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Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - 24 December - Christmas Eve

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 ht…

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - 23 December - The Meaning of Christmas

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 …

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - 22 December - Christmas Homecoming

Thomas 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 caes…

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - 21 December - Christmas Wishes

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.geneablogg…

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - 20 December - Christmas Parties

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 Christma…

Sepia Saturday 259: Christmas 2014

Alan on Sepia Saturday says:

So here we are, at the end of the fifth year of Sepia Saturday, still going strong, still going sepia. Tradition dictates that we slow things down a little over the festive season with a single call covering both Christmas and New Year. And tradition dictates that it is a festive prompt. So here it is - families, festivities, trees, candles and wine. The image comes from the Flickr stream of the Archives of the Royal Family of Denmark. All you have to do is to post an old image linked to this seasonal theme (or not if you are a Sepia Scrooge) sometime over the festive season and link it to the list here.

Well I may not have the wine but I've got the candles.
Although there is no identifying information on this photo, I am dating it at 1959 chiefly because of the McCalls magazine that my paternal grandmother is holding.  It seems to be a Christmas issue and when I searched online for a McCalls magazine issue cover circa 1959...bingo! ...I found one for sal…

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - 19 December - Christmas Gifts

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 lik…

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - 18 December - Christmas Baking

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 Chr…

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - 17 December - Christmas Stories

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 …

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - 16 December - Christmas Travel

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 …

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - 15 December - Christmas Tree Decorations

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 you…

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 14 - Christmas Cookies

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 

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 13 - Christmas at School

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…

Sepia Saturday 258: 13 December 2014

Alan from Sepia Saturday says: Our Sepia Saturday challenge this weekend is a little different. What we are asking you to do is to forget the foreground and look into the background. Take, for example, this pedestrian snap of my Uncle Harry, Auntie Annie and Unknown Man. The centre of attention is the three figures walking down some seaside promenade, but the interest in such a shot is probably limited to those fascinated by the everyday history of my family (a small and select group of people). But if your move your focus to the background there is a wealth of interest. Note the sailor in uniform, suggesting that this might have been a wartime shot. But there are still cast-iron railings on top of the wall and later in the war all such things were taken down and melted to make gun barrels or some such thing. Look at the hats, look at the sensible shoes : there is enough to keep you busy for a whole Sepia Weekend.
This has been a great exercise for me in working out which photos work be…

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - 12 December - Christmas Cake

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…

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 11 - Christmas at Church

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.  A…

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 10 - Christmas Traditions

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…

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 9 - Christmas Craft

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 Chri…

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - 8 December - Christmas Shopping

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!).


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 li…

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 7 - Christmas Television & Movies

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, …