Today’s column is like a trifle; a mix of sweet and gooey emotions and a shot of booze
SPONGE LAYER, December 16.
Last Saturday was a beautiful, warm summer evening.
For more than 12 years we’ve shared Hanukkah with dear friends.
As time passes, children come and go, grandchildren arrive and new friends are always welcomed.
This year our children were absent but there were others, our understudy children, to hug and share stories. Justin, a standup comic, had come from Brooklyn, Harrison, was home from uni in Melbourne, Verity was barefoot and cooking.
Afterwards, under a warm, midnight blue sky, I hopped into our car, I missed my children and turned on the radio and found Joni Mitchell, River.(Spotify it)
“It’s coming on Christmas … I wish there was a river I could skate away on …”
Isn’t this season a mess of emotion and doesn’t music somehow bring it all together?
Like last weekend when the Singcognito pop-up-choir performed within the perfect acoustics of Neil Pitt’s arcade.
Or, later, at the Quadrant, we heard a Cuban-looking dude with a National guitar, a voice like Tom Waits and a sound like Muddy Waters’ Chicago blues. We bought his CD.
There was even live music at the hardware place. I Christmas-hugged Susie the flautist and dear friend.
BOOZE: Wednesday, December 20
“Hello Chris, it’s Danielle, I’d like to cancel my order, no. 85, it’s a small turducken.”
“I can put it in the freezer or you can forfeit your deposit,” Chris said.
“It’s okay, we’ll forfeit, our children have changed our plans.”
“I suggest you take your husband, go out and get drunk and have sex in public to embarrass your children.”
That’s why I love Melbourne and hope the world never runs out of people like Chris.
RED JELLY AND FRUIT LAYER December 1964.
The first Christmas I remember, I was given a black baby-doll.
I screamed because I thought there was something dead in my pillow case.
There was only ever the three of us, no extended family, except my socialist, vegan Nanna who preferred Christmas with her beloved dogs.
Occasionally our neighbours, the Kirkman family, would invite us to join them at their Nanna Nancy’s home.
Uncle Syd, Nancy’s husband, was the town butcher. He’d collect us in his white Toyota Crown with red leather upholstery (we didn’t have a car) and chauffeur us to their place, a gold and green Federation brick and weatherboard home on a generous corner block with tough, bouncy kikuyu lawns and puffy, dark blue, old-lady hydrangeas.
Nanna Nancy had a wall-sized, wood stove and a giant eat-in kitchen. It was always hot. We’d eat a roast lunch, have steamed pudding and custard and there was always a sixpence, hidden.
Afterwards we’d retreat to the loungeroom for cold, sherry-imbued trifle, followed by long afternoon naps on Nanna Nancy’s big soft couches.
CUSTARD AND CREAM: Sunday, December 24, 2017
There’ll be no midnight mass for us. We’ll be driving our daughter and her partner to Tullamarine to catch the midnight flight to Christchurch.
All going well, we will have spent the weekend hunting and gathering food. We will have consumed far too many coffees with all types of cakes and pastries, our favourite being a Lebanese vanilla slice (warmed) from her local market.
Flights, cats, dogs, Sally’s boarding kennels, shuttle buses, city people, city traffic, long-term car parking, such is the messy, but fabulous, Christmas trifle I dove into.
Ho Ho Ho and Merry Christmas!