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As Christmas approaches each and every year, my mind reverts to my most dearest memories of Christmas gone by, when growing up in a noisy family of six children, we embraced the Christmas spirit with joy and complete excitement each year.  Christmas Eve was reserved for my mum’s side of the family, all her brothers and sisters and their families would congregate at Milton Street and there would be presents galore – no wonder we could not sleep for days leading up to this day.  When I reached my teens  my brother Michael and I would busy ourselves by hopping on the train and heading off to Puckle Street shops in Moonee Ponds to make the day go faster.  Then while we waited for the visitors to arrive, we would all sit down together and watch The Little Drummer Boy which bought a tear to my eye every year when the little drummer boy’s lamb was hit.  Afterwards as we waited for our visitors to arrive, Dad would put on his favourite Christmas carols sung by Bing Crosby, Nana Mouskouri and Perry Como and we would sing long into the night…

With all of the relatives entering carrying food and presents to go under the tree we would wait patiently while the adults all got their stories out of the way then the present opening would start.  Oh, it was the highlight of my year where each of our names were called as we opened gift after gift.  Then of course it was quite difficult trying to get to sleep knowing that Santa was coming as well, it was always like having two Christmas’s every year and I always felt so lucky.

As the years went by and I grew up, left home and married, Christmas day always was the ritual meeting place for all the family at Milton Street, a tradition my husband and children came to love as much as I did.  Starting off with Dad’s famous french onion soup followed by a big roast dinner with mum’s christmas pudding for desert for nearly 39 years became almost unbearable to replicate once we lost Mum and Michael in 2002,  and even though we tried so hard, it was just too much of a gaping hole for us to fill. As we have moved through the last 10 years grappling with what to do with ourselves each Christmas as a family I think now we, as siblings have realised what we all had was so very special that it could never be replicated but we now all meet the week before Christmas to celebrate the season, catch up and have a drink together in memory of Dad, Mum & Michael.  Christmas day now is never easy, nor will this one be as we will remember our dearest friend John who we lost too early to pancreatic cancer this year, another first for his family and closest to endure…

         

Its now our turn to begin making new traditions at my beach retreat.  Each year starting from this Christmas, I would like to hold Christmas lunch here, just like my parents before me, where my children and one day their children will love coming down to the beach to celebrate our family Christmas in the most beautiful setting. I feel it will be the beginning of many good memories.  Our doors will be open to all family members who can make it down the highway and if I can honour the tradition of what my parents created, then I feel I have carried on their tradition which we all treasured so much.  Each Christmas Eve now Bill myself and our children open our gifts to each other which keeps the Christmas Eve present giving memory still alive for me.

          

I would like to leave you with a memory from my childhood Christmas, the music still today brings a tear to my eyes from this beautiful animation of ‘The Little Drummer Boy’…for those who remember it like I do, enjoy…

And on Christmas Eve just as I do every year I will take myself off somewhere peaceful where I can sit quietly with a red wine and just remember the memories which are locked away in my heart and sing a few of my favourite carols just like I used to do all those years ago with Dad, particularly Oh Holy night, Ave Maria & Mum’s favourite Old Toy Trains

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