Tuesday, December 06, 2005


I seem to think that this photo was taken about 4 years before Granny died. It was while we were having a bbq out at their place.

My grandparents bought a 5 acre section with a gorgeous old house on it which they retired to. It was the first "home" that I had when we moved to New Zealand. The place where I fell asleep in the bath, where I met my first Huhu bug and where my first pony came to live, also where I became a woman. hehehe

My mother's parents were a crazy couple. The pillar of our family and all it's wacky traditions. It took a while for me to get my head around it all after leaving Canada, but now I see it in all it's glorious splendour.

We had all our Christmas'at their house. We would meet at church in the morning, and then go home for the mayhem. Grandad always cooked a HUGE ham and turkey with new spuds from the garden, along with loads of beans and pumpkin. His Vegie garden was for his grand children. And every year as we got older, the garden got bigger. :)

Santa would always visit us to deliver the presents - it would often be someone who didn't have any family that would come and join in the fun, dressed as santa with a very special mission. We would have the presents distrubuted to everyone.... all 13 grand children, the 3 daughters, 3 sons in law, and whoever else came to join the party. After that, it would be time for a HUGE lunch....

After lunch you would often find a few of the sons in law snoozing on the sofa, while the kids played with the new toys, and the draw was being readied for the golf tournament extravaganza!

We would all be paired up with someone to play a round of the golf course, which changed every year, and wound its way around their amazing garden. You were always incredibly lucky if you landed Granny or Grandad as your partner.... they won loads of trophy's every year, so were the favourites. hehehe. It would basically be a round robin... the winner receiving the trophy to share for the year with their partner. (Which reminds me - I never got the trophey this year! My partner has hogged it!)
The trophy itself is quite the work of art... a person made from wire, with a club in his hand, golf ball and tee to finish it off. Classy! On the back it lists the winners from the last, guessing 15 years. Very precious indeed.

Inbetween all that you would jump into the salt water pool to cool off, and splash around. There would be people jamming on their guitars and singing away. My cousins had formed a band, with trombone, trupet, drums and guitar, plus clarinet when needed. They were hillarious, and so gorgeous.

One of the regular "extras" for Christmas was a Canadian girl; Katie woowoo. I don't know where we found her? She may have been a hitch hiker? Or may have come over to work on the Woodies farm? I don't remember.... we've missed her though, and this year she's back!! :)
She introduced the Bag of presents into our day. Now we each have to buy a small present to go inside the bag, and sit in a circle. The bag goes around and you decide if you want to open the present you pulled out, or you can pick one that someone else has already opened. BUT WAIT. Once you've gone around the circle - you go back the other way again... either keeping your present when it's your turn, or picking someone elses. Yes... imagine how that went when we were all much younger. hehe. "But I wanted the snorkle!" "I didn't want a shower curtain!" I tell you, anything and everything ended up in that bag. It's hillarious. :)

We had one Christmas at Bombay after Granny died. Poor Grandad wondered around like a lost soul that day. Often sitting off in a corner, watching us all, but looking as though he didn't know what to do with himself. A blessing that he died before there was another one?!

Now the Christmas' are shared amongst the daughters. Ros and Hugh have a bed and breakfast up on the Whangarei Heads... a gorgeous house overlooking the harbour, where we sail and kayak. Simon and Rosalind got married right on the waters edge - in fact, we (bride with her bridesmaids) sailed into the wedding. Was totally amazing! :) Always a very challenging golf course, as it's on a hill.
Anne and Philip have a sheep farm with caves on it, which is becoming more of a tourist attraction - though totally rough! Massive gardens... HUGE! Also a very challenging golf course due to the slopes. hehehe. And perhaps the cries of Annie telling us to be careful of the plants?! :) It's also totally out in the middle of nowhere!
And then my parents... our horse farm with goats, cows, cats and dogs. We have the flatest garden, but somehow, my creative brother manages to make the most technically difficult courses every time it's there.

It's funny. With everyone getting married, ( out of 13, 6 are now married) we kind of wondered what would happen to the huge family Christmas.... but it would seem it's just doubled in size! hehehe. Anyone who marries into the family is instantly apart of the chaos. It actually surprises me in a way that even the girls who have married in love it as much as all of us. I somehow think that once you've experienced one of our crazy days, you don't want to be anywhere else. I could of course be completely bias to it all.
My cousin, Ellie and her husband, Josh arrived back from England the weekend of Dave's wedding back in Oct, and while I think they quickly stoped in to say hi to his parents - they were quickly whisked down to our place for the wedding for the whole weekend. We talked about it, and Ellie said she didn't think she would be quite so keen had it been for Josh's side of the family - but he knew what we were like.... how you just don't miss something like that. hehehe. Poor guy was completely shattered by the end of it all and finally got to catch up with his family at the end of it all.
Anyone who has married in has certainly become such apart of the family.... all my cousins wives are totally my cousins, even some of my cousins cousins are considered to be my own. hehe

We are a completely blessed bunch, and it's very cool that we are so able to invite other people along to join in the fun.

So... while I've tried to explain it all to my South African friend, Jiljane who is flying up with me this year... I don't think I can fully do it justice. It's a tradition. One filled with love, and laughs. One that started more years ago than I've been around for. And one that won't be ending any time soon, while the family continues to grow....


Lastest pic of the whole family - minus Erin and Bruce.


mreddie said...

That is what Christmas - and a family is all about - the traditions and the awesome memories. Wow, you guys really do Christmas up in a big way and it sounds like the kind of thing I would enjoy being right in the middle of.

Mom and Dad have been gone a few years now but the memories are still there to enlarge the time.

It seems to me that all the things you mentioned would take way longer than a day - do y'all do a Christmas week? :)

Awesome post, I'm all about family! ec

Mella said...

I love this post. Christmas is my favorite time of year - and your family seems to understand what it's all about - family itself. Fabulous. I hope you have a very merry merry one this year!

Neo said...

UUTW -Wow, that's a big family. Doing the dishes must be a real pain in the butt!

Using up the words.... said...

Mr Ed ~ Yes... 'tis all about family. :) and I have yet to meet someone who hasn't loved it yet.

Believe it, or not, we fit it all into a day. Most of us will all be up there on Christmas Eve, might have the christmas service, prayers and blessings at home? Not sure. Funny... so many of the family work in the church, or are super involved. Many of my cousins have done missionary stints, my brother is a youth pastor, and many have done YWAM. I guess when I think about it - it would explain why we are so close knit, and blessed!
2 more in the bunch were saved this year.... 3 more to go. wohooo! God is good! :) hehehe

Mella ~ Christmas is super special, huh. Will this be the Boss' first? or was he born just before Christmas last year? Either way, it's always so fun seeing kids faces. All the joy!

Neo ~ Trust you to think about the dishes. I don't actually ever remember that being a problem. Always a good opportunity to catch up with someone, have a bubble fight... you know, the usual. And remember... more people make light work in any situation.
Dishes aren't a very good excuse for not coming along, you know. hehe. :)

Snaggle Tooth said...

Soundz somewhat what it was like at my parents house when they were still around, a very good gathering! It's good ya get to continue the tradition.

I can't imagine playing golf or swimming on Christmas, in the ice n snow, we play cards or Trivial Pursuit sometimes.

We have a similar present "grab"-bag we call the "Yankee Swap." Never heard of going back around though, soundz like war! Last year I ended with a large "Moose" mug! (which I actually like, n other's thought was the bummer one)...

Gives ya lots to look forward too, n family memories for the ages, have fun for this one too!

We're expecting another snow-storm tomorrow, oh boy, more shovelin!