Christmas Post.

We hope you and yours had a Merry Christmas.

Ours was a wonderful Christmas. Indeed, what I think was my best Christmas in quite a few years. My health is really good. I’ve been in remission for almost 3 years now without having the blood transfusions of IVIG I’d been having every 3 weeks for the preceding 5 years. Finally, I was actually able to raise my head off the tarmac and enjoy take off…yippee!

I obviously don’t know what Christmas was like at your place, but it was chaos at ours. Yet, amidst the multifarious layers of ripped Christmas rap rolling around like tumbleweed underneath the Christmas Tree, there was some structure, tradition and a respect for the true meaning of Christmas.dsc_5189

I won’t go into all of the presents but my husband bought us a double hammock each in a frame for Christmas. This will be great for getting through all the books I gave the rest of the family, some I must confess with a vested interest. After loving The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, I gave my husband The Best of Adam Sharp. Of course, he was cynically wondering whether this book was going to live up to his first two novels. I bought my daughter an intriguing book with some text but largely drawings which had been recommended by my friend’s teenage daughter. My Dad thought the book was a crock and that her “gums were flapping”. However, when it comes to picking a book for my daughter, a girl a couple of years older is a better judge in my mind.

Gee, isn’t Christmas fun?!

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself because we haven’t left the house yet and I’ve accelerated right through Christmas lunch, afternoon tea, the pool, the royal splinter. I’d better watch out. I’m accelerating so fast, that I’m about to get a speeding fine and double demerits are in force. Just as well Santa’s already been, or I’d be at Number 2 on his Naughty List. That is after Lady, who is still sitting at Number 1 after devouring our home-made Christmas Cake last week.

Somehow, we managed to force the front door shut without the rising tide of pre and post Christmas whatsymecallits falling out the door. Actually, make that a tsunami, not that I’m being melodramatic and pushing the limits of exaggeration beyond all credibility. I’d never ever do anything like that!

Our approach to cleaning up for Christmas? Abandon house!

The dogs didn’t even get a bath and did I hear the roar of lawn mowers somewhere in the distance? Well, they mysteriously by-passed our place as well. Then again, you need to have a lawn to mow. I haven’t had time to give our lawn much of an inspection lately, but I think it’s been burned to a crisp. Incinerated by the hot Australian sun… a bit like a snag on a BBQ. They’re supposed to be charcoal, aren’t they?

Next, we all piled in the car to drive down to Sydney via the M1 Freeway.

Every year, we regret leaving late and think about the dream run we would’ve had if only we’d left an hour earlier. However, it turned out that leaving our neck of the woods, was pretty much as bad as it got apart from a small stretch of bumper to bumper traffic right near my aunt’s place. By this stage, the turn off was in sight and we could cope with that. By the way, I’d packed two books by Dodinsky for the trip, and they were done and dusted by the end. Have you ever read Dodinsky? I highly recommend it!

My Dad is one of seven and we celebrate Christmas with his family at my aunt’s place. While you’d be excused for thinking there was no structure or order amongst the throng, our day runs like clockwork. My aunt sets the arrival time and the rest of us operate on our own clock. Yet, we somehow conform to the same routine every year. There are the lunchers, the afternoon tea crowd, the early departures, and the lingerers. Among the cousins, there’s also the turn taking now they’ve got married. My husband’s parents have passed away, so we spend Christmas with my extended family every year. A small Christmas isn’t Christmas to me.

I’m not going to go into a blow-by-blow account of Christmas Day, but there were a few stories worth a special mention.

Firstly, beyond the dinner table, my aunt’s swimmhumouring pool becomes the epicentre of our Christmas. Funny that, because it’s been at least a decade since I last made it into the pool. I did take my swimmers yesterday, which was a step forward. However, for some reason, I couldn’t get in.   Didn’t even try. Although it was a hot day, I seriously didn’t want to get wet. Moreover, I wasn’t too sure about revealing so much of my royal whiteness either. Some things are meant to be left covered up.

However, my kids had a ball in the pool. Two of my cousins do a great job entertaining them every year and there’s loads of rough play, horsing around and they really appreciate their exuberance. Naturally, Geoff and I are always most grateful for this…my parents as well. We are well and truly past all of this and much in need of deck chairs instead.


My cousin approved the use of this photo.

After all my discussions lately about Christmas traditions, Christmas tree decorations and even Christmas Decoration OCD (CDOCD), I thought I’d share my cousin’s addition to the family Christmas Tree. We’re a creative family and a few years ago, my cousin did a course in making theatrical props. By the way, we’re not talking about making sets out of MDF and slapping on a coat of paint either. I don’ t even know what you call it but he make a few hands  and painted them up and over the years, they’ve found their way into the Christmas decorations. So, I wasn’t surprised to spot the hand at the top of the Christmas Tree this year. Apparently, it’s become tradition. I like that because Christmas can become so stiff and stifled by perfectionists getting it uber-right that it’s tied Christmas up in a straight jacket and has no sense of fun. No place for anybody even slightly lateral-minded. This tree was like a celebration of the individual, being yourself and accepted no matter who or what that might be, and almost giving the judgement crew “the bird”.

I’m proud to be a part of this family with all its flotsam and jetsam where we’re all accepted for whoever we are in all our creative or otherwise glory.

So far, we’ve covered the pool and the Christmas tree and next we’re moving onto the royal splinter.

A splinter? How does a splinter become newsworthy?

Well, when my son is involved, even breathing can easily be turned into a drama of epic proportions. Since he was not the recipient of the royal splinter, there was bound to be some form of “interesting” live entertainment. As he’s now almost thirteen years old, it takes more than a small splinter to get the waterworks going. Yet, oh ye of little faith, there was still plenty of scope for drama. Well, he was actually rather restrained, especially for him but there was still the matter of getting the splinter out and not being at home, this was naturally more complicated. We needed implements…needle, tweezers and we were in luck. After my aunt offered to remove the splinter, we announced “we have two doctors in the house, why am I doing this?” So, the royal splinter, which was a couple of millimetres in length and lodged at the very end of his finger behind the fingernail, was to be removed by my uncle the plastic surgeon borrowing my aunt’s reading glasses. My son was in good hands. This uncle is a plastic surgeon who’s known for reattaching and no doubt detaching all sorts of bits and pieces in very extensive operations. Yet, although the royal splinter was obviously well beneath his capabilities, he approached it with the very same thought and concern. We were given a thorough report and advised to apply antiseptic when we arrived home. It was touching to see my uncle at work and appreciate his bedside manner and compassion. That we’re never too big or too great to help out with life’s splinters with love, compassion and respect.

By the time we went back to my parents’ place for “dinner” and presents we were more stuffed than the Christmas turkey itself. So, all I managed to squeeze and I mean SQUEEZE in was a small slice of pudding, with Mum’s homemade hard brandy sauce and equally homemade custard.


Aside from the long drive home, Christmas 2016 was done and dusted. Well, we still had a Gingerbread House to demolish but that could wait.

How was your Christmas? Hope you had a great one but if yours was reflective and touched by sadness, I send my love and hugs. Take care.

Love & Christmas Blessings,



17 thoughts on “Christmas Post.

  1. Rowena Post author

    I think that hand on top of the Christmas Tree would actually make a great artistic installation. I can think of of a few other things you could put on top of the Christmas tree as well as a philosophical exercise. A question mark would my first choice.
    We have a blond Christmas angel playing the violin on the top of our tree. I thinks of it as my violin teacher as it looks very much like her. She looks like a young Cate Blanchette with long, flowing blond hair. She plays the violin like an angel too.

  2. merrildsmith

    I’m glad you had such a lovely Christmas, Rowena. We were busy– a surprise birthday party for me, Christmas Eve at my niece’s house, Christmas Day here with both my daughters and their spouses–and of course, we lit Hanukkah candles, too. Yesterday, younger daughter (who lives nearby) came over to spend a bit more time with her sister and sister’s wife before they flew back to Boston. This is the first day without visitors or visiting, so now I feel that the holiday is over–although we still have tons of Christmas cookies!

  3. Rowena Post author

    Happy Birthday, Merril.
    Geoff is off work until Monday and we’re really trying to do nothing. Well, we are doing a bit of reorganizing.
    However, today the heat is a whopping 42 degrees outside and health warnings have been issued so we’re in the air-conditioned lounge room with the dogs. Well, my daughter and I are. My husband is helping his mate with his Morris Minor and our son keeps turning his laptop up and didn’t appreciate his eviction notice. Holiday fun!
    xx Ro

  4. merrildsmith

    Whoa! I had to look up and convert your temperature. 107.6 F! I can’t even imagine that. I’m glad you have a/c. Even with the a/c, I’m sure it’s hot. It’s a good day to do nothing and eat cold food. It’s cool and rainy here. I think daughter in Boston is getting a snow today.

  5. New Journey

    Your Christmas sounded lovely…swimming, family, good food….love the hand on top of the tree…LOL We had a wonderful time….it started on Christmas day….wonderful ham dinner at my brothers and his wife, right across the street, a couple bottles of champagne and wine, games, to redo it all the next night…and then followed up by more games and cheers the following 2 nights….well I guess I partied to hard as I ended up with a head cold and am still nursing it almost a week later…LOL tomorrow night is New Years Eve…..getting the house ready and us packed to leave on the 2nd for California….Happy New Year to you and all your family…..xxkat

  6. Rowena Post author

    California here you come! That’s where you’re from, isn’t it? Have a great trip back. Sounds like you had a busy Christmas. We are having a quiet NYE watching the fireworks on TV and we might play a board game. Lady was a mess with the fireworks like year and she drooled all over Geoff’s lap so I don’t have great expectations on that front. She’s currently having wild dreams and “talking” in her sleep. Crazy mutt!
    I’ve spent today compiling a list of quotes from stars who died this year. I came up with some brilliant quotes and some of them I’m really going to take on board or work on with the kids. They’re worth printing out. Actually, I’m going to print them out and put them in a glass jar and we’re going to pluck them out. Something different to do.
    There is part of me that would love to be in the city but that was another lifetime ago. It’s not the night to pick as your big night out on the town.
    What are you doing tonight?
    Hope you have a great night. Meanwhile, we’re watching “The Pink Panther” with Steve Martin. Not too sure about it but watching mediocre movies seems quite fitting for NYE. I think Saturday Night Fever shows on TV after midnight. I watched it last year and it’s been showing for something like 30 years.
    Fireworks are starting and so is Lady. No big bangs yet but therapy has begun.
    Hope you have a great night!
    xx Ro

  7. New Journey

    Well its New Years Eve morning here..10am to be precise…I am just having my first cup of java and trying to get a stubborn German to take a couple Tylenol for a sore throat….crazy old man!!! I am going to try to stay awake until midnight….doubtful, but will watch the fireworks on tv as well…We have a house in California, I have lived in Washington state, (my birth state) and Alaska as well….but the last part of my life has been in California…Peter bought this house in 1974 with his previous wife, she came over from Germany with him, her sister and mum lived here…this is the only house he has ever lived in here….he always talked about moving so he’s quite happy here in the eventually we will probably sell the house in California. For know my cousin lives there enjoying the garden and life…Happy New Year…..kat

  8. Rowena Post author

    What was it like living in Alaska? What were you doing there? When I was 10 my teacher had recently returned from Canada and Alaska and showed us slides of the Alaskan alpine flowers. I was spellbound.
    We had some gingerbread house for dessert tonight. Yum. About to get some more. I guess that means I’m in the demolition business. Happy Birthday. Facebook dobbed you in. What are you doing to celebrate or are you celebrated out? Hope you had a great day!
    xx Ro

  9. New Journey

    It was during a crazy time in my life…divorced, just trying to survive, work, take care of my little girl….my parents were visiting Alaska for a month, and my sisters lived there, called me and told me they bought my daughter and I plane tickets to move up and get it in gear…who was I to argue, I had no family here in California, just my Ex….so I packed up what I deemed precious, sold all my antiques that I spent my years collecting, used some to pay off debts, LOL, and headed to Alaska…felt like the right thing to do…I got a job in the only grocery store on the Island, Thompson House, it was owned by a family who had lived there forever….my sisters and there husbands had gone together and bought a shop, tire and tow company, they were both mechanics and my sisters took care of all the paper work…it was great to be all together, the only one missing in the mix was my brother and his wife….that was the last time we were all together as a family, my father passed away 3 months later of a massive heart attack…..I bought a 5th wheel trailer, and my daughter and I moved into it and started our new life together….in Craig Alaska on Prince of Wales Island in the southeastern part of the state… was beautiful and the lupine and Alaska flowers were plentiful along the roads…I lived up on a clearing on the side of hill, my view was water on 3 sides….breath taking actually….the eagles were everywhere, and all you had to do was head up the road to the dump and you would see plenty of brown bears….they didn’t come down into the town….lots of fisherman….it was a hub where the trollers would bring in there catch and out load them at the fish places….was like living in a storybook place on the coast of England…LOL
    I made excellent money at the store, I suppose if I stayed there I would of found something more challenging to work at, however, to sum up the entire reason for moving there, was a feeling I had about my father, I didn’t understand the feeling until later, but the need to see him and be with him was so strong that I couldn’t ignore it…I was able to spend 2 or 3 weeks with him and my mom along with my sisters, it was a fun time, and when they came to say good be to me at work, I hugged them both, however when they were walking away, it was like a magnet pulled me to my dad, I ran up the hill and hugged him as tightly as I could…it surprised him as he wasn’t a hugger but I got a great big hug back and a kiss goodbye…as I told you earlier, 3 months later he was gone from a massive heart attack…I recommend a travel to Alaska, it really is the last frontier, I was able to go to Ketchikan a couple times from the island to just have fun, it really is a touristy town, but holds a lot of history too….we had to drive to the other side of the island 50 minutes on dirt roads, then get on a ferry that took 3.5 hours to journey over to Ketchikan, it was always a journey to get anywhere up there…my one sister and I would take a float plane over and meet the other sister who would bring the car and kids on the ferry and then all ride home together….certainly a different way of living….the dentist showed up on a yacht and had his offices on board….LOL…there was no doctor on the island, just EMT people….there was a vet on the island however…LOL so the animals always had a doctor available…LOL its a lot better now….the roads are all paved and they even have street lights in a couple places, and they put in a small airport in Klawock, a little town about 15 miles from Craig, so if the weather is clear you can take a wheel plane to Ketchikan instead of the ferry…My sister still has property on the island but hasn’t been back…they had a boat when they lived there so it was fun to go out salmon fishing, and the beauty of the other islands were breath taking….after I moved back to the lower 48, I went back several times to visit…my one sister we lost moved to California near me when her and her husband left the island…they sold there property and came south, they were like nomads….there life is another story. as her husband was killed in calif in a vehicle accident, and she remarried several years later and moved North to Montague Ca, tight by Mt. Shasta area…that’s where she passed away…and yes go to Alaska is you can…well worth the journey….Happy New Year

  10. Rowena Post author

    Wow, Kat. What a story and thanks so much for sharing it with you. I am touched. I’m going to need to get a map out and check some of these places out. You’re right about Alaska being the last frontier. That said, there are still places in the Australian outback like that, largely untouched. I’ve driven across the Nullarbour Plain roughly between Adelaide and into Western Australia. That was amazing. Went across for love, which didn’t survive my health problems at the time and I had to move home.

  11. Rowena Post author

    What I remember most clearly is seeing an eagle perched on top of a dead kangaroo out on the Eyre Highway with a road train heading towards it. The eagle lurches forward over the carcass glaring at the truck and only flies away at the last minute. It’s so funny. I wrote a poem at the time about the road being like Pizza Hut for them. We call the road kill “road pizza”. It’s a long drive and you feel like you’re never going to get out of the place but there’s a part of me that misses it, especially the vast expanses of space. The cliffs off the Great Australian Bite are extraordinary. I remember seeing a road train parked on the edge and it looked like a matchbox car.

  12. Rowena Post author

    How inspiring is that. I sit here and all I see is clutter, stuff needing to be done. Time for a nap my friend!
    xx Ro
    PS I should’ve been born as Homer Simpson!

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