Remembering Christmases past

As a child I would make myself sick with excitement prior to the day. I remember at age four being told there were two more sleeps before Christmas. Pity I couldn’t count and woke in the early hours of Christmas Eve only to find no presents under the tree.

My dad liked to drink. I remember at age seven us kids having to virtually carry him into the bush to find a tree to chop down and bring back. Two small girls and a drunken man wielding an axe. We came back with ticks all over us, then had to go back to bring our Dad home as he’d fallen asleep. Next day we found Santa had brought us a scooter. Joy oh joy. However when we stood on it, it collapsed in a heap.

We had chooks and Dad would kill one for Christmas lunch. They would separate one from the others and cage it so that it didn’t have a full belly for my mum to clean out. We would feel sorry for it and give it food, similar to the Last Supper I guess. I don’t know why my mother would let us go with him to slaughter it on a stump in the bush. He was half pickled and often let it go after beheading. Poor thing would run around until it dropped, but still that was the way of life back then in the bush. I don’t think it had any detrimental effect on us as I still loved Christmas.

We moved to Sydney when I was 10. I remember the perfume of a certain tree around Christmas time. That perfume always reminds me that Christmas is approaching even after all these years.

My sister and I had boyfriends when I was 15 and she was 14. They went to the same church as us and gave us friendship rings for Christmas after the service. I vividly remember walking home down a hill and we decided to drop them and see which one sounded the tinniest. She lost hers down a drain, but we laughed so much that day silly girls that we were.

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I moved out of home and flatted at 17, my sister started to make her own family and also moved out. We always went home for Christmas. At 25 I was overseas in Scotland on a working holiday. That was the only Christmas I ever spent away from family. My mother was very concerned that I would be lonely, but I had flatmates and fellow backpackers to celebrate with. To this day I persist with my mother’s worries about people who are alone on Christmas day.

Fast forward to my own family.

When my mother could no longer cope with it at her house each of us children took it in turns. I don’t drink much and reserve it for a drink on Christmas day. My children will not let me forget a jigsaw puzzle I was helping them with, very tipsy, laughing and trying to fit a piece where it didn’t belong.

My mother became agoraphobic and would not leave home even for Christmas. We did coax her into it though. She came here with my sister about 15 years ago, but kept asking when it would be time to go. We were sitting in the yard and I could see black clouds to the north. It wasn’t black clouds it was a bushfire. All roads were cut, but she made my sister drive her through burning embers to get home. The rest just bedded down here.

We have continued the tradition of taking it in turns to have Christmas at each sibling’s house. We each bring something. My brother said last year that it would be his last year, yet he is coming to my place this year so hopefully it was just a thought.

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We all have grandchildren and some of the children go to their in laws for Christmas lunch, but that is okay. There will be 19 of us here and I think that is enough. Our parents have passed and it is nice to make your own traditions. No doubt things will change in the future and our children will share the Christmases as we do.
Have a wonderful Christmas everyone.

What are your memories of Christmas growing up? Do you have any Christmas traditions to share?

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