Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories



Thomas MacEntee from Geneabloggers writes:

What are your memories of your family putting up the Christmas tree? Many of us come from different traditions: some people won’t put up their tree until after Thanksgiving or even on Christmas Eve? Some like live trees and actually go out into the woods to cut their own while others prefer the convenience of an artificial tree.
Write about anything related to Christmas trees and your memories of Christmases past.

When I was a child, we would buy our Christmas trees from the Scouts Association.  My mother would always insist on the tallest fattest tree my father could find.  Sometimes this meant getting two trees and tying them together.  The tree would be tied to the roof of the car and then, when we got home,  there would be the great exercise of potting it and making sure it would stay upright. Sometimes it would be too big and my father would have to cut some off the bottom.





We had three cats when I was growing up and they thought Christmas was fantastic.  They had so many baubles to play with and sometimes a tree to run up if they were feeling particularly excitable.

A real tree always smells fantastic and I miss having a real one dreadfully.  It just isn't Christmas really without one.

When we bought our first house I bought a huge fake Christmas tree from David Jones at Toowong.  Every year I would buy a new decoration or two for it.  

Children came along soon after and that made Christmas even more special.


After 20 years the fake tree began to look old and tatty.  We bought a white one to replace it but it went yellow after being in a hot attic for 12 months. 






 Now I have a teensy green one with led lights constantly changing colour.  It's a bit pathetic really. 

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.


Thomas MacEntee from Geneabloggers says:

Do you still send Christmas cards or has electronic communication taken the place of this tradition? Do you remember sending Christmas cards as a child – making a list, sending out your family’s cards and then checking the mailbox for cards sent to your family? How did your family display the cards?

I just love Christmas cards.  I know they're not environmentally friendly and I shouldn't still be sending them but I enjoy choosing a design as well as sending and receiving them.  I try to choose cards that support charities - UNICEF used to be a favourite, for example.  This year I am supporting a mix of Kids Helpline, Children's Hospital Foundations Australia and the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists.

Every year I curse myself for the "trouble" and wonder why on earth I do it.  I send out about 50 and my hand gets very tired from all the writing.  

In the past few years I've included a newsletter bulletin too with some highlights from the year. I was worried that it was boring but I got into trouble one year with Great Aunt Alice when I didn't send it out.  She missed catching up on all the news, bless her.

Last year I created my own cards online using Mixbook which was a lot of fun and highly successful.  Having said that, the cards weren't standard post office size so ended up costing a fortune to post. Grrrr.  I'm a bit wiser this year and checked the packet to make sure that it conforms to restrictions.



Great Uncles Charles and Great Aunt Win Blanchard with Win's sister Grace and husband Stanley c1963 note the Christmas cards on the mantelpiece


I can't remember how our family used to display Christmas cards.  I suspect on a mantelpiece or strung across the fireplace with string. But that was when we lived in colder climes.  

We don't have a fireplace in sunny hot Queensland.  At first we used to have them strung up over the curtains but they would blow down in the breeze. Now we have some string hooked up under our kitchen bench so that when people walk into our family/kitchen area they can see them there.   

A very popular spot in many Australian homes is to keep them tucked into Venetian blinds.  


Christmas cards have been a tradition in our family for many years.  The oldest card I have dates from 100 years ago.  Here are some pictures of it. It was from my grandmother's parents to their friends and family from their home in Parsley Bay, Sydney during WW1.  My paternal grandmother's maiden name was Carrett.




The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.


Thomas MacEntee from Advent Calendar Geneabloggers says:

Christmas carols, church music and even more modern novelty songs are all a big part of our Christmas memories. What songs were your favorites as a child and are they still your favorites or do you have new ones? What about your parents or family members – were there certain songs or types of Christmas music played during the season? And how would you describe the type of Christmas music you like?
I do like a bit of refined music at Christmas, so I do.  After shopping in malls over the Christmas period, one rather tires of Bing Crosby et al. 

I still have my father's old records (as pictured above) which used to be brought out every Christmas. 

So for me, I do like a bit of Handel and a bit of organ music....sprinkled with a a few, nay a lot, of choristers, and I'm in heaven.

In fact I'm off to hear Handel's Messiah this weekend at QPAC.

You can enjoy King's College Cambridge doing their version below.  What's not to like?



The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.




Thomas MacEntee from Advent Calendar Geneabloggers says:

Some families string up a few lights each year while others go nuclear and are destined to force their neighbors into a brown out situation. Did your family put up lights and outdoor decorations around Christmas time? What about the neighbors? And was it a favorite family activity to drive around to look at Christmas lights? What about any local attractions such as parks, zoos and the like which put up displays of lights and outdoor decorations?

In my childhood, Christmas lights were really only placed on the tree.  There was often a lot of cursing as one or two bulbs were inevitably broken which meant none of them worked and you had to figure out which bulb was causing all the trouble.

Now we string lights up out the back around the patio as well as some fairy lights out the front over the carport.

But nothing major.  Just a token gesture really.

There is a Christmas lights competition held every year by a local commercial radio station.  When the kids were little we would drive them around to have a look.  My favourite was a house not far from our street which had Santa in a sleigh on the roof and the most enormous pine tree with a star on top. Really spectacular and awe-inspiring.  I think the owners have moved and the new ones don't do it anymore.  A shame really.

One year we drove an English visitor around to check out the lights in the suburb.  She was a dear little thing...quite a young adult and very passionate about animal rights et al.  She was quite restrained until a particularly outstanding display brought forth from her lips the very quaint English expression:

"Oh my giddy aunt!". 

Classic!

One former work colleague of mine, a sound designer, has gone all out this year.  I think she and her partner received a commendation in the 4KQ awards.  You can check out their work here.





I think this picture I found on Flickr perfectly captures what Christmas lights are for me.  Something simple.  A bit of magic or treasure shining forth in the green.


We are having fun at work this week seeing the reactions of the kids to the Christmas trees in the library.  Little children cry out in delight as they walk in and rush to give our statue of Santa a big hug.  One little girl (who is obviously just learning to talk) walked around the library in delight for about an hour saying "Santa!" to all and sundry, just in case we'd missed him. Bless.  

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com. 
Alex with ham on Straddie (Stradbroke Island) 1999

Thomas MacEntee of Advent Calendar Geneabloggers says:

 The smell of cookies baking in the oven or perhaps mulled wine on the stove top. What are your favorite recipes during Christmastime? Are they different than the Christmas foods your mother made? What about your ancestors – what were their favorite recipes and Christmas foods? Share your favorite recipe and the story behind it.

Ah the Christmas Ham recipe!

How much agony that has caused us over the years!

"Have you seen your Mother's Christmas ham recipe?" asked my father one year "I'm sure I gave it to you..."  

"No, I gave it back didn't I?"

"Maybe I left it on Straddie....or did I give it to Faith?"

and so it used to go.....Where was the wretched ham recipe?

Well we found it - eventually - every year.  

And I present it to you for your benefit.  Best...ham...ever....sketch by my mother...bless.







The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com. 
Children climbing on Santa's flatbed truck to collect presents
Alex and Deborah at NCDC Christmas Party c1968
Thomas MacEntee says:
Today is the Feast of Saint Nicholas and the origin of Santa Claus. What are your memories of Santa Claus and waiting for him to come at Christmas? What does Santa mean to you today and how do you pass along that meaning to family and to others?
Ah the excitement of Christmas!  Waiting for Santa.  Wishing you could go to sleep but being too excited to do so.  

The photo above is of me and my friend Deborah at the NCDC Christmas party in Canberra in about 1968.  Our fathers worked for the NCDC at the time - now called the National Capital Authority.  I'm the one with my back to the camera on the left.  My hair is in a pony tail and I am wearing long sleeved viyella print dress.  Deborah is just behind me with her hair in pigtails facing the camera and looking at our parent's friend Joan and baby Tamara, I think.

The best Christmases were when Deborah and her family would come to stay. We kids got to camp in the garage on fold up beds.  We would put out milk and some mince pies for Santa and a bowl of water and some carrots for the reindeers.

I'm sure I went to see Father Christmas every year at David Jones or some other department store.  I have vague memories of forgetting to ask for what I really wanted.  I think I wrote letters to him too occasionally.  

My family preferred to call him Father Christmas rather than Santa Claus.  Is that an English thing?  When I search Trove for incidences of the phrase "Father Christmas" in comparison to "Santa Claus" in newspapers/magazines, Santa Claus wins hands-down.  Father Christmas, as a phrase, was most prevalent between 1920-1940.  



I love this photo I found of Santa on Flickr at Canberra Airport circa 1929.  If you didn't see the car in the background, I reckon you would think it was taken today, don't you?  Some things never change.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com
a photo of a tv screen in Edinburgh in the early 1960s
A photo of the TV screen in Edinburgh circa 1963

Thomas MacEntee of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:



Whether it is the movie It’s A Wonderful Life or A Charlie Brown Christmas on the telly, what is your favorite television program or movie? What are your memories of first seeing it as a child and did your family have certain traditions related to the show or movie? Are there different versions (such as The Christmas Carol) and have you found modern favorites?
Tell us about your favorite Christmas television program or movie and your memories of Christmases past.

This is such a difficult question to answer because we weren't really into watching movies at Christmas time.  We would always joke about how television was the "worst" during Summer holidays.  It's not the ratings season so only really bad stuff was shown like "The Robe".  If there was anything that we watched on the telly it was probably the Edinburgh Military Tattoo but that was more New Year's Eve yes? 


And of course, in Australia, it is absolutely sacrosanct to watch the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race on Boxing Day.  And then of course, the cricket.





As the years passed of course we got VCRs and now we have DVD players and we can choose what we like.  If I had to choose a movie that had a Christmas theme then it would be Love Actually.  But really I love Amelie so much too that even though it mightn't have a Christmas flavour I would choose to watch it.  My daughter and I are thinking of watching Seinfeld on Christmas day. Sacrilegious I know but chilling out and laughing on Christmas Day...I can't think of anything better.

PS If anyone can tell me what is on the box in that first picture from Edinburgh days circa 1963 I'd be most interested.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com
Barbara McLoughlin with parcel circa 1955

Thomas MacEntee at Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:

For many of us, the focus of the Christmas season isn’t on “things” but on family and friends. Still, we like to give presents – large and small – to those we love. Do you shop during Christmastime or do you shop much earlier in the year to get it out of the way? Have you seen a change in your shopping habits as you’ve gotten older? Do you shop online? Do you participate in Black Friday or Cyber Monday activities? What was Christmas shopping like for your family and ancestors?

Tell us about how you do Christmas shopping and your memories of Christmases past.

As a child growing up my memories of Christmas shopping were about food (how surprising - not!).

Barbara Conner at butcher's in Edinburgh

My mother would always be looking for the biggest turkey she could find...often so big that it wouldn't actually fit in the oven.  There was always a last minute frantic rush to DJs in Market Street to pick up the order.  There were special ingredients to find for things like the Christmas cake.  For example, where could we find the melon and ginger jam or the chow chow preserves for Charmaine Solomon's Traditional Christmas Cake?  Who had the best Christmas crackers that were both tolerable in design terms but also had decent novelties inside?  David Jones' Christmas tree decoration department was a "must".  Not necessarily to purchase, mind, but much enjoyable looking.

I remember standing next to a conveyor belt of brightly wrapped sweets or lollies downstairs in Market Street as well, trying to pick the best ones.  These would be placed in bowls with nuts in the living room. Licorice allsorts were popular too.

I don't remember shopping for presents as a child except for maybe my grandparents.  A pretty nightie for Gran or shoes for Grandad.  The emphasis was on making things - for example, pomanders for my mother which would give me sore thumbs from pressing the cloves into the oranges.  She would often make me a new toy or doll which would be sticking up out of the pillowcase at the end of my bed to greet me on Christmas morning.

I freely confess that Christmas shopping now is usually done at the screaming last minute.  I loathe shopping malls and do my best to avoid them,mostly because of the potential for a scrape in the carpark.  I try and support local shops in shopping strips.  I haven't quite gone over to online shopping yet, though I have purchased the odd thing on Etsy.

We've had some fun in the past shopping at Op Shops or recycling books from home.  

I have tried to make gifts in the past too e.g. jam or sweets or tea cosies but its been a sporadic affair.  

I never feel guilty when shopping in a bookshop though.  Some of my happiest earliest working memories was working in Grahame's bookshop in Sydney when I finished school one Christmas.  I got to help people choose books for friends and family.  They spent, what seemed to me, hundreds of dollars in a snatched lunch hour.  It was pretty fast and furious but lots of fun.







Thomas MacEntee of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:

There’s a movement towards making items for Christmas gifts or even for Christmas decorating. Have you ever made something by hand related to Christmas? What was the item, how was it made and what did you do with the finished product? What about other family members – was or is there anyone who excels at hand-crafted items and giving them as gifts during Christmas?

Tell us about how you do Christmas shopping and your memories of Christmases past.
Working in a public library makes it "de rigeur" that one is familiar with Christmas Craft and all that it entails. Pinterest is a Librarian's best friend.

We've made some fun stuff from old magazines and books.  A couple of years ago I made a wreath for our front door.


I don't feel it is really Christmas unless I have made something by hand but time is always the issue.

As mentioned in previous posts, my mother always insisted that she be given a pomander for Christmas made by my own fair hand.  This is what they looks like if you haven't heard of them before.




The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com



Thomas MacEntee of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:

So many of us have family traditions related to Christmas that we learned as children and we still keep to this day. Do you know how your traditions started – is there a “backstory” to each one? What about starting new traditions – how do you start and then keep the tradition going? Are there any traditions which you disliked and that you refuse to keep?
Tell us about your family’s Christmas traditions and your memories of Christmases past.

It's a bit difficult to think of Christmas traditions as such because we don't really have any.  I always have to look up when I'm supposed to take the tree down because I always forget. 

It used to be a tradition to put coins in the pudding but it's too hot in Queensland to eat pudding so I don't have to worry about that - but I do miss that surprise.  

The Virago group on Librarything has a tradition of Secret Santa every year and I have enjoyed participating in that in the past but I didn't have my act together this year...sob.  Here is a photo of the haul a couple of years ago.




Every year at our family history society we have a hamper for those less fortunate than ourselves and we fill it with tins of food and other goodies and give it to the Salvos.  Most years I turn up at the library and curse myself for forgetting to bring something.  This year I remembered - hoorah!  

The good traditions for me are the ones that involve charity.  I like the tradition we have at work every year of donating new books or $ for books for children.  I like ABC's tradition every year of collecting presents for kids in care.  Those traditions are meaningful and worth keeping.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com 



Thomas MacEntee of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:

There are a variety of activities at Church during Christmastime, and they can vary based on your denomination or church. From the lighting of the Advent Wreath to Midnight Mass or Christmas Eve church services, for many, church is a central focus of the Christmas holiday.
If you are not a church goer, did you grow up in a family that went to church activities during Christmas – what are your memories?
Hmmm.....well let me say up front that we're not church goers.  My family tended to believe that your faith was a private matter.  If we went to church, it was usually to a cathedral for a bit of pomp and circumstance.

When I became a Catholic, in my thirties, I do remember the Priest saying after the service "Will we see you again?".  Obviously I didn't give him a very good impression at the time. My husband is famous for saying the only good Catholic is a lapsed Catholic, so I guess that's what we are.  Apologies to those who have not lapsed.  We don't mean to offend.  

If it's any consolation to those of you who are regular church goers I want you to know that I most vigorously defended St Stephen's Cathedral the last time I was there - which was only maybe a month or so ago.  We were there for a concert given by The Idea of North. My father tried to tell me that it had been re-consecrated Anglican.  We had a fairly stiff discussion about it until I convinced him by showing him the latest newsletter available in the aisles complete with mass times etc.   But I digress.

The photo above is of our local Catholic church - Our Lady of the Rosary at Kenmore.  It's probably changed since this photo was taken by my son back in 2006 (probably for an Art assignment for school or some such).  


It's a sweet church for its time - I'm guessing it was built in the 60s - yep - just checked - 1969 to be precise.  I prefer the inside to the outside and appreciate all the light that the windows allow and the cross-ventilation - so important in our hot climate.

If you really want to know what kind of church I like best go to St John's in Canberra.  I'ts only teeny weeny but...it's my kind of church.  But I digress again.

OLR is a pretty popular church.  I've only been once on Christmas Day. I arrived way too late.  The babies and I, from memory, had to stand at the back. The hymns were up on PowerPoint (which was very thoughtful but being an old-fashioned sort, tended to offend my sensibilities).  I take after my Mother and am a bit old-fashioned.  Truth be known, I wish the service was all in Latin - to add to the mystery.


So there you have it.  Confession done.  That is why I became a Catholic because I always seem to be saying sorry and confessing to things.  

It's always interesting to see other people's churches isn't it?  Even if they have probably been ex-communicated by now.  Cough cough.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com 


Thomas MacEntee of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:

So what side of the tin are you on? Do you love fruitcake or despise it? Do you have a favorite recipe or favorite kind of fruitcake? If you are in the “no” column, do you politely refuse a gift of fruitcake or do you regift it or even recycle it as a door stop or food for the birds?
Many people are passionate about fruitcake and its role during Christmas time. Tell us all about your like or dislike of fruitcake and your memories of Christmases past.
When I married my husband, his best-man/friend's wife gave me her boiled fruit cake recipe.  Robert is rather partial to fruit cake and this was Pat's gift to me to ensure the continuity of our marriage ;)  As a young bride, I tried to mess with various recipes, but this one always comes out trumps, is easy to make and smells divine when it's cooking.  

Robert loves grocery shopping and happily goes to at least two supermarkets a day.  This year, for example, he bought an Aldi christmas cake.  Experience has taught us that Lions' christmas cakes are often the best. The trick is finding the outlet and getting to them before they've all sold out.


This morning's guilty pleasure however was friend Gina's delicious gingerbread man which was given out at our Bookclub's Xmas dinner on Wednesday night. Gina individually decorated each of them with our initials - such thoughtfulness and care.  Bless.  We shared stories of baking in Brisbane's stinking heat last Sunday.  I made biscuits for work.





The madness of trying to make dough in that heat and how we wanted to climb into the fridge with the dough while it was "spelling". 

Have I mentioned that I finally went back to the gym last week in anticipation of all the weight I will be putting on over the next couple of weeks?

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com

Thomas MacEntee of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:

A Christmas pageant, a Secret Santa gift exchange, or a concert singing Christmas carols. There are so many memories of Christmas activities at school that they could fill a book. How did your school celebrate Christmas each year? Were there activities that also involved parents or neighbors?
Tell us about school activities during Christmas and your memories of Christmases past.

I must be getting old because I hardly remember Christmas concerts when I was at school.  I have vague memories of singing in 1st grade at St John's (now called Northside Infants)...a song with the lyrics "Orana to Christmas Day" - you can read the lyrics here.. and listen to John Williamson's fine rendition below.


 



I do remember my kids' Christmas concerts though. Parents often stood outside for hours reaching up on tippy toes trying to catch a glimpse of their darlings on "stage"...wondering if the tropical thunderstorm was going to ruin the proceedings....and then trying to find them in the dark after the show.  All the excited squealing and running around afterwards.  Yes I remember it well. That's my little angel in the first photo at the top of this post.  What a darling she was and still is.  

And of course every year we would have to try to think of something original to give to the teachers to thank them for all their hard work throughout the year.  This thorny issue is still the cause of some consternation all these years later, as per this recent radio interview.   I guess gift cards are an easy option for parents juggling work and kids (like I used to) but ... in the eyes of the law...it's just too close to bribery for comfort.  Given Queensland's sad history in this regard...better to be seen to be doing the right thing than not.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com


Thomas MacEntee of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:

Any other time of the year, a cookie is a cookie – even homemade ones. But during Christmas, well a cookie is a special treat. Whether it is a Snickerdoodle or a Peanut Butter Blossom or perhaps decorated Spritz cookies, we all have special memories about Christmas cookies.
Tell us about your favorite Christmas cookie (and share a recipe please!) as well as your memories of Christmases past.

I don't normally get excited about biscuits at Christmas...well maybe a bit of shortbread.  

For the first time this year, I made some.  And they seemed to go down quite well at work.  Perhaps I should make more....and perhaps I should ice them next time.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com 



Thomas MacEntee of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:

Do you have unique decorations that you use each Christmas? How did you get them or were they passed down to you from family members? Do you have certain traditions surrounding Christmas decorations such as purchasing one from every state or country you visit? Describe your favorite decorations!
Tell us about your Christmas decorations and your memories of Christmases past.
Let's be honest.  I am a complete sucker when it comes to Christmas decorations.  It will be with great reluctance that I give these latest finds away as gifts this year.


I did decide to keep the birdie though and he is now perched on top of the tree.


One of my colleagues is very talented when it comes to making Christmas decorations...bless her.  Here are some from last year and the one with the spider on it is from this year.


Our thoughts tonight though are with everyone in Martin Place in Sydney and their families.  We are sending positive thoughts your way for a peaceful resolution.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com





Thomas MacEntee from Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:

“Over the river and through the woods” as the song goes . . . Christmas time can often mean travel home or meeting up with family at a special destination. Do you remember traveling back home for Christmas? Were there any trips that standout in your memory? What methods of travel have you used to make the trip home?Tell us about your Christmas travel and your memories of Christmases past.

I don't think there is a transport method we haven't used to get to our Christmas destination.  Well, maybe a bicycle or a donkey.

We have used shanks pony to walk across the creek to my sister-in-law's for Christmas.

We have driven from Brisbane to the Blue Mountains.

I have caught a plane.



Here I am at Mascot Airport with my mother's turkey stuffed firmly under my arm.

We have caught the car ferry to Stradbroke Island for Christmas in years gone by.  You can see the joy in Caspar's face here.  Such a great feeling to get on that ferry and leave the troubles of the world behind you and enter island time.




The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com


Thomas MacEntee of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:

Whether it is A Christmas Carol by Dickens or The Grinch Who Stole Christmas by Suess, we read or heard special stories at Christmastime. What is your favorite story and who wrote it? Do you have a tradition of reading certain stories each year at Christmas?
Tell us about your favorite Christmas stories and your memories of Christmases past.

My favourite story is The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen.  It's not a very cheerful tale but I remember vividly the picture of the little girl outside looking in at the people inside having a great time at Christmas.  The story is actually set on New Year's Eve.  You can get a sense of it here.




A more cheerful story that someone sent me yesterday can be found here




May your Christmas stories be powerful and meaningful.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com


Thomas MacEntee of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:

In addition to Christmas cookies, many families prepared special, once a year treats to share with others. Popcorn balls? Fudge? Caramel corn? What do you remember about these dishes and the activity of making them? Share recipes if you have them or just share your memories of making Christmastime foods.
Tell us about your special Christmas foods and your memories of Christmases past.

Baking.  I should do it more.  Now you think I'm going to tell you that we used to make Fat Rascals every year for Christmas.  We didn't.  I've made them once in my life - for a Welsh friend because it was Wales Day or some such and I thought I'd make a gesture to her Welsh-ness.  I'm only putting a picture of them here because I needed a picture of baking.  Pretty aren't they? If you want a recipe, google it, like I did.  I can't remember what recipe I used to be honest.  Sorry about that.

What we used to bake for Christmas was mince pies and Christmas cake but I haven't got any pictures of those.  I would stand for hours chopping up fruit and reading the recipe out to my increasingly harassed mother.  There would be the obligatory stirring of the mixture by everyone.  Then the mixture (for the mince pies) would sit in a Moccona coffee jar in the pantry for a while to ferment and then I think my father would make the pies.  And dust them with icing sugar. I'm not sure where the recipe came from - I suspect the Aerophos cook book.  Which I can't find.  There is a recipe in the Commonsense Cookbook (1960 edition) though and here it is:

2 ozs sultanas
2 ozs currants
1 oz candied peel
2 ozs brown sugar
1 level tablespoon butter
2 large apples
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
A little grated lemon rind and juice
1/8 teaspoon spice
1/2 lb short crust

  1. Wash and dry fruit
  2. Cut peel finely
  3. Peel, quarter, core and cut apples into dice
  4. Mix fruits, sugar, butter and flavourings together
  5. Divide short crust into two, one piece a little larger than the other
  6. Roll the larger piece out a little larger than the tin
  7. Line the tin with it
  8. Wet round the edge and put fruit mixture in
  9. Roll out the remainder of the pastry
  10. Cover the fruit
  11. Trim pastry, firm edges together
  12. Glaze with white of egg or water and sugar
  13. Bake in a hot over for 15 minutes
  14. Lower heat, cook half an hour longer
  15. Sift icing sugar over top.

Here is a picture of my maternal grandfather and my mother.  See that plate over on the right?  I suspect that had mince pies on it but they've gone - that's how good they were!



So that's my baking story.  What's yours?

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com



Thomas MacEntee of Advent Calendar of Christmas memories says:

In addition to Christmas cookies, many families prepared special, once a year treats to share with others. Popcorn balls? Christmas is a time to give gifts to family members, loved ones and friends as well as neighbors. What is your Christmas gift giving routine? Do you go all out with wrapping paper and ribbon? What types of gifts do you typically give? And what was the best gift you ever received for Christmas?
Tell us about Christmas gifts and your memories of Christmases past.

Well of course in an ideal world I would make everyone presents but I don't make the time/am too lazy.  I have made presents in the past - not always entirely successful but it's the thought that counts yes?

So I try to be original but it gets very difficult - year after year.  I hate giving people gift cards/money but then postage is so expensive these days that it is often more sensible to avoid disappointment and debtors' jail.

I do like to give books (of course).  

The best gift I ever received for Christmas was a real live choir singing me Christmas carols in my living room - that was a pretty special gift from my very good friend, the Queen of the Tea Cosies.  

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com


Thomas MacEntee of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:

Holiday parties, a neighborhood open house, buffets – all these take place in abundance during Christmastime. Do you throw a party each year or did your family throw parties around Christmas? Any special theme like Ugly Christmas Sweater or perhaps a gift wrapping or cookie decorating party?
Tell us about your best Christmas parties and your memories of Christmases past.

I don't remember our family hosting Christmas parties as such.  My father had work Christmas parties featuring Santa for the kids.  You can tell I was having a great time in this photo can't you?  Will I like the present Santa gives me? First world problems, I know, I know.

And then when I grew up, I got to attend my own work Christmas parties where you could dress up and be silly.  I remember walking all the way home from ABC Toowong studios to our house in Taringa dressed as a star and blinking all the way.  Robert was a pudding. Loani was a Christmas tree.



Early on. when we were renting at Carrington Street Rosalie, we used to go to the neighbours' next door for Christmas drinks. We were a household of rowdy "early 20 somethings" and they were very tolerant and patient retirees.  We used to enjoy going to their place for a drink and a laugh.  It's awful but I can't remember their names.  My sister-in-law will remember.  She was the responsible, grown-up member of the household.






Good neighbours are worth their weight in gold aren't they?

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com

Gift from Crystal




Thomas MacEntee of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:

Some wish for specific things while others help make the wishes of others come true. Most of us probably wish for peace, prosperity and good health. Do you have a special Christmas wish that came true, or that you are still waiting to come true? Have you ever helped others fulfill a wish at Christmas?
Tell us about your own Christmas wishes and your memories of Christmases past.

 "Be careful what you wish for", my husband always says.


If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.



When you wish upon a star....

Makes no difference who you are....



Finally an Irish Blessing...



Wishing you always...



Walls for the wind,



A roof for the rain



And tea beside the fire.



Laughter to cheer you,



Those you love near you,





And all that your heart may desire






The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.comThomas MacEntee of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:

Families are often far apart at Christmas or have to make special efforts just to spend Christmas together. The Christmas Homecoming can take many forms, even a virtual one via Skype or a phone call. What are your memories of homecomings at Christmas? If you could have any one family member – present or past – come home for Christmas, who would it be and why?



Here's my lovely Mummy in our then "new" home.  She's holding Caspar, our son.  He was born on Christmas Eve and we moved house the same day.  My waters broke and the removal truck turned up shortly after.  My poor husband, daughter and parents had to do the move without my help.  

Caspar was concentrating on getting out of a different type of "house" and I was trying to help.  

We came home eventually a few days later and had a belated "Christmas" with family and friends. Having Christmas in hospital was quite fun.  Caspar was a caesar baby - just like Bel.  He was a bit late - 3 weeks I think from memory.  We were very pleased to see him when he eventually came out. Although I couldn't stop shaking - the effect of the anaesthetic. 

Our cat, Rambo, was moved too but he was very unsettled - mostly because I wasn't there I think.  He kept going home, looking for me, poor possum.  He wasn't there when I got home and when he didn't return for I think about ten days, I thought we'd lost him.  

And then I heard a meowing one day in the back yard.  He'd finally navigated his way back to the new home (God knows how - I still think it's a miracle) - Our reunion was a bit like Cathy and Heathcliff in the backyard. It was only a distance of 5 kilometres from the old place to the new but there was a freeway between the two.  Here he is, looking rather chuffed with himself and coming over to say hello.  Dear old thing.  He's long gone now.


We look forward to catching up with Caspar via Skype this Christmas as he improves his Japanese in Kyoto.  Miss you mate.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com




Thomas MacEntee of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:

If someone dropped out of the sky and was unfamiliar with the concept of Christmas, how would you explain it to them? Can you put the meaning of Christmas into words? What does Christmas represent to you and is it different than when you grew up or from the meaning it had for your ancestors?
Tell us what Christmas means to you and your memories of Christmases past.

If I wanted to be facetious I could say that the meaning of Christmas was Pudding.

But of course it's so much more than that.  It is the power of an extraordinary story to still captivate people's imagination all these hundreds of years later. Even if they don't believe in the exact details of the story, I think they believe in the sentiments it expresses - love, peace, joy, giving and possibly above all, hope.

Perhaps that is why Christmas can be so fraught - hopes are dashed, expectations aren't met.  It is, after all, just another day.  A day when we often eat too much, drink too much, hope too much.




May you get a little bit of what you need on Christmas Day - a bit of love, a bit of peace, a good story and the joy of giving.

Oh all-right - and a bit of pudding.



Thomas MacEntee of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:

How did you and your family spend Christmas Eve? Did you attend church services, perhaps a children’s service with a pageant? What about food – was there a special meal or did your family hold an open house so friends and family could stop by?
Share your memories of Christmas Eves gone by.

I don't have many strong memories of Christmas Eve apart from my mother being in the kitchen for what seemed forever.  She was often cooking the ham or the pudding until midnight and up early to get the turkey on.  My job was to wash up or help any way I could.  Even if that meant discreetly leaving her so she could have space to think.

Tonight we seem to have carried on that tradition...cooking one enormous chicken for tomorrow and the other chicken will be cooked in the morning. 

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com

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