Giving Thanks

So I think everyone can agree that 2016 has pretty much sucked. Starting right off with the deaths of major artistic talents, through to Brexit and Trump. For our family, we’ve also had the death of a beloved cat, who’s been there right from Iris’ birth and the passing of my 103-year-old grandmother. While we were sad at the passing of my grandmother, she was 103/4/5. She lived such a full life, I still feel bad every time I sit down for a cuppa or complain about how much housework/childcare/family administration I have to do. Here’s a VERY brief snippet of what she did: she had ten children to look after pretty much on her own, ran three sewing classes a day to supplement the family income and fed, not just her family, but the several workers in my grandfather’s tailor shop. All this while being very active in at least two churches.

With that in mind, for me, all this tragedy has reinforced the wonderful blessings we still have. In particular, the fact that we’ve FINALLY moved into our new house and while it’s not perfect, it’s felt like home right from the start. Here is THE LIBRARY. At least that’s what I’m calling it. Unfortunately, we ran out of space so Iris’ books are in the “craft room”. However, I’m hoping that there will be enough culling of things-kept-since-1980-by-the-husband, who says “I might need to refer to it” in response to why he’s kept his SECONDARY SCHOOL physics text books and notes, that we’ll be able to move her books over as well.

I decided to let her take the lead and clearly she hasn’t inherited my OCD-ness to quite the same degree as she said “just put them anyhow”. Let it go, let it go.

This is the first time in over 13 years that all my books have been housed together. Some of been culled because they were falling apart or not very good or not pretty enough. Some have been with me for nigh on three decades. Along the way, I decided I would only buy books I was going to keep. Unfortunately, that did not have the effect I intended. When Iris came, I had another reason to acquire more books, to amass a worthy library for her to intellectually sup on as she grew. As it stands, I’m pretty happy with how my collection has come along.

So it is with extreme pride that I unveil another treasure to add, which I absolutely could not resist when I saw it in Dymocks even though I am still on a self-induced book buying ban. Ha!

I’ve raved about Robert Sabuda previously so when I saw his version of The Christmas Story, I hesitated for about 5 seconds before trotting it to the cashier.

So this is the real Christmas story, no faffing with rotund elderly men with a penchant for satisfying children’s desires with merchandise.

Once again, I’m going to let the pictures do the amazing and wish everyone a better, more hopeful 2017!

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Another Kind of Resolution

For Christmas 2014, as it would be just us and the gramps (grandparents), I suggested going camping. Yup, you heard right. Of course after everyone got on board I started having second thoughts. I LOVE having my own loo within five metres of my bed, which is in a house with air-conditioning. There was no backing out, however, so I had to suck it in. What we did do, was actually “glamping” because the gramps had their luxury caravan, so we had power and cooking facilities. There were shared toilets and showers, so no digging holes in the ground, and we brought our automated air-bed, quilt and my ultra comfortable contoured pillow. Even so, after 3 nights of having to unzip the tent, walk 25 metres to the toilet and being woken up at 5am by birds having a conference over our heads, I was ready to come home.

On Christmas day we had our first bona fide Aussie Christmas with a trip to the beach in the morning, lunch off the barbe (bbq) and pot luck dinner with the rest of the camp in a large shed. Naturally the person who enjoyed it the most was Iris. She made a new bestie she played with all day everyday, had a family of goats next door and a couple who walked their cat on a lead. I might be persuaded to do it again if we get a darker tent and I bring ear plugs for all of us.

One evening, as I made my way back to our camp-site from a shower, I was literally stopped in my tracks by the sunset.

WA Sunset, Dec 14, Big Valley

Like an awesome sunset, there are children’s books that have the same effect. Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree is one of them and so is Barbara Cooney’s Miss Rumphius.

Alice Rumphius lived by the sea with her grandfather who inspired her with tales of his travels. She wanted to do everything he had – travel and live by the sea. He left her with one more life accomplishment – “do something to make the world more beautiful”.

Grandfather and Alice

So off Alice goes, travelling the world and finally settling down in a cottage by the sea. Then she remembers what her grandfather tasked her to do, but she had no idea what to do.

Travelling to Asia

One summer, she plants her favourite flowers – lupines. She spends the next year or so convalescing. The following spring, on a walk, she finds  a patch of lupines some distance from her cottage. That is her “ah ha” moment.

Ah ha moment

She then spends the summer sowing lupine seeds all around the area. When the fields, hillsides, lane-ways, hollows and stone walls all bloom with the blue, purple and rose-coloured flowers, it appears she has perfectly fulfilled her grandfather’s words.

Lupines, lupines, lupines

I’ve never made a new year’s resolution. Not one. I think it’s nonsense. If you need an impetus to do something worthwhile, the new year is not going to give you enough of one. Take quitting smoking, it needs to be something personal, something that will give you enough will power to overcome your addiction. Likewise with losing weight and all the rest of it, which anyway, if you needed to do, you probably need to do it ALL the time. So not a new year’s resolution, but a life resolution – don’t sweat the small stuff.

Creating Christmas

This has been my most organised Christmas ever. I got my shopping done in November and managed to design and order custom cards and send them off on time! Quite apart from all that, however, is the fact that this year, compared to the last 20, is made fun all over again because of Iris.

I will say it up front, I do believe in God and thus Christmas has always been meaningful. Yet, this year, because there is a little person who enjoys decorations and activities and the whole she-bang, I’ve found myself really getting into the festive mood of the season. So here’s a sampling of the madness: I created a spreadsheet to map out all the activities available this month so we wouldn’t miss anything; I rushed around after her birthday to find a tree (artificial because there aren’t any non-tiny potted ones) and decorate it and the house; I drove 45 minutes to a mall in Rockingham so she could throw fake snow in a life-sized snow globe for two minutes; I went to Spotlight twice to buy buttons to make ornaments, I braved the crowds with Ah Ma and held 13.5kg on my shoulders for half an hour so that Iris could see a Christmas parade. Did I mention the spreadsheet?

Throughout this time I’ve had to keep asking myself, am I doing this just because it’s something my family always did or is this something I want our family to do from now on? It is so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of Christmas and forget to create a personal Christmas just for the three of us. I’ve enjoyed starting my own collection of tree ornaments and baking up a storm, as well as having an advent candle, which is something I’ve wanted all my adult life but never found the impetus to get until now.

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What makes this Christmas extra special is that it is also our first one in our newly adoptive country. Yvonne Morrison and Kilmeny Niland’s An Aussie Night Before Christmas is a cracking take on the season in all its thong-wearing glory.

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From the beer and lamingtons left out for Christmas, to the kangaroo-drawn ute and bottom baring Santa, it’s a chuckle inducing introduction to everything Aussie. I know what I’m giving out to the kids next year!

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A very blessed Christmas and 2014 to everyone from the Reading Mum!

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