Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Wishing you a very merry christmas!

Today is my last day of working in despatch before Christmas.  There is very little work to do so – time to send you a blog!
The campus is very quiet, the car park empty and all is still covered in snow.   It feels very strange having our Christmas arrangements so unpredictable while we wait to see what the weather will be like.   We cancelled our family get together in West Sussex on Sunday; it seemed mad to try driving so far in such adverse conditions.  Instead I spent the day catching up.  We finally got to writing Christmas cards – yes I know I am really late, especially for Australia!   I find it really difficult to get in the mood and think of what to write any earlier – I like to do all my Christmas stuff in December so it feels really festive and that bloomin’ assignment took up far more time and energy than I wanted.  Writing cards in November to post overseas seems just too early for me!  I finally manage to make edible mince pies that we happily munched while we wrote.
I love the family traditions of Christmas which I have passed onto my own children.   When I was a child, on Christmas Eve my Dad would drive our family into central Melbourne to look at the shop windows.  As we drove the twelve miles, my brother and sisters would have a ‘counting the trees’ competition,  half counting Christmas trees on left side of the road, while the other half counting them on the right. It did get a bit raucous at times!  By the time we reached the city centre we were all very excited and would rush to Myers, the big department store, famous for its Christmas story windows.  We gazed in silence, transfixed by the moving figures and the beautifully constructed scenes.  My parents would have to drag us away bribing us with the promised of special treats when we got home.  We’d count trees on the drive home and then rush in to munch on shortbread, chocolate and mince pies while we prepared the carrot for the reindeer and the brandy for Father Christmas.  Before we went to bed our last task was to select a sock and tie it with sting to the ends of our beds.  As we got older we would play tricks on Santa; hanging a glove, tying a knot in the sock, hanging a pair of tights; all to try and confuse him enough so we’d catch him.  He was so clever, we never managed!
I was once of six children and we always had very simple presents, often home made.  One year Dad built us a playhouse. Our family house was built of wood and rested on stumps set into the ground.  Where the ground sloped away from the front of the house it left a space underneath.  Using second-hand wood, Dad boarded and floored a corner of it to form our playhouse which gave us years of pleasure as we made it into different settings – a shop, a place, a house.  Another year he built us a swing that seated at least two and a see saw,  while for another Christmas he made a set of table and chairs out of fruit packing cases.  All of our dolls’ furniture was made by my brother or my dad while Mum and Grandmas would make us dresses, aprons and petticoats and beautiful doll’s clothes.   My sisters and I learnt to sew and knit and would make each other all sorts of strange gifts! These home -made presents are the ones I remember the best.  They cost so little but were made with such love and care.
After such wonderful reminiscences it is time to come back to the end of 2010 and wish you all

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