Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: 23rd December 2011 – Christmas Sweetheart Memories

Do you have a special memory of a first Christmas present from a sweetheart? How did you spend your first Christmas together? Any Christmas engagements or weddings among your ancestors?

The Christmas season has been pretty unpopular as a marriage time for those on my family trees: probably because it’s just too hot here, but only one in the European branches too.

Apparently we’re both far too unromantic since neither of us has a memory of what my first Christmas present was from my husband (my first sweetheart). Nor does he remember what I gave him. I think his present to me may have been the carved ornament of a Chinese fisherman but I’m not sure. Not too much should be read into this gift-amnesia, after all I remember many of the other gifts he gave me for no reason at all when we were dating, not to mention the bunches of violets and other flowers.

The wharf at Alotau in Milne Bay a few years after we lived there. This is just a small snippet of the Bay.

Our first Christmas together was the one after we married…all the preceding years he’d been far away in Papua New Guinea with his family with no means of communication other than very slow snail mail and radio telephone. We lived in a very small town in Milne Bay District and had limited shopping opportunities –just four trade stores in the town and a somewhat larger store on Samarai where “himself” used to work when they lived on the island. We bought our first family Christmas decorations and our first LPs of Christmas music from one of these trade stores. The decorations were very 1970s as they were in flourescent colours. We still have one or two that successive cats and children haven’t mangled and proving that what was “once old is new again”, a few years ago the colours even came back into fashion.

Our first Christmas Day nearly ended up being a repast of very simple standards – the planes hadn’t been able to land for some days due to the weather. Milne Bay is shaped like  a horseshoe with mountains surrounding it meaning that when it rained HEAVILY during the Wet Season the bay was filled with dense clouds and the mountains shrouded. It was a foolhardy pilot who took the flying conditions lightly..it was an unforgiving place to fly.

Anyway on that Christmas Day we sat at a friend’s place, with food to nibble on but with no main course as all our meat had to be flown in from Port Moresby. We listened optimistically as once again we heard the buzz of the small aircraft trying to find its way through the murk. Imagine our excitement when we could hear it below the clouds and heading for the runway at Gurney. Everyone jumped in a vehicle of some sort and took off for the airstrip some 20kms of rough road and a couple of un-bridged creeks away. We happily recovered our Christmas food orders and were joyful that our Christmas meal would no longer be such a simple repast. Ironically neither of us remembers what it was that we ordered – only that it arrived in the nick of time, thanks to the efforts of a gutsy pilot who was working on Christmas Day. Hopefully when he got home there was a nice meal waiting for him too.

We didn’t own a camera at this stage of our married life when funds were tight, so we have no visual record of our first Christmas together.

Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers is encouraging us to celebrate the 2011 Christmas season with a series of posts called the Advent Calendar of Memories. This is today’s entry.