It's true, it happened to a friend of a friend of mine...

Ghosts of Christmas past

, posted: 14-Dec-2008 16:31

Ah, Christmas.  I guess being a girl, I sort of feel different about Christmas than you do? Maybe, maybe not. But I just want to share a few past christmases with you...  (Hear comes a book's worth...)

I remember as a child leaving out the beer and bikkies for Santa. And a pillow case for all the goodies I'd asked for. What a memory that man had...

One night I heard Santa bump the end of my bed, delivering the goodies! But I was a good girl, and didn't peek. Next morning, there was a mini-scooter, nowhere near the technology of being motorised, of course, also a cowboy hat, a fire engine and lots of good stuff for a good little tomboy. Imagine my surprise when I opened my Nana's package from Adelaide and there was a dress... I still have a photo of me smiling, in the dress, with cowboy hat and sheriff's badge, standing on my scooter!

Of course, we all grow up. The year 'Big Al' left (remember her?) I received a few singles from an aunt, Cat Stevens of course, and the album containing Peace Train from my uncle. My aunty made me give her back the Peace Train single!!! (Those were hard days back then...)

Soon after that, my grandfather married wife number three. She was the alcoholic he tried to save. A vain attempt. Ah, Christmases during her reign were awful. Oh, the food was good - she was not allowed to cook. (I remember her stuffing a chook once with all sorts of ancient leftovers...) The booze was locked in the workshop. Hey, everything was locked in there... Grandpappy would sneak out there and gather his cash, then sneak about distributing it to us all. In secret, I can tell you!  After lunch the wife would appear from her hidey-hole, drunk and highly abusive. And scream abuse at anyone within earshot.

I spent a Christmas day with my father and his second wife. How come these men seemed to marry alcoholics? Stepmother got drunk, dropped my christmas pudding on the ground, and made me thank God very much that they hadn't adopted me like she said they could've. Boy oh boy, never mention to your mother what your stepmother has said, that's for sure! And don't get mixed up with her a long long way away from home on New Year's Eve. I might leave that story for later!!!

I married a nice kiwi boy who didn't marry an alcoholic! We moved over here, and spent Christmases with his family. There was a great get-together at the in-laws' as they were sort of half-way between everyone... Here we saw that normal families could be as 'bad' as abnormal families.  Was it just mother-in-laws' family as my Sister-in-law believes, or is it normal all over the western world?  Who knows?

I survived eight or nine christmases before we returned to Aussie. Back to Grandpappy's and Nana Robby's... We would pack the kids into the car on Christmas eve, and travel the five or so hours down to Sydney. We always stopped at Karuah, which is now bypassed.  Which is good, as the highway was always bottle-necked there. Have a coffee, a drink, take kids to public loos, kiss hubby as they were all tucked safely into the troop carrier again (get caught kissing hubby by friends travelling the same route...). Next stop, the Terrace. On the way back we would step off the highway at Raymond Terrace to visit 'the farm'.

Then into Sydney. Blasted cabbies, always ducking up the bus lanes and pushing in just before the tolls on the Harbour Bridge. Most intriguing, (or however you spell it) were all the folks spilling out onto the footpaths at the pubs on the main road. Rain or stinking heat, they were there every year. How did they ever get to the bar to purchase refreshments? Beats me.

Nanny's house. It was the pits... Housing commission hovel; she paid market rates for rent because she wouldn't move out when her income allowed. The downstairs flat was interesting. At one stage the woman who lived there moved out leaving her fifteen year old son there. They had to remove the fittings, turn off the water and gas to shift him and his mates. Another tenant was a prostitute. She would come home in the wee small hours and sing sad songs. Too bad her voice was no good. Her son had mates over one night. Being a stinking hot summer all our windows were open, as were theirs... They were having a good time, nothing illegal, but a woman across the courtyard (and we are talking five story biulding with over 140 flats....) kept singing out 'boys, will you keep it down?'. And I wanted to yell out 'shut up lady, you're making more noise than they are'.

One christmas I was asleep when I heard an almighty bang. It sounded like someone dropping a cardboard box over the balconies somewhere. (Like once someone dropped a shopping trolley over when they had finished with it. How they never damaged anything is beyond me.) Well, all was quiet until someone stouted moaning in agony. I looked out over the balcony and someone had fallen out of our shared laundry, four floors up, and was laying there. It must have been about 11pm, on a christmas eve. Having been in an evangelistic crusade much of the month, I threw on some clothes and raced down there. I started talking to him and praying for him. All of a sudden he stopped making noise. I thought he had died. Then he turned around and looked at me. (Like, what are you on, lady?) He had landed on his knees and both femurs (?) were broken. His 'wife' appeared about that time, and was in hysterics. She was a drug addict. The police were not too kind to any of us, even though some of the tennants might have been good law abiding citizens! The man in question had got home before his woman and was climbing from the laundry into his balcony because she had the keys.  The balcony was a barred-window away. (It was easy to get into mum's house that way as she was next to the open window...)

The best Christmas we had was one year when we only had the two days off. We stayed at home. After doing secret santa for a friend - single mum with five children plus her little sister - we ran out of money for ourselves. Well, I've been there before, it's a case of pray and wait to see what God blesses us with. And indeed, he provided. Another friend brought two large boxes of goodies. We had another friend home with us, we went to church, got home early, and I opened the bottle of wine my now eighteen year old and her boyfriend had bought me. We filled up on dip etc, and decided not to eat lunch. The girls did each other's hair (it was nice to see them getting on so well with our visitor as it wasn't always the case). I slept. Then we packed up dinner and went to daughter's boyfriend's place. He was the only one there, as he had had to work christmas day at the resort where he was, from memory, general gopher and dogs-body.. We had fun, Junior played with the kittens... That boyfriend is long gone but daughter still has one of the kittens. (Miss fatty-fat, very grumpy...)

Now we are back in New Zealand, of course. Two years ago I had a breakdown, and I am trying to keep calm for this Christmas.

Church was good this morning. It's not a mega-church, actually a lot of oldies, and the children all fitted 'on-stage' for their christmas play quite nicely. I sat up the back.  It's interesting what you can see from there... One of our 'ruff-nuts' had tears in his eyes when the kids were singing, and so did I. The pianist is one of the minister's sons. He's excellent. you could see him playing with his eyes shut, just throwing himself into it. I think he's doing music at Uni... Two of the girls sang, and they were very good, too.

Me, Im just trying to get through... I have arrived at work a few mornings this past week very light-headed and nauseous. Shopping where we were called to our child last Sunday morning is hard, too. I have to give myself a good talking to. Often. One of the children, as you read the other day, is sick, and I love him/her so much it almost makes me sick wondering where it may all end. I just keep on praying... Anyway, number one daughter flies in from Sydney tonight, and we begin 'Christmas Present'

(I went looking for the photo of me in my dress on my scooter and I couldn't find it, although I found several of myself horse-riding and on my motorbike...  Plus some of me and santa.  It's too effort to put them here.  Aren't you all fortunate!!!)  Cheers!

Other related posts:
Where can a mother go to resign?
And you thought my life was weird...
What they don't tell you in the ads...

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Linda George
New Zealand

Five Children*, Three Cats*,
One Husband, One of Me.
(Oddly enough...)
A few Aussie Accents,
One dedicated Kiwi,
Several ANZACS.
Go Figure.

*One Kitty Kat...

What I write from my life might just help you in yours...