Yes. I know that this is a few days late. Over the Christmas weekend I decided to take it easy and not do too much writing. It is good to have a little break from writing every now and then. Instead, I focussed on relaxing and reading. Over recent months I have read some very interesting books, and I will review the best of them here on this site as time permits next year.
This Christmas was unusual in our household. Usually it is a time of gathering the family together for a meal or two (or more) and a time of catching up with relatives we do not get to see very often. This year it was just my wife and me, so our celebrations were very quiet. Our son and his family live in Sydney and that is two days’ drive away, so it is not practical just to ‘pop in’ for a meal. Our daughter is usually home at this time of the year too, but she is teaching in Ethiopia at present. It’s not the easiest to ‘pop in’ from Ethiopia, either. She has escaped for several days with colleagues, enjoying a break at the beach at Mombasa in Kenya.
Late on Christmas Day we had a lovely phone call from our grandchildren in Sydney. They were in a local park trying out their Christmas presents – new scooters. I have many fond memories of Christmas as a child. The celebrations began a few weeks before Christmas with the school concert in the local hall. Here the children in the small town in the South Australian mallee rehearsed and then performed plays, musical items, and gymnastics displays on the small stage.
All the parents came along to this concert, the highlight of the school year. We proudly showed off our best school work for the year on tables and display boards set up around the walls of the hall. At one of these events, I can still remember nervously playing several musical pieces on the piano, my only public musical performance ever. The supper at the end was worth all the hard work in preparation.
Another event I always looked forward to at Christmas time was at the small, local Lutheran church where my family worshipped every week. For the weeks leading up to Christmas we would rehearse the carols and readings to be included in the Christmas Eve service. The Sunday School children would all be seated out the front of the church in front of the large decorated tree in the corner. This was always a native pine from somewhere in the district. It was probably a Callitris preissii, common in the region. It was decorated in the traditional way with tinsel and baubles. It also had little bags of lollies hanging all around, and the children were able to take one each after the service. The tree also had many candle holders with real candles in them. I was always terrified that the whole tree would catch on fire! It never did.
The programme on Christmas Eve always told the story of the first Christmas. This retelling year after year was always something amazing to me. As I grew older the special nature of the story of the Christ-child remained precious to me. We had readings from the well-known accounts of that coming of Jesus, plus soul-stirring renditions of the old familiar hymns and carols. The evening ended with the giving of prizes to every child in the Sunday School. I always looked forward to adding another book to my growing collection.
After the service the adults would gather outside the church in the cool of an Australian summer night. Many of the men gathered here had just a few hours earlier come in from paddocks and the hot, dusty work of reaping wheat or barley crops. They always enjoyed a yarn and telling each other the joys or frustrations of the latest crop, depending on what kind of season they had endured – or enjoyed. While I waited quietly – but always impatiently – for my father and older brothers to be ready to go home, I remember gazing into that great expanse of sky above, star-bright against the black depth of the universe.
Star of wonder, star of night,
Star of Royal Beauty bright.
(See here for all the words to this carol)
I was always impatient to get home after the Christmas Eve service. we had a tradition in our family that presents were to be opened on Christmas Eve after the church service. We changed that to Christmas morning with our own children, and the same applies to our grandchildren.
I would eagerly unwrap my presents, hoping all the time for even more books to add to my library. The next few days were blissful; heaps of delicious food, family visiting often and plenty of time to read, read, read.
May you have a happy and blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year.
to all of my readers.
I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas.
This year our Christmas has been very low key. Just my daughter home for a holiday, and my wife and I. Speaking of my daughter – she surprised us when she came home on Wednesday with a lovely set of three presents for us. In consultation with our son she bought us a new set of three bird baths. Many of the photos which appear on my other site Trevor’s Birding are taken of birds having a drink or a bath, including the photo above taken of a White-browed Woodswallow having a drink. This photo shows the old bird bath. It was taken on a very hot day last week.
Last night I went to the 11:30pm service at our church. This was a very moving service and a great way to see in Christmas Day. This morning we all ventured out again to our church service. Later we cooked up a storm for lunch: roast pork and vegetables on our barbecue. Despite the heat this went well. Today was the hottest Christmas Day we have had in South Australia since 1945. Thankfully our air conditioner coped well.
After our main course my wife served up the Christmas fruit pudding she made yesterday. Together with home made custard it was delicious. While none of us over-indulged, we all tried to read our books during the afternoon but sleepiness got the better of us. We all had a snooze. Thankfully, no noisy children or noisy toys in this household this Christmas. That will change next week when our son and family arrive from Sydney for three weeks.
Dinner was a repeat of lunch with a enough leftovers to go around. It was just as enjoyable as lunch.
Happy Christmas, everyone.
My wife and I are currently staying with our son and daughter-in-law in Sydney. We plan to be here for Christmas and look forward to sharing Christmas with our two little grandchildren, ages 5 and 2 and a half.
A few days ago we all chipped in helping to decorate the Christmas tree. Not one of those artificial ones bought in every shopping centre. No, we have a genuine natural tree bought from the local Scout Group who made them available to the local community.
Then the family gathered around the dining room table to make gingerbread houses. My almost two and a half year old granddaughter decided that it was far more interesting to eat her house straight away. Waiting for over a week to eat it is far too long for a little one.
Five year old grandson however, despite being an extremely active young boy, sat for over an hour with great determination to make the house shown above. We were all so proud of him – and I think he was too.
We don’t have too many special traditions at Christmas time, but I know that many families do.
- Write about the special things you do as a family at Christmas.
- Relate a true happening when everything went wrong.
- Imagine a truly wonderful Christmas; make it into a story or poem.
Christmas Greetings to all of my readers.
I trust that you have had a wonderful day with many blessings and much joy. I spent a quiet but relaxing day with my wife, daughter and mother in law. We had a wonderful Christmas lunch and we didn’t eat too much. The weather wasn’t too hot and I even managed a little snooze in the afternoon, the book I was “reading” resting peacefully on my chest. Late in the afternoon we had a lovely hour chatting to our son, daughter in law and grandson in Sydney via the wonders of Skype. It was amusing seeing our 2yo grandie showing off all of his new toys.
I haven’t posted many articles on this site this year. Now that I’ve completed my Master of Arts Creative Writing degree I will be able to bring you many more interesting and helpful writing hints here on this site. Stay tuned for many exciting events here in 2011 and beyond.