia: Every Christmas Eve, we do present opening, a family dinner followed by a Christmas movie. On Christmas Day, we always have a big lunch at our house with family and friends.
Connie: And all food from the festive season gets taken to the Soup Kitchen in Kings Cross.
GCT: It’s definitely easy to get carried away with all the buying and collecting, so Greek City Times celebrates your generous spirit of giving at such a busy time of the year. Merry Christmas!