Advent Calendar of Memories: Day 11 – Christmas at Church

The topic for Day 11 of the Advent Calendar of Memories 2013 is Christmas at Church: 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.

A Christmas crib in Bavaria.

A Christmas crib in Bavaria.

My mother and I were always church goers and my father would very occasionally join us for Midnight Mass even though he wasn’t a Catholic. Christmas, like Easter, had many phases to the preparation for Christmas including the priest wearing purple vestments throughout Advent then wearing white on Christmas Day.

In more recent times the church has had Advent wreaths with various coloured candles for each week of Advent and while I don’t really recall this from my childhood, I do distinctly remember the Easter candle being re-lit at Christmas. The crib would be set up in the church and the baby Jesus added, I think, on Christmas Eve. We did the same thing at home: the crib was set up on a large corner display table with an angel hovering over it and suspended by the glass top of the table. Again, the baby would not be added until Christmas Day.

It was traditional to go to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve when I was a child and this was a tradition we continued with our own children for many decades. It was part of what made Christmas special, including the sleepiness, darkness, and then the candles. The band at the church we attended would play subdued carols throughout Midnight Mass, then when then as everyone left, full of the spirit of Christmas, they’d launch into rocking versions of carols with full acoustics. It was fun, and very different from the churches overseas.

Of course in Australia, we had the advantage that we didn’t have to contend with snow, jackets or the freezing cold. Even at midnight it was often still quite hot.

christmas-church-280x170When we came home we’d have shortbread and a hot drink. Midnight Mass also had a good off-spin which is that the kids were then tired enough to sleep in a little on Christmas morning and not wake us up at 4am! One of our traditions was that they had to roll over and go back to sleep when they first woke up, then they could look at one of the parcels on the end of their beds. Between this tradition and not getting to sleep until 1am, we were rarely awakened at an unholy hour on Christmas morning.

christmas-school-angel-300x201I’m not going to re-submit a response for the Christmas at School(day 13) topic, but if you would like to read my 2011 post, you’ll find it here.

This post is part of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) which allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December. Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com. You can see the posts others have submitted on the Advent Calendar Pinterest site. My post today is a minor re-working of my 2011 one.

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Advent Calendar of Memories: Day 8 – Christmas Shopping & Kiva

The topic for Day 8 of the Advent Calendar of Memories was Christmas ShoppingFor 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?

blogged on this topic back in 2011 so I’m not going to add much to that. Yes, I shop online for some gifts. I also do lay-bys for the grandchildren some time during the year. When I have to go shopping in the real world I try to get there before school closes to minimise the aggravation factor. Just yesterday there were several people in the toy aisles saying “I’m over this!”

As a family we decided that we were getting carried away with gifts so some years ago we swapped to the Secret Santa model where each family draws another family for a large-ish gift (about $75) and then each person draws another (<$20). The grandchildren of course get their own gifts but we try to contain our shopping spree so they don’t come to expect that every thing they want, everything they get.

kiva lge

We have also used Kiva as one of our nominated gifts. In only two years, our original gift has grown from three normal donations to 11 donations, with four having been fully paid out already and further loans paid from those repayments. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving!

Back in late 2011, Judy Webster established the Genealogists for Families group within Kiva and what an impact it’s had! Thanks to the generosity of genealogists world-wide, other less advantaged people have had the opportunity to further their economic independence. Here’s some stats to show just what we’ve achieved in a couple of short years. It would have been great to reach the $100,000 mark by end 2013 but that may be a goal too far. Why not join us in making a difference for other families around the world, surely the essence of the Christmas spirit. You can read a bit more about the process here. Just think, not only can you make a difference, you don’t have to go anywhere near the shops!

Team Impact Report

In 2011 the group made $US 6,675 loans. In 2012 this grew to $32,200 and in 2013 to date, $US42,700. Total $
A few breakdowns in the stats – the female:male distribution probably reflects the gender distribution of the team of genealogists making the loans.
Gender of Borrowers
74% Female (2,272)
26% Male (819)
Category of Loan
  • Agriculture  693 loans 
  •  Food 693 loans
  •  Retail 471 loans
  •  Services 355 loans
  •  Arts 190 loans
  •  Housing 156 loanssanta-shopping-300x199

This post is part of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) which allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! 

Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com. You can see the posts others have submitted on the Advent Calendar Pinterest site.

Advent Calendar: Day 9 – Christmas Craft

Christmas Craft or Christmas Shopping, that is the question. The prompt for today is: 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?

Xmas cross stitch

I need to straighten up that right hand picture!

On reflection it seems our family was fairly crafty, though necessarily every year. This was possibly an inheritance from my mother and her side of the family, as my Aunty Mary was also an enthusiastic crafter.

Family craft activities by three generations: my mother, me and my daughters.

Family craft activities by three generations: my mother, me and my daughters.

Like many families ours would decorate our tree with craft made by the children at school. Unfortunately they’re not really all that durable and over the years have become completely tatty and had to be retired. Now it’s the turn of the grandchildren, as in the weeks between school ending and Christmas we usually tackle at least one craft activity for the parents, with a painting on canvas blocks done by each child being the chief activity.

Santa Xmas craft

As our own children got in the mid-late primary school years we’d engage in craft activities at home. In my mind they’ve become the “Year of…”. One year it was the Year of Fymo when several families of neighbourhood kids would be on the family room floor creating havoc and craft with Fymo: beads, wreaths, and ornaments.

I based this Jubilee swap craft on the Xmas ones we used to do - and which were all given away.

I based this Jubilee swap craft on the Xmas ones we used to do – and which were all given away.

Then there was the Year of Cross-stitching when we created small decorations with Christmas themed cross-stitch. When travelling in Europe at Christmas-time 1989 we amused ourselves each evening making up these with an Aussie theme (koalas with gifts etc), and then gifting them to the Bed and Breakfast owners we especially liked. I unearthed a blank frame last year and completed it for the French-based blogger I’d been allocated in the Faith, Hope and Charity Jubilee Swap.

Or the Year of Applique, when I stitched appliqued T-shirts or aprons in a variety of patterns to celebrate Australia’s bicentenary as well as Christmas shirts for daughters, nieces and nephews.

Kermit and Xmas_edited-1Or the year I made photo albums for our daughters of events in their lives to that point. And then topped them up a couple of years later – but mixed up the gift tags so they had to swap to the right daughter <smile>.

One Christmas craft which gets turned out each year is the Kermit with Christmas Stocking that I made probably twenty plus years ago. If it wasn’t for our tropical insects it would be able to contain lollies and treats but instead it’s largely ornamental.

I guess there have probably been other Christmas craft activities that have faded from memory but each one giving pleasure in the activity at the time.  Quite apart from crafty activities there’s always the opportunity to make food-goodies for gifts which has happened occasionally, but not recently. They often included white chocolate or rum balls made by the kids for their grandparents or aunts.

In many ways I don’t think craft or food gifts are about saving money, because they have a cost in themselves. What they are about is the gift of the crafter’s love, time and ability (or just aspiration!) which is what Christmas sharing is about.

And as always, the cat has the last word when it comes to Christmas decorations, as you can tell from his pugnacious expression.

What do you mean I have to get off?

What do you mean I have to get off?

This post is part of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) which allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com. You can see the posts others have submitted on the Advent Calendar Pinterest site.

Advent Calendar: Day 4 – Christmas Lights & Illuminations

The Christmas light prompt is: Some families string up a few lights each year while others go nuclear and are destined to force their neighbours into a brown out situation. Did your family put up lights and outdoor decorations around Christmas time? What about the neighbours? And was it a favourite 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?

Christmas Lights in Darwin 2012

Christmas Lights in Darwin 2012: a very Aussie set of lights with Santa and his snow white boomers (kangaroos) in lieu of reindeer.

As a child, lights were mainly restricted to shops and city streets. With long summer nights the further south you go, the less the impact of house or street lighting, unlike colder climates where the sparkle of lights everywhere brightens the darkness and the spirits.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A Christmas window display in the David Jones’ window in Sydney 2006.

Instead it was traditional in those long-ago years to visit the city and see the wonderful Christmas displays (including pretty illumination and moving models) in the windows of our big department stores, like Myer or David Jones (or McWhirter or TC Beirnes). At different times we’ve seen similar window displays in Sydney as well and even in Dublin. Still I think that amazement that one has as a child remains untouched. It’s still lovely to see them but it’s just not as awe-inspiring.

I have no recollection of any houses displaying lights as happens today. It’s only in recent times (relatively) that the Christmas lights tours have taken off. We’ve only been checking out the Darwin lights for a few years and now regret we hadn’t realised the extent of the displays earlier.

christmas-lights-300x300For our family, Christmas lights were probably as much about the Christmas Carols by Candlelight which we attended every year for decades, even when our littlest was only a few weeks old. It was so atmospheric to be in a park singing away to the performers on the stage and with candles swaying. Quite beautiful and helped to define Christmas and our own family’s tradition. Unfortunately, to our minds, the Carols by Candlelight became increasingly commercialised and tacky so we ended up no longer attending in person.

However one tradition that remains is that we watch Carols by Candlelight from the Myer Music Bowl on Christmas Eve: it’s our only Christmas television tradition. Sometimes all the chores are done and we’re chilled out, some years it’s still a mad panic to get presents wrapped. Whatever the day brings, we find the enthusiasm of the crowd is infectious, and the camera crews always manage to find some super-cute babies to profile in their vision.

I was quite astonished today to discover that the Carols by Candlelight tradition started in Australia –well at least according to Wikipedia. Perhaps that’s because our climate is more conducive to spending hours out doors at that time of the year.

This post combines several topics for the Advent Calendar: Christmas lights, Christmas TV/Movies and a dab of Christmas Tradition. The 2011 topic was slightly different focusing on outdoor decorations: you can read my post here.

This post is part of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) which allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com. You can see the posts others have submitted on the Advent Calendar Pinterest site.

Advent Calendar 2013: Day 5 – Christmas Recipes (and food)

christmas-recipe-200x300I’d guess that for many of us, one of the key elements of celebrating Christmas is the sharing of food with family and/or friends. No wonder then that the topic for Day 5 (I’m late, again!) is Christmas Recipes. The prompt: 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.

After seeing the delicious pavlova as the feature image my thoughts are straying to a new tradition. Maybe we’ll have pavlova this year, along with a new easy-peasy recipe from a friend for marinated fresh fruit.

Smell is definitely a powerful memory invoker, and the smell of cooking and baking in the kitchen echoes down the years, no doubt aided by my own repetition of the same cooking and baking. So what foods does Christmas bring to mind? Well shortbread is right near the top and I always use my paternal grandmother’s recipe. The trick is cooking it just right, not too dark, not too light, not too soft and just crunchy right.

Of course Christmas cakes are in a league of their own because the fragrances are so pervasive: spices, rum, fruit, all marinading to perfection before being baked for hours, filling the house with even more wonderful aromas.

Green Peppercorn Xmas cake recipe from the Australian Women's Weekly (I think) circa 1990

Green Peppercorn Xmas cake recipe from the Australian Women’s Weekly (I think) circa 1990

As I mentioned in 2011 I always cooked the same recipe as my mother. It’s deliciously moist and fruity….a Christmas cake really has to be moist in my opinion. And then I defected: I found an unusual recipe (above) which is perfect for those who like something different and even spicier. For a while I cooked both cakes but eventually settled on the Green Peppercorn cake.

This may be the first year in over 40, when I no longer cook a cake – though perhaps I’ll weaken: maybe I should consult the family. I love Christmas Cake but it no longer loves me and, getting ahead on the topics, is more foe than friend these days, sadly. Christmas pudding, complete with sixpences and threepences, was a feature of all my childhood Christmases and again has been something I’ve cooked for over 40 years.

However we’ve also started a new family tradition with tiramisu for dessert and that has largely overtaken the fan club for pudding. My grandmother’s and mother’s recipe makes two puddings so I’ve had one frozen since last year, half of which has gone to my mother, and the other half will likely satisfy those who hang out for Christmas pudd.

The main Christmas course is where the changes have come to pass over time. We might still have a roast but it’s more likely to be on Christmas Eve with cold slices for lunch on the big day. In my childhood the roast would be chicken which was then expensive and not eaten often, unlike today. Our own preference has turned to roast pork, cooked in the oven or the BBQ, ironically a nod back to my Kunkel ancestor’s heritage.

Ham is always on the menu too, but the feature is now the fresh prawns from the trawlers that come into Darwin around this time of the year, with an entrée of Coffin Bay oysters which our son-in-law prepares. So much more suitable in a tropical climate, even in the air-conditioning. As a child the Christmas table would always include lollies, nuts and crystallised ginger (one of my mother’s favourites). These days we have “only” a tiny sample of lollies and nuts, and some yummy Swiss chocolates.

For Christmas Dad would have a beer, a relatively unusual event as his mother, living next door and a good Presbyterian, didn’t approve. For years our own family would make Sangria as the day’s tipple, along with a fruit punch for the kids. But I’ve diverted from recipes to food: the joys and memories of Christmases past.

Why not pop over to my Tropical Territory blog and see some of those delicious spices where they are grown in Zanzibar. It was so interesting to see them outside the Masterfoods spice bottle.

This post is part of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) which allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com. You can see the posts others have submitted on the Advent Calendar Pinterest site.

Advent Calendar: Day 6 – Santa Claus

santa-cookies-milkThe Prompt for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2013, Day 6, is Santa Claus. Geneabloggers prompt 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?

Post your best Santa story and your memories of Christmases past.”

I wrote a little about my own memories of Santa as a child in the ACCM 2011. During my teens I also had penfriends, one of whom came from the Netherlands, and that was my first exposure to Saint Nicholas and the different gift-giving traditions. We still have a book we bought for our children which tells the stories of Christmas celebrations world-wide.

In my 2011 story I made a passing reference to the different ways our children had experienced Santa’s arrival. On reflection it’s also interesting because I suspect that Santa has been nudged out of schools in our multi-cultural, religiously diverse society even though the kids still sing Christmas songs at pre-school, at least. Our youngest grandchild recently sang of Santa in his red, red hat, carrying a sack. The kids were just oh so cute, but of course privacy prevents including their photos here. Meanwhile the family’s littlies are preparing their Santa lists and sending our letters with their wishes.

However back to a “best Santa story”. When we lived in Port Moresby one of my work colleagues invited us to a Christmas party hosted by their club or society. I no longer have the faintest idea which club it actually was, but a great troop of people travelled by various boats to one of Moresby’s offshore islands where everyone had fun in the sun, swimming, playing in the sand, getting sunburnt, and having one or two cold beers and a picnic.

The highlight of the day was Santa’s arrival by small single-engined aircraft, in fact the very one I took flying lessons on a year or two later. Having landed the red-robed gentleman made his way up the beach where small children rushed to greet him. Our eldest, then about five, was among the forefront of the fan club. The sheer delight and admiration on her face as she walked along the beach holding Santa’s hand and swinging it back and forth, devotedly looking up at him, is an image that’s very precious to both of us.

Santa arrives by fire engine at Boroko East Pre-School in Port Moresby 1977.

Santa arrives by fire engine at Boroko East Pre-School in Port Moresby 1977. The children combined it with a fancy-dress day.

Our younger daughter was far more cautious and only reluctantly reached from Mum’s arms to snatch her present from Santa. She wasn’t about to trust any stranger in such cold-weather clothes! She was far happier when they undid their parcels with their red-dressed Barbie dolls but it didn’t change her opinion of Santa that year.

Unfortunately while we have it on old Super 8 film (and now on DVD) we don’t have a still of it, so your imaginations will have to suffice. I really do need to learn how to take still clips from movies.

Since I don’t have a photo of the flying Santa I’ll make do with one of Santa’s arrival at pre-school in a red, red fire-truck to go with his red, red suit.

Did your family leave cookies/biscuits and milk out for Santa and carrots for his reindeer? I never did as a child, but we did in a low-key way with our children.

This post is part of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) which allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com. You can see the posts others have submitted on the Advent Calendar Pinterest site.

Advent Calendar: Christmas Music

christmas-music-02-209x300The prompts for the Advent Calendar’s Christmas Music topic are: 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?

My grandmother owned a gramophone (which I’ve now inherited) but I don’t recall her having any Christmas music for it – perhaps that was to do with her more serious Presbyterian upbringing. I guess we listened to carols on the radio but to be honest I have no clear memory of doing so. It was at church where carols were sung, old favourites like Adeste Fidelis and Silent Night.…there wasn’t a lot of musical diversification, and the very religious hymns were the staff and clefs of Christmas music (well I couldn’t say bread and butter, now could I?).

Nor did we have a parish choir to lead us, in contrast to the rather grand choir we heard at Christmas Eve Mass in Lucerne in 1989.  The rise and fall of voices and the grandeur of the organ were a huge contrast to our usual experiences. Another form of music happened after Mass, as well as on Christmas morning. The pealing of bells around the lake is a distinctive memory which seems to fit perfectly with a winter’s day. In Australia church bells are rarely rung, and I suspect there’d be riots if the bells pealed across the night sky at Christmas.

Mum was always a great one for singing around the house so I guess that would have happened at Christmas, yet I don’t remember it specifically at Christmas – perhaps just the fabric of day-to-day life. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that she’s just been taking part in the choir at the retirement village where’s she recently relocated. Unfortunately I didn’t inherit her singing voice but at least I knew the rhythm and words, unlike Dad who was tone deaf.

When I passed Junior (Year 10, aged 14) I was given a portable record player as an achievement present. This opened up our musical repertoire and I remember clearly hearing Oh Tannenbaum for the first time and being thrilled that I could make sense of some of the words, thanks to my German classes. It was a thrill to be able to listen to whatever music we liked whenever we liked. Mum was particularly fond of Bing Crosby’s White Christmas.

One of our first Christmas albums as a couple.

One of our first Christmas albums as a couple, now well into its 40th decade.

One of our earliest Christmas LP purchases as a married couple was Nana Mouskouri’s Christmas record and I fell in love with Little Drummer Boy and Mary’s Boy Child. Feliz Navidad entered the family’s music lexicon quite a few years later and I love its exuberance and sense of celebration.

In some respects my Christmas music preferences have reverted to their origins. My favourite music is now the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah, Joy to the World and serious choral performances like the album we have of the Oxford Boys Choir.

We store our Christmas CDs with the decorations, so once the tree goes up (which will happen this weekend) we will bring out the CDs as well and start playing them. The two go together because our family tradition is that carols must be played as the tree is decorated.

If you’re interested you can find my 2011 Christmas Music post here. The questions that year were slightly different so it has a very slightly different spin, appropriately for music.

This post is part of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) which 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: Oh Tannenbaum

Advent calendar 2Today is the first in the 2013 series of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories. I participated in the series in 2011 so thought I might have another go-around this year though some posts may simply be link-backs to earlier topics.

Gum Tree Christmas and bride doll.

Gum Tree Christmas and bride doll.

In our family the Christmas tree has changed over my lifetime. As a child it was always a branch of a small gum (eucalyptus) tree from down near the neighbourhood creek, or perhaps even a small tree. Because it was live we only put the tree up in the days before Christmas. It infused the house with the distinctive fragrance of eucalyptus oil. It’s strange how memory works because I have no recollection of the process though there was definitely ceremony attached and I was always involved in the decorating.

Our fake pine tree, DD1 and 2, Port Moresby 1977

Our fake pine tree, DD1 and 2, Port Moresby 1977

As a young married couple we followed the tradition of branches of live trees, like the casuarina. It was decorated with indestructible baubles in bright 1970s colours and cheap trade-store ornaments, many of which lasted decades. Later on we moved to a plastic, pseudo-pine tree which did look the part. No doubt we bought it at one of the Chinese trade stores in Port Moresby though I’m not sure which.

Another generation discovers the Xmas tree -and an original bauble from 1970.

Another generation discovers the Xmas tree -and an original bauble from 1970.

That tree followed our family back to Australia and through our children’s growing up. It remained in Brisbane when we moved to the Territory and eventually was retired from service by daughter #2 a few years ago as even a fake tree loses its needles after decades.

Meanwhile we progressed through another two trees thanks to the services of a small furry creature who thought having an indoor climbing adventure, complete with tempting trinkets, was just the ticket! We downsized to a small one for just the empty nesters, then upsized again as the grandchildren came along.

For as long as I can recall we’ve put our tree up around our youngest daughter’s birthday in early December, and taken it down for mine, in early January. It is definitely a family tradition so I smiled quietly to myself when I heard her telling our grandsons yesterday that they would put their tree up next weekend. Of such things are memories and traditions made.

Xmas delight

Xmas delight -first sighting of the tree. c1973

It’s also traditional that Christmas carols must be played during the decorating of the tree, and each person in the house contributes to hanging the decorations, even if someone else occasionally relocates a particular bauble. The tree inevitably had the addition of children’s craft decorations from preschool and school, some of which have survived over time and some which fell apart.

Wherever we travel, especially in the prelude to Christmas, we purchase Christmas decorations, and every time we declare “no more”, “that’s enough”, so I won’t tell you that on our recent trips to Kenya and Brisbane, our bauble stocks increased. Perhaps we should start an A to Z of Christmas baubles and where they were bought!

The cat contributes by downsizing our somewhat excessive decorations with a niftily turned paw and claw. It’s also amazing how much neater the house looks as soon as the busyness of trees and decorations cease in January. But nothing says Christmas is on its way like a beautifully decorated tree, and nothing makes kids’ eyes sparkle like all that bling.

This is my link-back to my original Christmas Tree post.

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 tale of threes

Sepia Saturday 191They say “two is company and three is a crowd” and there are times when that can feel quite true. Growing up as an only child, it was easy at times to feel odd one out, or conversely to lend allegiance to one or the other parent: a triangulation of emotions. Envy of those with siblings, bouncing around them like puppies, was not uncommon and yet, once accustomed to, a change in the sibling status would have been a shock to the system, however much wished for or welcomed.

Scared of a camera...me?

Scared of a camera…me?

On reflection it seems that the number three was destined to play a significant role in my life.

Throughout high school I had two best girlfriends to share the highs and lows of those teenaged years in an all-girls school.

Joan Pauleen and Norman Kunkel query Anzac Sq crop

Different tertiary paths eroded the friendship but two of us remained, and a new one was added –the boyfriend, now husband. Broader friendships were formed but at the core those two.

Then over the years we were to have three daughters to brighten our lives and keep us on our toes.

The three sisters in front of the rock formation in the Blue Mountains called the Three Sisters.

The three sisters in front of the rock formation in the Blue Mountains called the Three Sisters.

Now we have three grandchildren, delightful all, with the gender distribution changed to two boys and a girl.

Isn’t it strange how “fate” follows you around, and in my case, three has been a recurring theme. Comparing these photos with the Sepia Saturday one, it struck me that in mine, the balance is different: the youngest has centre place in every one with the older family members providing a protective barrier.

Why not have a look at what other Sepians have had to say about threes.

Guest post by Sir Springer the Cat

Did anyone tell you I’ve returned home?

Peter and Springer lowMum & Dad were apparently terribly agitated and very sad that they’d never ever see me again: they cried and cried and put posters in hundreds of letter boxes but no one had seen me. Lucky for me the cat gods were looking after me and I’m perfectly safe, if a little wiser.

I came home on the evening before my 7th birthday, Anzac Day. I’d been away for 7 weeks, one week for every year of my life (well in human terms anyway). They say that marriages have seven year itches, and people have mid-life crises, well I was turning 49 in cat years and I think that called for a crisis of its own. I just didn’t expect it wouldn’t be much fun. I don’t like to frighten my family so I haven’t told Mum & Dad all the things that happened, and they’re really not very good at understanding cat language, so I just look deeply into their eyes instead and purr and do paddy-paws.

What happened was that Mum was in Brisbane, Dad was at work and I just felt like a little adventure. I was tired of being home by myself – I’m used to company while Mum works on the computer. My friend Slinky Malinky, a black cat who I’ve been playing with lots, dropped by and we were running and playing in the yards nearby.

Springer_edited-1lowThen I got a terrible fright – a scary person I didn’t like tried to catch me and I hid. Later on some big dogs chased me –there’s far too many of those creatures around here!  I ran and ran so fast to get away from them and I had to dodge the cars as I raced across a big street. By the time I stopped I just didn’t know where I was, even though I know some of the streets from when we go to the vets or the cat resort.

For a couple of weeks I just wandered around trying to find my way home, getting more and more lost and hungry even though I managed to catch a couple of mice in the parks. One day when I was nearly starving a kind lady offered me some milk and food so I just decided to trust her for a couple of weeks. She hadn’t seen any of the posters my family had put up in the shops so she didn’t know to ring them and instead she called the pound to come and get me.

I’m lucky I’m so handsome because they tried to find my home by ringing all sorts of people. Even though they had my picture on their wall they didn’t realise it was me, because my face looked a bit less ginger in that photo. None of the people they called were my family and they went home looking very sad. After I’d been there nearly 2 weeks,  they called Mum and told her they just might have me, even though they couldn’t find my microchip…I think it must have fallen out. Was I big cat? Had I been desexed? Yes, what do I know about girls?! It’s not as if I’d run away just to chase some girl. Mind you, I liked to have met the girl cat who’s missing from near here and who looks a lot like me…she looks nice.

Of course I look smug -I'm home!

Of course I look smug -I’m home!

Mum arrived at the pound and she told me her legs were shaking all the way there and she kept praying it would be me. When they took her into the cat room we just looked at each other but after she opened the door and leant in, I gave her my favourite head-butt of affection. We both knew I was going home! The ladies from the pound and PAWS were so excited they had tears in their eyes.

Ever since we got home I’ve been so happy to be here. I can’t get enough pats and cuddles and keep sitting as close as possible to my family and purring and purring. I even like the grandchildren now.

I don’t want to be aloof any more, I’ve had my fill of adventure. When either of my family sits down I jump straight up and join them for a cuddle. I even sleep on the end of the bed now and if I feel lonely I can go up and ask for more pats. Mum says my eyes look a bit different now – of course they do! I saw some scary stuff out there in the wilds of the suburb.

I’m done with my mid-life crisis, I just want to be safe at home. Every now and then I look out at the courtyard but it’s a scary world out there, and inside everyone loves me. You’d think I was a celebrity the way my family has turned into the paparazzi and take my photo at every turn. And everywhere my parents go people are just so thrilled that I made it home safely – and so am I.

Mum wants to get in on the act now, but I don’t mind because we’re such good mates.

Mr Cassmob & I are so grateful for the kindness of all our friends and the random strangers we bailed up to ask about Springer. The TELAF people were fabulous in keeping Springer’s photo in the missing list for people to see and the RSPCA, PAWS and the pound were all responsive to our requests for follow-up. We’re eternally grateful to have our boy back safe and sound and especially thank the unknown lady who looked after him in Holtze St as well as the PAWS ladies at the pound who called us to come and look. People have been so kind. 

(Thanks to Geniaus for the guest post idea).