In partnership with Pandora
What is a gift, if not a bid at connection? When sisters, Madeleine and Lille Madden, travel anywhere in the world, they're certain to receive a homemade photo album from their grandfather to leaf through while away. Photos serve as personal mementos, whether it's these albums or the snaps in the sister's phone libraries, the pair can return to when their schedules pry them apart. Given Madeleine is routinely filming overseas and Lille juggles multiple roles in conservation and land management, this is a regular occurence. So each year when Christmas rolls around, the Madden family makes the most of the opportunity to head up the coast, "bunker in and be together in one big cluster".
Jewellery, like images, can also moor us to our loved ones. Both in construction and sentiment, they're keepsakes that remind us of the bonds we share and the people we hold dear. It's this, above all, that Pandora embraces with its 2023 holiday collection. Drawing on heart and festive motifs, as well as reimagining the magic of a winter night sky with celestial pieces, Pandora taps into our desire for connection and intimacy and channels it through an offering of necklaces, pendants, earrings and rings this Christmas. Thoughtful and charged with meaning, the collection is designed to be unboxed by our loved ones and worn long after the festive season has concluded.
While on set with Pandora, RUSSH spoke to Madeleine and Lille Madden about their Christmas traditions. The sisters discussed their most memorable gifts, from bootleg DVDs to kittens, and the pieces from Pandora's holiday collection they'd pick for each other. Find our conversation, below.
How did you celebrate Christmas as a kid, what did that look like? And how do you maintain that magic as an adult?
Madeleine: Growing up our mum, our aunties and uncles always made it so special for us. They dressed up, left cookies and milk out – that carried on well into our late teens. But we come from a very big family, and family is a very important part of who we are and our identity. So any excuse where we can come together and celebrate being together is really special for us.
Lille: Christmas is just one of those many occasions we're all fortunate to be close to one another. For a long time we didn't have any nieces or nephews so the attention was solely on us.
MM: I remember new kittens climbing up the Christmas tree and remote control cars zooming around. So we have really fond memories of Christmas. Now we try to reciprocate that magic for the younger ones.
What do your Christmas traditions look like now?
LM: We do have a few little traditions we've introduced, haven't we?
MM: So we round up all of our dogs – we call them the granddogs – and we dress them up. The old dog is Santa, then you have his little elves, helpers, and reindeers.
LM: As far as getting behind it, as Maddie said our mum really made an effort. There was definitely high expectations, especially from us to her. So now that we're a bit older, we're super appreciative of the effort she went to to make it a special occasion, and now it's our turn to share that love.
MM: I think our aunties are also very grateful that there are other adults who can help with the cooking and feeding a village [laughs]. We follow a pretty strict schedule, don't we? The day begins with mimosas and prawns, then present opening, lunch, more present opening, then a swim.
Madeleine wears FAITHFULL THE BRAND vest and trousers; PANDORA jewellery. Lille wears LA COLLECTION trench coat; JORDAN DALAH singlet; ST AGNI trousers; PANDORA jewellery.
What's on the menu for Christmas in your household?
LM: One of the staples is devilled eggs.
MM: Devilled eggs, prawns, obviously turkey and ham.
LM: But then also fresh fruit. I think we're so lucky here to have access to such a wide variety of lovely fruit this time of year.
Who's hosting and what music is playing?
MM: We usually go up the coast.
LM: Our Nan has a place up there, so we usually just bunker in and be together in one big cluster.
MM: We'll either put a playlist together or just throw on a Frank Sinatra radio, which everyone can get behind. Like we need anymore extra sound or noise. It's a really wonderful time and the house feels so full.
You do come from a big family. Is it hard nowadays to get everyone together in one place?
LM: It's nice, everyone makes an effort that time of year to be in the same spot at one time.
MM: We've got a couple of Excel spreadsheets going at the same time. They'll detail who's staying at what time, who's staying in what house and who's bringing what food and drink. So it's very structured. But like Lille said, we make the effort because work can pull us to so many different places at different times, and because we are such a connected family that grew up living quite intimately with each other, that separation can sometimes be, I know for myself, really difficult. The importance of that is definitely not lost on us.
Can you tell me about any gift you've unboxed at Christmas that's left a lasting impact?
MM: Can you tell them about the DVD you got from Nan one year? [laughs]
LM: Oh yes. Such a random one. A really out there gift that does constantly come to mind, which makes me laugh, is from my grandmother. One year she gave me a DVD on how to play the spoons. I don't think I even ended up watching it, it was just a bootleg DVD.
MM: A really special one was probably our cats Pearla and Luca. When we were little getting kittens was very precious and they lived for a very long time. They were definitely a marker of our childhood, they became a lifelong friend and part of the family.
What piece from the Pandora Holiday collection would you gift each other?
MM: I would gift Lille the silver Pandora Moments Studded Chain necklace because, I mean, you picked it up before and you were like "I love this". But it's also just you: very timeless, elegant, and the chain is sturdy and strong.
LM: Great choice. I know I would really like that particularly because of the necklace's construction. A lot of chains are very simple, but this is complex yet also very minimal too. It's a statement in beautiful simplicity.
I think for Maddie, I really like the Pandora Timeless Pave Crossover Dual Band ring because once again, it's simple but when you look closely it catches the eye, particularly the detail.
MM: I approve.
What's unique about your sibling dynamic?
LM: Even though there's lots of siblings, we're all really close. But with Maddie, we're close in age, just over a year apart and–
MM: We've always been really connected. We used to share a room when we were younger and mum would walk in on us having a conversation with each other in our sleep. She would just close the door and think "these kids are crazy but they're asleep so that's good".
LM: When Maddie is filming overseas, you still feel that closeness even if you don't check in as much. And when you do, even after a long period of time, everything's pretty much the same. We keep each other grounded... humble [laughs].
Do you keep any personal mementos of each other for times when you're apart?
LM: We love looking through our photo library which can be very sentimental but also hilarious.
MM: Our grandfather's big on making homemade photo albums where he'll print photos off of his phone and put them into little plastic binders. If you're going anywhere, you'll get a photo album, even if it's just a visit.
Christmas can be a time to take stock of the year. What are you grateful for from 2023?
MM: Every year there's hardships within the family or the outside world and I think the way that we all rally and soldier for each other is really special. If one of us has had a hard year, we've all had a hard year. And so I think just taking stock while being together and enjoying each other's presence is the real present.
Explore the Pandora 2023 holiday collection online and in-store.