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.








19 thoughts on “Bon Bons and Paper Crowns

  1. Mumabs, that was really beautiful! Have a wonderful Christmas and I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for you and your blog x

  2. This is a beautiful post and I feel like I have read a bit of my own Christmas memories in here too. Grandparents were just the best at throwing memorable Christmases.
    Merry Christmas!

  3. Similar family set-up here as well Mumabs. My mum was one of the eldest of 7 children and I have 16 cousins on that side, and we all somehow squished into a tiny 2 bedroom housing commission flat for a standing-room-only lunch before spilling out into the oval to play cricket. Now we only do immediate family, so a much smaller and more sedate affair. Have absolutely loved every single post on your blog and eagerly await what 2015 brings. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas xx

  4. Gorgeous post… memories of a time when Christmas was daggy but fun. These days it has to look good enough for the ‘blogshot’!
    Our kids drink was Devondale Sparkling Apple Cider served in the ‘good’ glasses (not flutes) kept in the china cabinet and only brought out on special occasions. Have a wonderful Christmas and keep being fabulous x

  5. Beautiful recollections of Christmas’s past – many of which sound very much like my own memories! I too come from a large family and have heaps of cousins (I haven’t counted them). I have such happy memories of time spent with aunties, uncles, cousins and grandmothers. Sadly, both my grandfathers had passed before I was born. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas with your lovely big family! x

  6. You’ve described our Christmas to a T, down to the crystal bowls with choc covered nuts (I secretly spat out the sultanas if I were unlucky enough to get one), including the sacred Christmas Eve addition of scorched almonds. Always held at my Grandparents big house, lots of family and cousins and now second cousins. Only difference being we did pressies first thing in the morning and lunch after.

    Sadly my Grandma passed away this Easter, so we’ve reconvened at the local caravan park for a camping christmas. All the family will be there, missing our matriarch, but new traditions will be created, and good memories made.

    Loved your story 🎄

  7. i loved reading this and had me reflecting on my Christmas past with my grandparents. I hope you have a fantabulous Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2015.

  8. no barney?

    There was ALWAYS a barney of some sort at our big family get togethers.

    Unfortunately, one lot got nasty and Christmas from then on became an immediate family only affair…

    Have a fabulous Chrissy my lovely xxxxxxx

  9. that was a lovely trip down your Christmas memory lane. Similarities abound for me too! I actually made that white Christmas a few times because my dad & sil liked it! Merry Christmas!

  10. We have a very small family and were just stranded on our farm but your Christmas events sound like ones that I used to wish for as a kid!

  11. Beautiful! got me a little teary and sentimental for my own family xmases gone by. Chrissy is never quite the same when you’re a grown up, but I love and hope I’m making beautiful memories for my own kiddos xx Merry Christmas to you! x K

  12. Lovely post!
    We’ll be at the coast with the in-laws. There will be beach cricket and surfing in the morning (with me reading a book on the beach), TV, aircon and an afternoon nap, followed by too much food and alcohol each evening. Then sleep. Repeat.
    Merry Christmas!
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

  13. I’m currently staying in a 3 bedroom house 4 hours from home with 14 other people. It’s a pre Christmas cousin fest and I’m loving it. Christmas Day will be at home though, and a much quieter affair with friends.

  14. Rocky Point Road! I travelled along that road many times in my years living in Sydney. I had friends in Cronulla. This was such a lovely post reminiscing Christmases of yore. I miss my grandparent’s Christmas dinners too and they were very similar to yours. It’s been a rollicking, hilarious ride reading your blog posts this year Mumabs and I feel as though you and I are friends. Merry Christmas to you, Mr Mumabs and your gorgeous girls xx

  15. What a fabulous Christmas. It would be fantastic to have so many cousins! Merry Christmas xx

  16. How lucky you are to have such wonderful Christmas memories. My last grandparent died when I was 7, so I have no such stories.
    Hope you have a lovely Christmas.

  17. My memories of Christmas growing up, revolve around Dad setting up the weber kettle BBQ so that we would have a slow cooked turkey that was out of this world! For us this Christmas, we’re having a bit of an “orphan” christmas with some friends which we are hosting. Have a lovely Christmas

  18. There is never enough crackling. As long as I get there before my Uncle Johnny, I should be right. No doubt he will bring his posse of varied dogs of all shapes and sizes. My mother is dreading it.
    Have a good one Mumabs x

  19. Your post brought to mind so many memories from my childhood Christmases 40 years ago … before my family was torn apart by mental illness and divorce. I feel blessed to have such memories, as I don’t think my younger siblings can remember the happier times. Here’s to making fabulous Christmas memories for our own children and families!

    Visiting today from #teamIBOT xxx

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