Thursday, 11 December 2014


In the spirit of Mrs Woog's trip back in time to Christmases past, I remember a cracker of a Christmas. I was nine and like Mrs Woog, my mum had just remarried after it being just my brother, mum and I for five years. And it was good. He loved us and we loved him. He was the brother of the lady next door and we'd known him for a while. The neighbours had been like our extended family for years. And now those neighbours - all four kids, our best mates - were now our real cousins. Magic. These were the kids we made towel turbans and daisy chain headpieces with after spending a day in the sun, crisping up our skin and eating frozen cordial ice strips that made our chins sticky. Sweaty from backyard cricket, wearing bikinis and terry towelling tops - mine had Minnie Mouse on it - we would pinch Uncle Max's passionfruit straight from the vine and suck out the centres. Our real dad had buggered off to pastures unknown, never to be seen again, when we were little. Let's just say he was a nasty piece of work not a nice fella. Come Christmas morning there were two things under the tree - a pair of Orange Daddy Long stilts - woohoo - and a black and white puppy.
So exciting, wonderful, extraordinary. Of course that afternoon the puppy sat in the pav on the backseat of the car and got yelled at, tried to eat the extension cord for the lights and spewed everywhere at Aunty Barb's. Nobody really cared. I loved that puppy (she lived to be 15) and I rocked those stilts. I could even jump rope in them. But as great as the presents were, for my brother and I that Christmas was about seeing our mum happy. I didn't even realise that I'd felt worried about life but I must have because I remember the relief of feeling secure after years of not being sure everything would be ok even though I don't think until I was older I really understood what I had felt. And best of all, my mates were now really my family.

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