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Bon Bons and Paper Crowns

We have to drive down Rocky Point Rd to get to our ancestral home – The Sutherland Shire. Its a soulless six lane strip lined with bland apartment blocks and brick veneer townhouses. Except for my Aunt Ida’s old place on the corner which is heritage listed. Its exterior remained much the same from when she was born at the beginning of last century to when she died at the beginning of this one. It adds a desperately needed touch of character to the area. I am glad it’s been preserved but despite this for me something has been lost….

A few blocks back down is an unremarkable medium density development. Thirty years ago there stood a ramshackle old house with a cracked concrete pathway and double garage that looked suspiciously like it contained asbestos. The whole shebang sat on a spacious quarter acre block – the type which has been consigned to history (at least in Sydney). It was my grandparent’s home.

My Mum is the second youngest of eight so as you’d expect I have MANY cousins – 15 infact. (And NO we are not Catholic). When the clan converged on the place for Christmas it was always bigger than Ben Hur.

Christmas lunch was an unfashionable feast. You’d never the likes of it on a gastro porn blog these days but Oh My! it was tasty. My grandmother and aunties would roast three different types of meat served up with boatloads of gravy. Apple sauce in a naff crystal bowl was de rigour to compliment to pork crackling. Everyone wanted the pork crackling. The veges were roasted to with in an inch of their lives. They were so soft that they sagged the minute they hit the plate (like a middle aged butt).

Dessert was the traditional sherry drenched pudding drowned in homemade custard, whipped cream and icecream. If you could possibly fit in any more, a family of naff crystal bowls, related to the one that held the apple sauce, offered up choc coated nuts and sultanas. There was even some of that awful white Christmas made with rice bubbles and studded with (cough, cough) glace cherries. The passing of time has not made that particular confection any better.

Not dreaming of a white christmas

Not dreaming of a white christmas

The fancy glassware was extracted from the display cabinent where it resided next to the trinkets Uncle Donny brought back from the Korean War. As a special treat the kids could imbibe sparkling grape juice directly from the shelves of Jewel ( a super market chain before the Colesworths apocalypse). We felt very mature and sophisticated indeed.

After all the plates were emptied and we all felt like exploding there was some actual exploding. The cracking of Bon Bons resounded about the room. Grown men donned flimsy paper crowns and guwaffed at the corny jokes. It was only then that the tribe could migrate to the living room for the presents.

With such large numbers the family stuck to a gifts for kids only policy. Still there were so many presents that a large section of the faded floral living room carpet was obscured. My Grandfather took the mantel of Santa and handed out each one. He always saved the very best for last – the bag of Violet Crumble that he coveted every year.  After that he’d umpire the game of backyard cricket. Our clan did it French style with under arm chucking in place of bowling. A hit over the fence was a six and out.

All my grandfather wanted for Christmas

All my grandfather wanted for Christmas

As the cousins grew up and scattered all over Australia the gathering shrank. Then in the late 1980s a developer approached my grandparents with an offer they couldn’t refuse.  They sold and moved to the lower Blue Moutains where my Grandfather contentedly spent his remaining years pottering about the garden. He left the building at age 83. Lung cancer defeated him whereas the Depression  World War Two, the times a changin’ in the 1960s, Whitlam and even the Trevor Chappell underarm bowling incident could not. My Grandmother battled on but was never the same without her beloved “Snow”. (That was his nick name because of his very blonde hair). She joined him in 2009. I was heavily pregnant with P2 at the time – her 33rd great grand child.

Team Abulous is pretty much assured of having a wonderful Christmas this year. We’ll join my brother and sister in law in the Shire. They are generous souls who love nothing more than putting on a magnificent spread. The girls will splash about in the pool  jump on the trampoline and work themselves into an excited frenzy with their cousins.  I’ll sip on Yellowglen laced with Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup. Undoubtedly some silly hat wearing and lame joke telling will happen.

There’s no doubt it will be a great day but I’ll feel a touch of melancholy when we drive back up Rocky Point Rd. For me a slice of history has been lost.

What will you get up to this Christmas?

Not my family but it could have been.

Not my family but it could have been.

 

PS: Thanks to all the blog fans who have put up with me in 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Silent Night – Holy Shite!

Dadabulous and I are awesome parents. In a display of parental awesomeness we very selflessly took the girls to a local Christmas carol event on Sunday evening. This may not sound like much of a sacrifice but for Dadabulous Christmas carols are the ultimate form of aural torture. In his perfect world caroling and Mariah Carey would be banned by the Geneva convention. Playing Christmas carols by Mariah Carey would be punishable by death – perhaps an ironic death by caroling. Dadabulous prayed for rain and was taunted by the weather  Gods who sent a light clearing shower two hours before the show. By the time 6.30pm rolled around we were committed. We fortified ourselves by gulping chardonnay and headed beachside for the Annual Coogee Carols.

As we approached the beach we realized that Silent Night was way off target. A better description would be a few thousand Christmas heads wearing Santa hats and reindeer antlers (some simultaneously) jammed into a field slowly getting sozzled. We wiggled our way through the festive throng (because a vertically challenged family can get away with that) to the strains of primary school students singing Jingle Bells – badly. Off key vocals didn’t dampen P2’s delight. She squealed “Yay – I sang this at kindy” and skipped through the crowd grinning from ear to ear.

The girls amid a crowd of Christmas heads.

The girls amid a crowd of Christmas heads.

We experienced our own Christmas miracle when we located our friends- a feat akin to finding a needle in a haystack.  We then took up our own piece of turf to the obvious disgust of the family directly behind us and settled in to enjoy the extravaganza of local celebrities. I don’t know where the A listers were but Realty TV graduates and bit players from the musical theater featured heavily.  A former Master Chef contestant made a meal of Away In A Manger. A perky TV weather chick struggled through one of the classics – buggered if I can remember which one. At this stage no one was drunk enough for bad karaoke. It’s not a party until someone pukes. A boy seated next to us obliged quite early in the piece. He continued to shove Pringles in his mouth whilst his parents mopped up the foul smelling mess.

All the favorites were wheeled out one by one – White Christmas, All I Want For Christmas Is You, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, The Little Drummer Boy etc etc. The hits just kept on coming. In the meantime the crowd, Team Abulous included, purchased faux candles to do the job previous generations performed with cigarette lighters. They lit up the scene like fairy lights and were just the right size for the kids to stick in my ears and down my throat.

Perfect to stick in your mother's ear.

Perfect to stick in your mother’s ear.

Hands were waved in the air to the John Lennon’s “And So This Is Christmas”. Thankfully Paul McCartney’s contribution to the silly season  – Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time was left on the shelf.  The quality of the performances improved considerably as the evening wore on. The turning point came for me when I was offered a glass of champagne – Evans & Tate no less.  As the tempo picked up the girls rocked the night away – because jingle bell time is a swell time to do just that. P2 unleashed her inner Beyonce shaking her “bum bum” and flashing her slightly damp knickers. P1 twirled her torch with the best of them. The hit of the night was, ironically given my previous post – Last Christmas.  The girls bopped enthusiastically as if they were channeling my 14 year old self.

That's the jingle bell rock.

That’s the jingle bell rock. Go P1.

On the way home we were treated to a fireworks display and the look of wonderment on P2’s face said it all. Trudging back up the hill the girl’s agreed “That was the best show ever. That was soooo fun”. I reiterate – Dadabulous and I are truly awesome parents.  The only downside is that a week out  I have exhausted my Christmas carol quotient for the year. The next time I hear Silent Night I’ll run from the room screaming “Holy shite!” with my hands covering my ears. This should make the week’s grocery shopping interesting to say the least.

Seven shopping days to go Mumrades.

Love

Mumabulous

The relationship between consumption of this and enjoyment of Christmas carols is directly proportional.

The relationship between consumption of this and enjoyment of Christmas carols is directly proportional.


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WHAM! – Its December

I’ve had a double dose of the daycare Christmas concert this week. Nothing is more delightful than seeing your own kids singing Christmas carols. The older group poured their hearts and souls into their rendition of Rudolf, amping up the attitude like they were auditioning for The Voice. Getting the Caterpillar group ( 3 year olds) to perform was like herding cats but they did very remarkably well. Only about half of them mouthed the words like footballers doing the national anthem. They all gesticulated enthusiastically to We Wish You a Merry Christmas and beamed at the parents rousing applause. In this context Christmas carols are a joy but when you are subjected to Santa Claus Is Coming To Town for two months before the fat fellow actually gets to town it becomes excruciating.

As a student Dadabulous worked in Target over the summer break. Here he was subjected to Christmas carols on a continuous loop all day. The scars of this ordeal run deep. I believe he is suffering what is now known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The first few bars of Away In A Manger are enough to have him rocking on the floor in the fetal position covering his ears. This week the UN General Assembly voted in favor of the recognition of an independent  Palestinian state. I ask why they are wasting their time on this decades old conflict when more serious humanitarian issues are afoot? For the sake of the entire world’s sanity I propose that the UN pass a resolution banning the playing of any type of Christmas music in any public place until December 18th – exactly one week before the big day.

Think of how much merrier your shopping experience would be if you were not assaulted with WHAM!’s Last Christmas in the aisles of your local Colesworths. It is this tune above all others that unleashes the angry Grinch in me every December. Those faux sleighbells may as well be the sound of cash registers ringing. Its such a cynical attempt to bring in royalties year upon year. Do you remember the cheesy video clip accompanying the single’s  original release in 1984?  It revolves around an unlikely love triangle. A woman with a Princess Di haircut ( well it was the early 80s) has a brief Christmas fling with George Micheal then dumps him for Andrew Ridgeley* on Boxing Day. (hence the lyrics “Last Christmas I gave you my heart but the very next day you gave it away”). All I can say is that the Princess Di wanna-be must have wised up to George’s homosexuality toot sweet. Looking back how could any of us ever have imagined that George Micheal was straight?

Soooo intense. George Michael in Last Christmas.

Soooo intense. George Michael in Last Christmas.

Like all Christmas classics the song refuses to die with dignity. Its been covered by a new generation of pop tarts so we can relive the the bitter sweet feeling of unrequited love every silly season. According to Wiki, Billie Piper, Ashley Tisdale, Cascada and Alcazar have all had a go. There is even a Crazy Frog version. Holy Shite! How much irritation can you wring out of one song George? Here’s tip for all you evil record company types – let 1D cover Last Christmas complete with a soppy video clip. Perhaps it could feature all five of our pre- pubescent heroes fighting over one lucky chick. Much to the annoyance of parents everywhere it is certain to be a cash cow.

My Gaydar's going nuts with 20/20 hindsight.

My Gaydar’s going nuts with 20/20 hindsight.

Are you with me on banning Christmas music in shopping centres prior to December 18th? What Christmas song do you find the most annoying?

Remember there’s 24 shopping days left.

Ho, ho, ho

Mumabulous

* Younger readers may not know that Andrew Ridgeley was George Michael’s partner in WHAM! He disappeared from the limelight when WHAM! disbanded in 1986. In a fittingly 1980s twist he is married to one of the Bananarama alumni.

Andrew Ridgeley - then and now. Cripes I feel old.

Andrew Ridgeley – then and now. Cripes I feel old.

Photo shamelessly pilfered from NME.