Thursday 26th May 2022

Telling My Story. Christmas Memories Edition. #FestiveBonBon. 130/2021.

Telling My Story. Christmas Memories Edition. #FestiveBonBon. 130/2021.

When I read that my friends from blogging, Debbie from here, Sue from here, Jo from here and Donna from here too, had a plan for a one-off Christmas related link up, I could not resist.

I am definitely a Christmas ‘Kid’ with memories galore.

Team #FestiveBonBon even has a cute photo and questions. And link up icon IN CHOCOLATE colours. Nice one!

I will do my best to respond, and as I am not only a Christmas sentimentalist, but also have a LOT of photos as memories, then I think I have some ideas.


Christmas Tree – do you have one, when does it go up, who decorates it, is there a theme or is it miss-matched?


  • Traditionally (my traditions) ours went up the weekend before my birthday (30 November) because after that it was close to my Mum’s birthday and we didn’t want to take over her date. BUT more importantly….sorry Mum, is WHO decorates/d the tree?


  • EVERY grandchild does. At least those I can corral. Back in the first years/decades of being grandparents I admit I hyped the whole “Christmas at Grandma’s and Papa’s” decorating Sunday (mostly) and asked the parents to leave…or at least help Mr W with the myriad of lights, outside decorations and more to be adoring the house.


  • IT WAS FUN…frantic and the best.

Christmas music was played: Holly Jolly Christmas, Santa Claus is Coming to Town and occasionally more traditional music – see next question. I still have many CDs and playlists and they are now my car accompaniment during December.

I digress. Not a chronological post. Sorry. Not sorry.

  • Grandkids started happening for us in 1996 – the first born 2 days before Christmas that year. She got to add the star to the tree in 1997. My rule? Youngest puts star on tree. (Sadly, this year in our house, it was 71 year old me!)


  • I bought a new decoration for each grandchild each year…so 1996 one had many more than say 2013 born on. We have grandkids born in 1996, 1999, 2001, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2015. I labelled each one with date too. Some had photos in them. Before we moved house, and downsized the Christmas tree, giving our 1994 one to our daughter and her 4, I gave each grandchild their tree decorations from our house in a special box for the family Christmases ahead.


Christmas carols & songs.

I have enjoyed singing both the carols of Christmas (traditional and Australian themed ones) since I was in a church choir – I think I went to be social and I loved the singing, and got to learn some teaching skills helping little kids at Sunday School- aged 12 t0 14. Dad always had music playing in house at Christmas but can’t specifically recall Christmas songs.

  • I love to sing and in a group or teaching some kids and I may not have been a keen musician nor able to read music but I could hold a tune and loved teaching songs at Assembly and for Christmas concerts.
  • I particularly enjoy the Australian carols: The North Wind, The Silver Stars are In the Sky and more.
  • Remember for us, teaching in outback NSW was a very hot time as school ends and yet, we still put on traditional Christmas plays, songs and Santa always visited.

I have, as mentioned earlier, a huge number of CDs and even great songs from Hi Five and The Wiggles (all part of grandparenting back then) bring me joy. Santa Wear Your Shorts is one I recall kids singing at school carols too.

In a Rusty Holden Ute is one I remember a class doing back at RPS when I was principal.

I have very eclectic taste. Obvs.


Christmas books.

My favourites are always those I read to my kids, then their kids and to some classes. Way back I used to share a golden type book about the story of Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus. I had a collection of various Father Christmas story books, and Santa Claus ones too. They are now all in other people’s houses, and I hope still being enjoyed.

I loved reading them to little ones and seeing the sense of awe and wonder.

I don’t have any that are mine nor am I really interested. However, I recall a series of short stories, Maeve Binchy perhaps, about coming home and Christmas. Long gone like my memory.


Christmas movies.

As mum and then,  Grandma I would watch movie length cartoons on TV as we had broken up for the year, and it was a nice distraction to have on a hot day inside while I probably made Christmas gifts.

And here’s on oldie. Back in the early 1960s Mum and Dad entertained neighbours and friends on Christmas Eve, and Dad would drop me and bro up to local Cinema in Balgowlah to watch White Christmas or something similar. I liked it. I must ask my brother if he recalls. We must have been collected by someone, and with no RBT, and within 2 kms of home anyway maybe having a festive driver do that didn’t matter.

And then in mid 2000 teens, I found Its a Wonderful Life. I like it so much it IS my go-to each Christmas to remember ‘why we each are important to each other’

Christmas cake.

I love(d) eating small amounts of home made Christmas cake. Made my own for a few years back in the 1980s and certainly enjoyed those my mum made back in the day. I liked the tradition of making them when the kids helped stir the cake mix. For photo purposes only. Neither like(d) Fruit Cake!

I also recall Christmas puddings made by Mum and wrapped in pudding cloth. Back in the day  1950s I recall the threepence and sixpence you might find in a slice of pudding…and not break your teeth. My paternal grandmother kept pudding coins I recall. Mum’s recipe here…and no I have never made it but it’s in Mum’s handwriting so treasured as a memory.

Chocolate nuts or fruit.

Now I can physically barely eat any, but cherries (black more than red) are part of Christmas, lychees  and so are mangoes.  And watermelon. We always had fruit and a variety of fresh nuts on the table. With a nutcracker. Seriously. Only ever used at Christmas.

Christmas traditions

See above…

However, there were some when our kids were young.

  • Christmas Eve I was always tired out – school had just broken up, and husband was finishing off whatever jobs he was doing around the place, so I took the kids to Christmas Eve Mass. I know! I did it because…tradition (and I became a catholic to be same as husband and kids, none of us are no longer practising) and I loved the music and the nativity…and then we got Maccas for tea. Still a novelty in 1980s.


  • Home with takeaway & after eating,  and some last minute preparations by kids for carrots out for reindeer, one of my orange biscuits or piece of shortbread for Santa, and quite possibly a can of Coke. Honestly I can’t recall but B liked drinking Coke then.


  • Kids laid out their Santa Bag (pillowcases) and Santa Stockings under the tree…and then off to bed. We watched/listened to Carols from Melbourne whilst trying to equalise sizes and presents for kids. Not wrapped ever. But if son seemed to get more (volume wise) I would remove for his birthday in 3 weeks.


  • We then waited…and bit the carrots and poured out the water, ate the treats, drank the drink…and hopefully kids were asleep and we left sack at bottom of their beds. Tired out.
  • When they woke in the morning, I was there with the trusty camera and it was a very special start to the day. As the kids got older (7 years difference, so one was 14, other 7) I sometimes actually ‘woke’ them because we often had a busy day ahead.


  • I used to make gifts for family, friends and even our doctors…(still do, actually) and one recipe honed by me back in 1990s I call “orange biscuits”. These are still much loved by my daughter and as she was turning 50 in covid lockdown, I made a batch and sent them to her. I “will” make some for her Christmas too. I also used to make Almond Bread. Yum. But not anymore as my mouth couldn’t bear it.


What’s on the table?

So many memories here.

  • However, musts for us were Christmas Bonbons to pull open, wear the silly hat, and share the silly jokes. I made placemats some years. Even a Christmas Trivia Quiz.


  • There were always festive treats on the table before any food was served! Cherries, lollies (and liquorish allsorts were a must, along with chocolate almonds), something savoury maybe like home made cheesy biscuits and some prawns in mayo on jatz, and some smoked salmon on rye bread would have been served before lunch.


  • I used to drink Mimosas too,  Orange juice and champers…As a wee kid though, MY Papa would have cold little bottles of Cherry Cheer for his 2 grandkids


  • Then there was LUNCH.


  • A mix of hot meal and cold too. So much food.


  • Always (back then) hot chickens, leg of pork  and many roast veggies, gravy, and some cold ham, turkey,  and salads with bread rolls. And later, slices of pudding for those who liked it, with home made brandy butter (yum), cream & ice cream and for others, something from the freezer ice cream selections.


  • On a hot day we were always grateful for air conditioning if available! And a pool too….

This was at LUNCHtime…and then, by about 6 p.m. we might serve up some leftovers too before, hopefully, all went home (with leftovers) ….sigh. Food coma.

Before & after head & neck cancer & adapting to no family at Christmas time.


One of the BIG Christmas Days…where Mum – see waving hand would have cooked a lot at home and brought it with her and Dad. Happy & sad memories here as my Aunty, back, second from right, would not be with us the next year.

Christmas memories.

  • They started at Dapto in 1950s for me, with the old fashioned Christmas lunch and all the spoiling that grandkids (me and bro) get. Then to dad’s Mum in Wollongong  for Christmas dinner/afternoon tea. Not as enjoyable though.


  • By the time we moved to Sydney however, and in early 1960s, my parents agreed we no longer wanted to spend Christmas day in the car, so Christmas would be at our place, and relatives were welcome to our place.


  • We became adults, and after marrying B & I  had a child by 1971, so Christmas and having the lunch at Mum and Dad’s was great as we were staying on school holidays and then over time, we moved to sharing some of Christmas Day with B’s family.


  • We bought a house, had teaching roles  and stayed in Sydney from 1978, with a second child added, and we still trekked to my parents most times until one day, Mum tired of it all, 1985 when her sister died suddenly, and I was given the family gig. It was fine, even though the reason my mum stopped was borne of grief and the need to pass the baton.


  • I probably did this closer to 2010s ish in our family if they wanted to do Christmas. Sometimes it became very complicated with extended families so we might share present opening instead on Christmas morning.


  • Over the next decade, we would have hosted, or gone to my brother’s and sometimes to my husband’s family. It becomes complicated for sure as families grow, change and move away.


  • Early 1990s we had a brand new  (big!) house and wanted to share the new space, and did Christmas then.


  • Grandchildren’s arrival changed so much for Christmas traditions, see above, but none more memorable than 1996, when the parents of newborn J, had ‘day leave’ from the hospital to have Christmas Lunch.


  • Grandkids, families changing and more meant that there were MANY more variations to Christmas Days until 2014 when, as we had sold our house in Sydney (and all those Christmas memories 1997-2013) our daughter did family Christmas.


The stories are as above.

And with no further ado, I am going to use this post for a Special One-Off Edition of Telling My Story!

The Christmas Memories One for the LAST #LifeThisWeek “Wishing”

I hadn’t thought of that till now. Thank you ladies!!



All I want for Christmas is…

The writing of this post has given me a better and greater appreciation of my Christmas memories as a 72 year old, and for that I am









May your dreams and hopes for Christmas and the Holiday season come true.

May you all go well.

May you be happy.

May the new year hold good health for you and yours.

I am very grateful for the blogging community always.

And for my continued good health post head & neck cancer!


On Monday 13 December 2021, @HeadandNeckCancerAustralia’s Virtual Choir for Christmas will be launched.

A first for Australia! I am in it too.




  1. What a beautiful, happy and Christmassy post Denyse. You have brightened my morning and I’m glad that there are still Christmas tragics around who just love this time of year. My traditions have had to change since we moved but that doesn’t stop me enjoying the season especially with my grandsons. Thanks for linking up with us for our one-off Festive Bon Bons I really enjoyed reading your answers and looking at your photos. Sending love and best wishes to you, Mr B and all of your beautiful family.

    • Thank you so much Sue. I am grateful to have so many different, wonderful and at times sad but always loving Christmasses in my 72 years of celebrating.

      Yes to really enjoying the lead up, especially with grandkids on board as you too have now.

      I admit though, I take everything down on Boxing Day!

      Loved writing this post and wouldn’t have thought about a Christmas Memories for Telling My Story until my decision to write and join in with my lovely blogging friends.

      And sending that love and best wishes your way too from both of us to you two.

      Denyse xx

  2. Hi, Denyse – Your Christmas memories and photographs are beautiful. I felt priviledged reading them.
    Being from a completely different Christmas climate, I needed to look up ‘Santa Wear Your Shorts.’ How cool is that song?! Thank you for this warm and inspirational post.

    • Thanks so much Donna, for the link up and kind words.
      We have such a ‘different’ Christmas to the northern hemisphere but in so many ways we adopted the traditions of what the forebears (the non-indigenous ones) did.

      Hence, all that Christmas eating based on winter outside.

      Now of course, many of us do a mix of all menus and it works out.

      “Santa Wear Your Shorts” is iconic Aussie! Yay you found the video.

      Take care and have a wonderful Christmas season!


  3. So many lovely Christmas memories.

  4. Thank you for linking this fabulous treasure trove of memories. I did need a cuppa! I’m just glad there are people out there who love everything about it & have those memories. Thank you for helping to spread the joy of the season. Wishing you and yours a merry Christmas.

    • Ha, I hope it lasted the distance to read and that you might have had a dunking biscuit too, Jo.

      It was something I didn’t know (when I started) how much I needed to write and it was then I decided to add it to Telling My Story: Christmas memories. I will use the post for the last link up in 2021.

      Thanks clever chicks who had this idea for Chrissy.

      Take care and have a wonderful Christmas season!


  5. Hi Denyse. It was such a pleasure to connect with you and read your beautiful Christmas post! I can tell that family and traditions are very important to you. I loved reading about all your memories, and family traditions. Have a very Merry Christmas! xx

    • Hello Christina,

      Thank you! Now you know who I am and where I am, and both being bloggers it IS good to connect!

      Yes, to traditions and memories but also yes to me knowing what I need to let go of and let others come and make their own. It’s a tricky thing this changing of time and generations but my grandkids certainly got a lot of their Christmas spirit through their parents and us, their grandparents.

      Take care and have a wonderful Christmas season!


  6. I loved reading your post Denyse and seeing your photos! isn’t it a lovely way to share memories, traditions and family photos? Your post was so interesting and I’m so glad you joined in with us to share your thoughts.

    • Thank you Debbie for the encouragement to go ahead with a Christmas Memories post.

      I really found it great to trawl back through my mind…and thank goodness for my Christmas Photo Albums which pre-date photos by phone so I had all the lovely memories tor return to.

      Take care, and enjoy birthday weekend.


  7. It’s funny all the memories that pile up around the Christmas tree, like so many presents of the past. Lovely to reflect on them, and why we do what we do. We too used to go to Christmas service (Anglican) on Christmas Eve. Not for us now tho (I do adore Rev Bill Crews and Father Rod Bower but that’s about it these days). Having Maccas as a Christmas treat made me smile. It’s funny to remember it was so special. We never went and it was such a big deal back then.
    Lovely #Festivebonbons

    • The more I trawled back the more memories came forward!

      Yes to Maccas being a treat. We lived at Kellyville and the closest Maccas was at Northmead for many years until Castle Hill got one. Food was hot on way home but needed re-heating at home.

      I love the memories and am very glad to have them in book form and photos, and now this post.

      Take care.


  8. Hi Denyse I’m sure you’ve spread much Christmas joy with your post. I’m in awe of your memories. You have so many and they are as clear as a bell. Your photos are so joyful. Thanks for the reminder of Santa Wear Your Shorts. I’d completely forgotten about it. My grandchildren loved it. I must ask them if they still listen to it on our next phone call.

    • Thanks so much Jennifer.

      I am the memory-maker and keeper but I admit now that some years and places get mixed up and my husband and I now often have to wonder “when was that?”

      I tend to use the years of teaching at certain schools, the years of houses where we lived, and of course, the birth years of our kids and grandkids.

      I do hope you can raise a smile and a memory of Christmases past with your grandkids. My eldest will be 25 two days before Christmas and she was the Hi 5 fan!

      Take care,


  9. I absolutely love the idea of the HNC Australia virtual choir!
    This post was so pleasant to read. I love how all your Christmas memories are related to kids, and what you wrote about reading books to children and see the awe and wonder in them, was so enlightening, and it made me remember when I once worked in the Swedish state church children’s groups and there was this little 3-year-old boy in one of the groups who, as soon as he arrived, ran to me and wanted me to read to him. That was fantastic!

    • Ah thank you Susanne. Your words about the choir are touching. I know as a musician you will have an interest in how it all works out. I will, all being well, add it to my post of tomorrow once it’s live and I can upload it later in the day.

      Little ones are the best…kids have such ‘memories’ for what they love and enjoy. I am so thrilled that little boy remembered you and the book!!

      Take care,


  10. What wonderful Christmas memories you have! And so many of them too. My boys have always helped their grandmother decorate her tree too but I think the tallest usually puts the star on the tree.

    • Thanks so much, it ended up being a long post but I am glad I reached back into all of my memories!

      I love hearing other people’s traditions too Joanne. Your kids with their grandmother sounds like a lovely idea.

      Take care,


  11. It is fun to read all about your rich Christmas traditions, Denyse. Your post is chock-full of wonderful memories and good times. May we all get back to normal soon and hope you are staying safe and happy this season!

    • Thanks so much Terri. I really had a great time reminiscing too.

      Yes to ‘normality’ but suspect it’s still a way off again, thanks to this next Covid strain.


      B and I were ‘boostered’ today so that feels good.

      Take care,