Today I was thinking of all the items available in the stores (and online as well) that can be bought for everyone (if you have the money to do so but then of course there are always credit cards!!)
I was born in 1932 during the Great Depression and was fortunate to be adopted by a loving couple who had a farm in the deep south of Western Australia. I don't remember a great deal about my first nearly 6 years so from that I know it must have been an extremely happy time. Unfortunately owing to my mother being very unwell we had to leave the farm and come to the big smoke "Perth". This was just a couple of months before I turned 6.
I had never been told why but it seems mum and dad had to just walk off the farm bringing with them only some personal items and clothing (all their possession from England had perished in a house fire before my birth). I was told that Dad had about five pounds ($10) in his pocket which was not a lot of money even back then. I doubt there was anything like private health insurance and as mum was in hospital for quite some weeks it would have been a drain on the household purse and following on from the depression would have left them with very little money. I do know that when I was adopted they were people of 'means' or would not have been a position to adopt a child. It is strange how families (at least back then) didn't talk about that type of thing. Now all the people that may have known are gone so it left for me to assume this, that and the other.
My half-brother drove for Yellow Cabs (a taxi firm back then when the drivers had to wear a uniform, including leggings, and they looked very smart). I am lucky to have a photo of Len and myself (I was about 7 at that time) and he is wearing his 'work finery'. I treasure that photo so much. The firm had allowed Len to drive his cab down to Narrikup (near Albany) to collect us and bring us to the city. I have no idea if he paid for the petrol but drive us he did.
For several years we lived in rooms in large houses and my memories are quite scant of those times and yet I can only remember happiness. We had little money and first of all Dad got a job going door to door selling pots and pans (saucepans etc) and then his next job was selling appointments for people to have their photographs taken which I think was mainly aimed at photographing children.
Finally when I was about 10 we managed to find a very nice house to rent in North Perth and then moved to another house also in North Perth when the owners of the first house decided to sell as there had been a marriage breakup. We rented several places after that (including when we became grocers of a small corner shop in Swanbourne) and finally Mum and Dad built their own home in Joondanna when I was 20 years of age. That meant we had been boarding or renting for about 15 years with many changes of address in various suburbs.
I have been told that we often suppress bad things that occur in our lives but I know that nothing of that kind took place during my childhood so I just know how much I was loved and cared for. How fortunate I was to be wanted as much as that.
Getting back to what I was thinking about Christmas and all that it entails in this modern age...I was going on 8 when WW2 broke out and although we in Perth were safe from the conflict itself we of course had family and friends who were in the forces (Len was in the RAAF) and we had rationing of food (butter, sugar and tea); clothing (coupons were required to buy clothing and material); petrol and cigarettes. This went on for several years after the war ended in 1945 and I remember Mum needing a ball gown and as it would have meant using lots of coupons she bought a length of beautiful shot silk curtaining (no coupons needed for curtains for some reason) and had the dressmaker make a lovely gown for her. As I was tall for my age and a wee bit larger as well I got extra coupons for clothing and as I always wore a school uniform there were no problems for me with regard to clothes.
For several years there was very little to choose from in the stores in the way of gifts and items like books were very difficult to obtain because of the shortage of paper. By this time Dad had become a very successful Rawleighs dealer and he would often go to the auction houses searching for items some of his customers were hoping to find (he would perhaps spend two pounds and make a few shillings by selling it on to that particular customer) and while there he would buy books for me so that at Christmas I would receive this large pile of secondhand books which would delight me as I loved to read.
As my birthday is only 8 days after Christmas I think there could be a combination of gifts covering both Christmas and birthday but I really don't recollect if that was so. Mum would often make me something such as a nice dressing gown and there would be a few other small items and of course always a few new shiny pennies in the bottom of the pillowcase which served as a Christmas stocking.
From about the age of 8 Mum, Dad and I always went away to Mandurah for holiday so never spent Christmas or my birthday) at home. Hence there was never a decorated tree in the house or any decorations and I often wonder what this did to my sense of Christmas. Sure, we had a wonderful time in the guest house where we stayed as the same families went there year after year so we were like one big happy family and there would be decorations in the dining room and a traditional Christmas dinner
I am sure all this gave me a different feeling about how to celebrate Christmas at home and I am not sure that I've ever really got the hang of it. My first husband was never very good about Christmas (or birthdays for that matter) and I remember that one year he wouldn't even let our children open their presents until about 5 in the afternoon and all the pleading by the 3 of us wouldn't make him change his mind. I have never worked out why he behaved like that but it was one more thing that spoiled the festive season for me. His own dad had died when he (my 1st hubby) was only 8 and I often wonder if that coloured his ideas of these celebrations.
MOH came from England when he was 30 and for him to celebrate Christmas in Australia is so different from what he remembers it being 'back home' where it was cold and you had a yule log on the fire and and made holly wreaths and it was 'just so different'. Although he loves living in Australia I think this time of year brings with it a little sadness as well. I know for a fact that one thing that would make the festive season better for me would be if it were COLD. Perhaps it is my northern European ancestry that makes me feel that way or is it I just don't like the heat of summer? Who knows!!
I am sorry if this has been a little long-winded but I just wanted to put my thought down as I am always trying to work out what makes me tick and why I feel as I do as Christmas approaches; sort of sad. I made an effort to make Christmas (and birthdays) great for my two children and I hope they enjoyed themselves as much as was possible. I do know that I get upset about the amount of money that is spent (I am glad there were no credit cards years ago) and it can also be a time of upheaval among family members when I think it should be a time of closeness. I always dread to hear of tragic accidents on our roads and losses that families must bear on those occasions. I can't even imagine what it would be like to suddenly lose a family member or friend in that way and my thoughts always go out to those families even though I don't know them.
You can tell I do have very mixed feelings about a time when people are supposedly celebrating the birth of one whom I believe was a very good man (son of God or not doesn't matter as far as I am concerned) and I feel then it should be a time for families to be together if possible and love each other as much as they can without feeling they must get into debt etc., trying to buy, buy, buy items which in many cases are put into a cupboard and forgotten. It is also a good time to think of those who are less fortunate and perhaps make a donation to a worthwhile charity who can help others have a slightly better chance in life.
I hope I have not annoyed anyone by what I said in the previous paragraph as I respect everyone's beliefs and hope they will forgive me if I've upset them at all. As I approach 80 I have my own thoughts about life in general and sincerely believe that we should treat others as we would like them to treat us. If we all lived by that philosophy hopefully the world would be a slightly better place with peace for everyone.
I wish anyone who may have got this far through this somewhat lengthy blog A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY, HEALTHY AND PEACEFUL NEW YEAR.