December 21st, 2005


Week 50: Family

Well, given my trip to visit my Grandparents just recently, I was thinking that maybe everybody could write a happy memory or funny story about their family. I know not everyone gets along with their family, but since it’s Christmas and the season of good will, I thought it might be a good way of looking at the positive side (and preparing to deal with all those relative descending from on high!)”

The Palmer family are a close bunch. My Dad is an only child, and my Mum’s two brothers have lived abroad all their lives. We grew up without really knowing our three cousins who lived in Canada. My enduring memory of any family occasion, is my Mum taking pictures and at least one member of the family making a face. She would get so livid and we’d all just giggle! Hence the photo for this post. This photo was taken one weekend when (amazingly) we all managed to get back to Bristol to celebrate my Dad’s 60th Birthday. My brother (plus his latest toy, a SLR) was in charge of making a permament record of the event, and we all reluctantly trooped out into the garden on a cold March afternoon. And high spirits took over and we all pulled faces! However, let me introduce the players…

Mum / Pauline (looking pissed off / stressed cos we’re all mucking about)
The Birthday Boy / Dad / Martin doing his Abraham Lincoln (or Abe the Sea dog) impression
Jenn (Chris’ then fiancee, now wife)
Alan (darling hubbie)
Kate looking about as normal as Palmers go
Snoopy the dog (trying to get guidance from his Master, ie my Mum)

The history of pulling faces in photos goes back a long way. There’s a perfect photo of the three of us at my sister’s Christening. We’re all sitting on our Parent’s bed, and Mum is trying to take “The Christening Photo”. So, Kate is a babe in arms, Chris is 2.5 and I’m 5. Myself and Chris have been giggling, mucking about and generally trying my Mum’s very short patience. Finally we decide to call a truce and we smile angellically (at this age we are very photogenic golden haired children! Shame it didn’t last…) It’s at this point that trapped wind or bad temper gets the better of Katharine, and as my Mum clicks the shutter (thinking no doubt, “perfect, the 2 devil children are finally smiling!”) Katharine pulls the most perfect grimace. Cue giggles and nonsense and the end of the photo session.

My poor Mum, all she ever wanted was nice photos of her family and we spoiled nearly every one. We’d only ever behave when she had NEARLY lost her temper! And now I’m all grown up and now that I’m taking lots more photos, I feel very guilty and ashamed. I’m beginning to realise the benefiting of documenting a family’s history and I just wish we had more perfect family photos and less rejects!

Week 51: Holiday Thoughts

As requested, this week’s homework is a light one. Pick one or more of the following to write on. If you do not celebrate the holidays, feel free to write on any special memory from this time of year, or other favorite tradition.

1) What do you want for Christmas? Why? If you could have anything, what would it be?
2) What is your favorite holiday memory?
3) How do you celebrate the holidays? Do you have a favorite tradition?

I have so many good Christmas memories! It’s been so interesting reading about other people’s traditions. As a child, the highlight of the day was opening our stockings in our parent’s bedroom, we’d all crowd in and fight for the best place in the bed (ie not at the foot end without any blankets!) This tradition continued until we were really far too old (or rather, I was too old!) for this. My parents very sensibly made a distinction between the stockings presents which were small and came from Father Christmas, and their main presents which we would open before going to Church. All other presents had to wait until after lunch and until after the Queen’s speech!

Our stockings presents were great though. Always a satsuma in the bottom, lots of nuts and chocolate money. Plus lots of silly things, like hats, deely-boppers, things that flew, jokes and a few useful things like stationary. And the stocking would always feel really heavy because my Mum (who is nothing if not thrifty) would always manage to get a 3 for 2 bubble bath offer at Boots! So we’d always have a MrMatey in there somewhere.

One Christmas, Chris (2nd child) told Kate (youngest child) that Father Christmas didn’t exist. And since Kate was still young enough to ‘believe’, I felt it my sisterly duty as eldest to rectify the situation. Hence, the whole family (ie me, brother, sister) wrote letters ‘apologising’ to Father Christmas for our non-belief! Oh, I was a nightmare-ish bossy big sister :-) Since we’ve all grown up, Christmas has got more staid and boring.

Last year we were all in Bristol (see photo). And this year Chris and Jenn are celebrating with her family in Canada, whilst Mum, Dad and Kate are coming here. I’m “doing Christmas”. For those non-british readers, to “do christmas” doesn’t just mean to play host. It means that you are the host with the most, responsible for all the food, booze, christmas cake, christmas pudding and entertainment. You are also indirectly responsible for mediation during the inevitable family arguments! This is my first time (I’m a christmas hostess virgin!) and I feel as though I’ve finally grown-up :-)
Christmas, I love it!

Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2006 to all my friends and livejournal :-)
Thank you for your friendship, support and comments since May this year!