Most of the decorations on our tree have some particular significance, in that they were handmade or given to us by friends or family, or they formerly belonged to people who are no longer with us. These four mini stockings that come out every year fit into the first category. They were cross-stitched by yours truly 21 years ago, in 1994, as you can see from the designs on two of them. I must admit that I haven't done much cross stitch since. This inspired me to look for photos of Christmas 1994.
In 1994 my parents Jean and Ian Cruickshank moved permanently from Canberra to Wamberal on the Central Coast of NSW. They had bought the house a few years earlier and had used it as a holiday home up until then. We usually spent Christmas with them. Here are the cook and her assistant in the kitchen, which was always spotlessly organised and ultra tidy - unlike mine, there was no such thing as a 'jumble drawer' in Jean's kitchen! It looks like she is about to cut up pumpkin ready for roasting, together with potatoes, parsnips and brussel sprouts for a hot Christmas dinner, regardless of the outside temperature.
I think that year we may have gone to the family service at the local church on Christmas Eve. Then on Christmas morning after present opening was over and all was tidy, we would enjoy a drink with one of Mum's lovely mince pies before roast dinner was ready to be served.
In the afternoon we might have gone to the local beach at Spoon Bay for a dip, or perhaps this was a photo taken on Boxing Day, when we always went out somewhere for a picnic, taking with us Mum's NZ style bacon and egg pie for lunch.
Christmas tea was also a fairly 'set menu', with things as a dressed ham, rice or potato salad, hard boiled eggs, green salad, meringues and Christmas cake on the menu. The party hats come from the Christmas crackers, the remnants of which you can see on the table. On the walls behind are paintings by my uncle Graeme Morrison and my grandfather's cousin Charlotte Petrie, which I now have hanging on the walls here. I also have one of those Royal Doulton picture plates. My sister has the other one, and I'm 'minding' Uncle Graeme's painting for her until she can work out how best to get it over to NZ, as well as the little wooden side table with ingrained decoration that you can see on the left of the drinks photo, bought by Jean and Ían in Florence in the 1970s.
The house itself is still there in Dalpura Rd Wamberal but it has been altered so much as to be barely recognisable. Ian passed away in 2000 and Jean moved elsewhere, renting the home out until she decided to sell a few years later, but it was then discovered that the basement had sustained quite major structural damage. This may have occurred as a result of the earthquake that struck Newcastle in 1989, and had worsened since that date. With a grim warning that some kind of collapse could occur at any time, we felt we had to give the tenants notice and were just happy to secure a sale at well below what would otherwise have been market value to some builders who were able to assess and fix the problem. Luckily Ian did not know about all this!
So here is our tree this year, with those little 21 year old stockings adorning it, together with other mementoes, such as the fairy on top that was made by my late sister-in-law. The rocking horse that belonged to Jean is patiently awaiting the next visit of a grandchild.
We won't be spending Christmas itself at home this year, but we're having a pre-Christmas tea this coming Saturday with three of our four children and their partners, and the fare will be similar to that served by Jean in 1994. Most of the meal will be cold, which will suit us just fine, with the temperature forecast to reach 41 degrees C.
You can see more Christmas blogs here at http://sepiasaturday.blogspot.com.au/2015/12/sepia-saturday-310-christmas-and-new.html
Merry Christmas to all!