When my girls were at Possum Valley I used to make a bit of a fuss about Xmas and follow most of the traditions, however ridiculous and inappropriately imported from the northern hemisphere. All that stuff about snow and reindeers racing through the sky over the gum trees. The presents and the turkey. Nobody much liked turkey. The tree and the lights and the plastic tinsel stuff that gradually molted so you could find little glittery bits of plastic months later. The vast meal that left everyone in a food coma. The Xmas cake that came at the end that nobody had any room for. It became a family tradition called ‘parading the cake’ where it was a lions charity cake still in original packaging was put on a plate and presented to the stuffed diners to be received by groans of protest. It was then put back in the cupboard for the next year. Very economical and it lasted 8 years. The family never did have much of a sweet tooth and even as kids, my girls would let their meagre supply of Easter eggs languish in the fridge for months. The cake could have lasted indefinitely except I got curious about the condition of the cake hidden from view all those years. Sort of like Schrodinger’s cat (quantum physics joke). So I opened it up and it was in surprisingly good condition. Not too attractive, and with some crusty bits, but I reckon the middle would have been fine. No takers. Having survived 8 years being unmolested, we decided to give it a decent burial.
The fact my girls didn’t have much of a sweet tooth was probably down to me. I don’t have a sweet tooth. I did the shopping and the cooking. There is no shop within a camel ride, and I had complete dictatorship of the food provision. Sweet things were just not in the house. Which leads me to another Xmas story. Whilst shopping in a supermarket in Atherton there was Santa ho-ho-hoing and sitting little kids on his knee and giving them little gifts and a photographer taking pictures. That pic of my little girls made it into the local free newspaper and I probably still have a clipping, if only my filing system would yield up stuff from 25 years ago. The little gifts Santa gave them were lollies wrapped up in shiny paper. They came to me and asked what they were. I was so proud of my little girls not knowing what lollies, sweets or candy were. It’s just the grinch in me.
Now I am in full ‘Bah Humbug’ mode. No cards, no presents, no turkey, no tacky tinsel. Not to anyone including close family. Then my daughter Josie this year sends me a Xmas present right out of the blue! What was she thinking? She knows there is nothing in the mail for her. But then I find the touching card enclosed which assures me that “You will be happy to know only minimal funds were expended on your christmas gift, with all elements 100% sourced from secondhand retailers”. Aw shucks, she knows me really well. I am proudly wearing a shirt right now she sent me. Also included a shaving brush. Both daughters had been having a go at me about my shaving brush. I know it was older than both of them, about 35 years old, the bristles were about 20 mm long after years of attrition, but hey! the handle was fine. I now have a shaving brush with a magnificent 75mm of luxurious bristles. But you didn’t think I would throw away the old one did you? It is now relegated to the workshop to await some menial and perhaps fatal job of spreading glue.
I had an excellent Xmas dinner invited by guests to share their family occasion. Magnificent food spread out over a whole afternoon, and friendly relaxed feelings. And here dear readers, I do a complete about face to extol the virtues of Xmas. To acknowledge the worth of being in the warm embrace of family and friends. To take time out from the hussle and bussle of getting by, and appreciate relationships and fun. Thanks Lachy & Nadege. I really hope you had an excellent Xmas as well.