A Marathon Milestone

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Most of April seems to have slipped by in a whirl of socialising.  The reason behind it all was my birthday.  Not just any birthday, but my 60th birthday which is quite a milestone.

The celebrations were nicely spaced out over about 3 weeks and included lunch with my work colleagues early in the month followed by a morning tea at work for all of the April babies, 6 days in Tasmania with GMan and finally, a lunch for family and friends on Sunday.

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GMan and I with the amazing cake which was a fitting finale to a lovely meal and a fantastic few weeks of celebrating.

Everything should settle down to the regular routine now and hopefully blog posts will return to reasonably normal intervals.

 

Christmas 2017 – A Review

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Christmas is over for another year.  I did not write about Christmas preparations because there really were not any preparations.  We arrived back at the beginning of December from our 4 week trip to the UK.  I had organised a week at the beach earlier in the year and bought experience gifts for our daughters and granddaughters.

I planned the menu, gathered up the food and utensils as well as some beach attire and headed off last weekend.

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We had a delightful week of relaxation and casual living.  The biggest decision I had to make was whether to do some more of the jigsaw or play another game of ‘Upwords’.

My daughter and I went to church on Christmas Eve.

The menu for Christmas Day was chosen to fit with hot weather at the beach and there were next to no leftovers.

Proscuitto wrapped asparagus and haloumi
Cold curried chicken
Rice
Parsley and cranberry crusted salmon
Mango and avocado salad
Beetroot and feta salad
Green bean salad with slivered almonds
Meringue roulade with berries and pistachio nuts

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A couple of days after Christmas I finally wrote a Christmas letter and emailed it to my close friends.

So, that was it – no tree, no decorations, no mad rushing around choosing gifts for the sake of it, no looking for a hundred ways to serve ham in January.  I know that this is simply not feasible for many people but every second year our Christmas is an adults only affair so we can approach the day quite differently.

I feel as though I drifted through the second half of 2017 in a haze of inertia following the death of A (our daughter’s partner) in May so relaxing with all of my immediate family was just the antidote we all needed.

I don’t have any major resolutions or grand plans for next year, however, I look forward to 2018 with the optimism that seems to greet every new year.

I hope your Christmas was what you had hoped and all the best for the New Year.

My next blog post will be looking forward to 2018 which conveniently begins on a Monday.  I  like the idea of a nice, neat start to the week and year.  Anyone else feel like this?

Small Bites

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I am still taking small but consistent bites of what needs to be done.  I have decided that I am simply not going to hurtle madly towards the end of the year and get mixed up in the pre-Christmas rush.  I have no need to so I simply won’t.

Christmas Shopping

That is not to say that I am avoiding Christmas.  I will do what suits me and my family in a manner and time frame of my own choosing.  There are 5 full weekends before Christmas.  We have social engagements to attend on the next 3 weekends – 2 are family birthdays and the other is a casual Christmas gathering for the residents of our street.

I have planned (and in some cases bought) Christmas gifts for our daughters and granddaughters and have ideas in place for other family members.  I have begun planning our menu for Christmas Day.  I need to write a Christmas letter to send to friends and relatives.  Most of these are emailed so only a few cards to be bought.

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We have a Christmas tree which we will put up in mid-December.  I do not have a particular theme – the Christmas decorating is low-key and the same each year.

Christmas is an opportunity to spend time with those closest to us not an excuse to buy more stuff, create more debt, eat too much and generally stress ourselves unnecessarily.

Planning For Christmas

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It is a little over 7 weeks until Christmas so it is time I at least gave some thought to plans for the festive season.

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This year we will be at home for Christmas and most of the family will be joining us with some coming from interstate and overseas.  It is a few years since we have been at home for Christmas Day as the last 3 years have included 2 Christmases in Melbourne and another at the beach.  I am looking forward to the opportunity to be together and share a meal on Christmas Day.  That is the essence of Christmas for me.  I expect there will be fun times and other meals to share during the extended break at that time.

I will most likely be catering for 9 adults and 3 children (9, 7 and 6).  There are food allergies/preferences to consider so there will be no gluten, seafood, nuts, roast pork or kiwifruit.  I will have to put my thinking cap on as I like to come up with some new things to try as well as tried and true favourites.

We tend to keep the gift-giving modest and low-key as most of us do not really need more ‘stuff’ in our lives.  I try to include experience gifts for our grandchildren as they will remember those far more readily than another pile of toys.

What do your Christmas preparations include?

 

Christmas Cheer

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Unlike some other years I have written very little about Christmas this year.

We decided not to put up the tree this year as we will be away for Christmas.

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Yesterday we had a small Christmas celebration with my immediate family as we will not see them on Christmas Day.  We went out for a casual lunch, then went to the local playground so that our 2 granddaughters could use up some excess energy.  Finally, we adjourned to my brother’s place were we shared some sweet nibbles and drinks while we opened our gifts.  It was a low-key but perfect day.

The only thing that I had not done was send cards/letter/emails.  This afternoon I sat done and wrote a generic letter, added a couple of relevant photographs and sent it off to various corners of Australia and overseas with a couple of clicks.  I still have a small number of cards to post and I will do that tomorrow and hopefully they will still arrive in time for Christmas.

I am not sure how many blog posts will happen over the next week so I will take this opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a safe and peaceful New Year.

 

Christmas – Traditions & Expectations

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It is less than 3 weeks until Christmas and there is no doubt that it is one of the most stressful times of the year.  This is partly due to the pressure we put on ourselves as a response to the media and advertising hype that invades our lives.

The images and expectations are thrown at us every day but reach a crescendo at this time of the year.  Perfect gifts, on-trend decorating, mountains of food and joyous relationships are portrayed in all types of media.  We have been exposed to these expectations for our whole lives so we continue to burden ourselves with our quest for the ‘perfect’ Christmas.

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Then there are traditions.  The definition of this innocuous little word is:  “the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way”  Many families have traditions around Christmas and this can be a lovely touchpoint, especially for children.  It could be putting out reindeer food on Christmas Eve, hanging stockings on the end of your bed, going to Midnight Mass, viewing Christmas lights in your suburb or putting up the Christmas tree on a certain date.  All of these and many other little things are what can make Christmas special for your family.

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The problem with traditions is that they can actually be a cover for a guilt trip.  You know the scenario – “but we always have hot turkey lunch” – when you would really rather be playing cricket at the beach and eating a burger from the deli across the road.  That might be a bit extreme but it is an example of the sort of situations that arise every year in many families.

Expectations need to be modified as children grow and families take on different forms.  What is a fun activity for a 5 and 8 year old might be utterly tiresome for those same children 10 years later.  Trying to force them to conform to ‘traditions’ that you set up will only drive them away.

The addition of partners adds a whole new dimension as they have their own family and that needs to be respected, too.  In time there will be grandchildren and the whole cycle begins again.

The end result of striving for the perfect Christmas is generally less than perfect and can be downright horrible so perhaps it is time to reassess.  Set realistic goals, enjoy the moment and don’t set yourself responsible for the behaviour and happiness of others – that is their responsibility.

What is your experience?  Do you have traditions?  Are you prepared to let things go as circumstances change?

Happy Birthday

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On this day, 33 years ago my life changed forever with the arrival of my first-born child.

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There was no internet, Skype, Instagram or Facebook.  We did not even think to take a photo while in hospital.  This is the first photo of our newborn daughter at 7days, once we were home from hospital.

It seems like yesterday but so much has happened in those intervening years.

There have been highs, lows and plenty of challenges but I am so proud of what she has achieved and the woman she has become.

2015-09-03 02Happy Birthday, darling and best wishes for an amazing future.