Christmas memories

Christmas is a time for memories – making new ones as well as revisiting the past.

Walking along the street today and looking at the decorated trees in people’s windows, I found remembered images of Christmas Eve and the day itself washing over me.

Old family Christmas decorations

Old family Christmas decorations

My family dressed the tree on the 24th, with the old glass decorations that seemed to have been around for ever. First the lights had to be draped around, which meant checking every bulb because if one wasn’t working, none of them would light. Then carefully we’d hang up the fragile ornaments. Finally, the old tradition of picking the pine needles out of our clothes and hair…

Late next morning we’d gather round the lit tree for a glass of champagne while we opened our presents. Then it was all hands ready to lay the table and finish getting Christmas dinner ready. One of my jobs was making the gravy, stirring flour into the turkey juices and adding water and perhaps a dash of wine. It had to be done at the last minute but I couldn’t rush it or there would be lumps and then the gravy would need to be strained.

Chocolate (Bangor) Brownies

Chocolate brownies – yum! (via Wikipedia)

These memories are warm and happy and also sad, because this will be my second Christmas without my mother and the first without my partner, who died in the spring. I’m breaking with tradition completely and not having a roast dinner. Instead I’ve got some treats – smoked salmon, watercress, double chocolate brownies and not a sprout in sight. I’ve got a whole week off and I intend to relax. Oh, and catch up with my genealogy research, including (I hope) this poor neglected blog.

I’ve kept up one tradition, though; coffee on Christmas Eve with a close friend. We’ve been lucky enough to be able to support each other through a tough year. So here’s to friends, near and far, in a coffee bar on in cyberspace –

Merry Christmas!



 © Frances Owen and A Rebel Hand, 2010-2014

About rebelhand

A Rebel Hand is: about Nicholas Delaney, Irish rebel of 1798, transported as a convict to New South Wales, roadbuilder, innkeeper and farmer. My great-great-great grandfather. Other ancestors transported to Australia, like Sarah Marshall, John Simpson and James Thomas Richards, pop up as well. This blog's also about the historical background to their lives, in England, Ireland, and Australia. My respectable Welsh ancestors sometimes get a look in.
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12 Responses to Christmas memories

  1. crissouli says:

    Frances, so sorry about the loss of your partner.. Saying goodbye is never easy and it’s so hard when special celebrations are all around you. Wrap yourself in loving memories and know that others care. Those treats sound lovely, sending you warm wishes for a year of great discoveries.


    • rebelhand says:

      Thank you so much for your understanding, kind words. You’re so right – the love and generosity of friends during hard times is a wonderful thing, and good memories are priceless.


  2. Catherine says:

    Beautifully written Frances… Christmas is indeed a time for revisiting old memories and the making of new. Trusting that you had a good old “nosh up” and your treats were absolutely delish. Have a wonderful and restful break… sending much xxx and healing energy your way.


  3. So sorry to hear of your loss. I hope that you were able to reflect on happier times over the holidays.


  4. Pauleen says:

    Frances I hope your day was lovely from your tweet and perhaps there are times when one needs to break from tradition. Hope the salmon was tasty, the brownies delicious and hopefully some wine to go with it all. I hadn’t realised about your partner, “just” your mum…. What a terrible 12 months you’ve had. So here’s a virtual toast to better times ahead in 2014 and to good friends.


    • rebelhand says:

      Thanks, Pauleen. I didn’t post/tweet/anything about my partner because I’d already said so much about my Mum and didn’t want to go into bad news overload. He’d been ill so it was a long haul but still a terrible shock.
      I’ve decided 2014 is going to be one of the best years – so here’s to it and to friends all round the world!


  5. A lovely post & I am sorry of your more recent loss. My Mum is currently in hospital (since 10th Dec); & it’s times such a Christmas that mKe us reflect on our lives & loved ones, especially those not with us.

    Wishing you a lovely day & enjoy your genealogy catch up.


    • rebelhand says:

      Thanks, Julie. I’m ferreting out some of my trickier ancestors, but even using a spreadsheet (which took ages to input!) hasn’t tracked down the elusive one. Still, I’ve eliminated several possibles, so that’s useful.

      I often think of you and your Mum. It’s such a hard time for her, you and S. Sending best wishes to you all.


  6. Anne says:

    All best wishes for a Happy and peaceful Christmas!


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