Merry Christmas to all…

A year has passed already and it truly is hard to believe.  I had been blogging for just 11 months when Christmas rocked around in 2012, and here it is again… You can read my many 2012 posts by clicking HERE.

"Mine host" tucking in...

“Mine host” tucking in…

Last Christmas it was my pleasure to host Christmas Dinner which we hold in the early afternoon, everyone contributes and the host adds the extra “bits ‘n bobs“.  One of our traditions is that if anyone has a friend and/or knows someone with nowhere to go for the Christmas “nosh up”, they’re automatically invited to dine with us. Last year my youngest son’s friend David joined us as his family were away on holiday. Here we are having a great time of it. Cool enough to enjoy the outdoors but not so hot we needed to hover inside under the air-con.

Great tucker... I think I am done

Sylvia, Pat & Culllen... happy times

Our Pied Piper... Lisa Lynn

This year it’s expected to reach 34deg in Adelaide, South Oz.  Not too hot…  phewww!!!     😯    but warm enough to enjoy my daughter and son in law’s pool. They are this year’s hosts and the weather will be perfect for it.

The clock has just clicked over… it’s Christmas Day 2013, and whilst cooking I’ve been enjoying some of my favourite Christmas songs so I’ll share a few before toddling off to bed.

This post provides a clue as to why this is a favourite of mine…. plus I also adored John Lennon    😆

Always played on Christmas Day, when the children were young.

Crazy and corny but I love it. Sad to think that in just a few short years the Aussie icon, the Holden, won’t be made here in Elizabeth, South Australia… just down the track from me    😥

For those who are grieving, you may get some comfort from this post on my “sister blog”…

That’s all from me for now… “Merry Christmas to all and to all, a Good night!!!”

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Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel

Genealogist’s Christmas Eve

‘Twas the night before Christmas
When all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even my spouse.

The dining room table with clutter was spread…
With pedigree charts and with letters that said…
“Too bad about the data for which you wrote
Sank in a storm on an ill-fated boat.”

To read on… just click HERE to go to the Gould Genealogy website which is where I discovered this delightful poem.

“MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL… AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT”

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I won’t be home for Christmas

Christmas in the post-War United States

Christmas in the post-War United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The shopping is done, the presents are wrapped, the house decorated and lights up. The fridge is bulging with food and drinks. Just a few more “sleeps” and my loved ones will be here to spend a day full of fun, laughter, sharing of family memories and good cheer. What a joy and what a delight but still there is a sadness in my heart.

Of course I miss my mum and dad and memories of some sad times surface but there is a deeper sadness in my heart this Christmas. Without knowing it, my eldest son tapped into this perfectly with his blog post:  http://cullenofadelaid.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/christmas-and-recipe-for-gravy.html

Happens that just a few days ago I got confirmation of something I was dreading. i.e. that a dear friend, and distant relation, will not be home for Christmas as we were hoping. The Parole Board is yet to make a final decision as to whether to grant him release, “on parole”. He wrote “LOOKS LIKE I AM ‘IN’ FOR CHRISTMAS 2012. Ooo HHH WELL”.

I know he’s giving the impression of “toughing it out” but also know how devasted he is because of the high hopes we’ve all shared that he will finally be spending Christmas again with family and loved ones. Children have grown up, grandchildren have been born and it’s well over time for the family/ families to be re-connected.

Paul Kelly describes this situation so perfectly in this song which Cullen posted on his Blog without even being aware of the present situation with his distant cousin.

May we all remember those who are far from family this Christmas and open our hearts.

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Copyright © Catherine Ann Crout-Habel

Deck the Halls – 2012 Christmas Geneameme

advent-candlesChristmas is fast approaching and Pauleen, of “Family history across the seas” has invited us to join in a Christmas Geneameme.  She writes “for this meme it doesn’t matter if you’re religiously inclined or not, just tell us how important this season is for your family. For more information, and to read the contributions of others, just click HERE. It would be great fun if you joined in.

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1. Do you have any special Christmas traditions in your family?

Many … however none are “cast is stone”. Sometimes circumstances change and so we often “tweak” the traditions to fit with changing times. However, the focus is always on family coming together, sharing traditional Christmas food and enjoying each others company.

When my children were “littlelies”, Father Christmas always left a present on the foot of the bed to keep then entertained until the designated hour when they could wake mum & dad to watch then open the presents left under the tree. Worked for me 🙂

Christmas bonbons

Christmas bonbons

Also Christmas Bon Bons (Christmas Crackers) with the party hats, plastic trinkets and pathetic jokes which we all groaned over but loved… and never forgetting the “Party Poppers” with streamers going everywhere.

2. Is church attendance an important part of your Christmas celebrations?

Not for me but it is for my daughter-in-love/law and their three children, my three eldest grandchildren.

3. Did/do you or your children/ grandchildren believe in Santa?

Oh yes … This fat jolly man, dressed in totally inappropriate clothing for our HOT South Australian climate, whom we all know as “Father Christmas“.  I was the third of 4 children and will always remember how we older siblings so LOVED helping with keeping the magic going for our youngest bro.

Father Christmas has come to town

Father Christmas has come to town

You can read about that magic moment, in South Australia, when Father Christmas comes to town by clicking HERE.

4. Do you go carolling in your neighbourhood?

No… it’s never been a tradition in my “neck of the woods”. However, I do have such happy memories of sitting out the front of our house, with my mum, and the two of us singing Christmas Carols to the heavens 🙂

5. What’s your favourite Christmas music?

“Christmas where the Gum trees grow,
there is no frost and there is no snow.
Christmas in Australia’s hot,
cold and frosty is what it’s not.
When the bloom of the Jacaranda tree is here,
Christmas time is near.”

To hear St Brigid’s schoolchildren singing this tune, just click on the link below.

http://youtu.be/OZjQCOSS4pI

… and also Rolph Harris singing
“Six White Boomers”

The link below will take you to Rolph Harris singing “Six White Boomers”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FdVXca9hys&feature=em-share_video_user

6. What’s your favourite Christmas carol?

“Away in a Manger”

Just click on the link below to hear Celtic Woman singing this beautiful Christmas carol

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vftEpuxUo1E

Every Christmas I’d teach my young students all the verses and we’d sing it with love in our hearts and with reverence.

7. Do you have a special Christmas movie or book you like to watch/read?

No… I always check out what’s being shown on the tellie and tune into, and enjoy watching, well made movies on the birth of Christ.

8. Does your family do individual gifts, gifts for littlies only, Secret Santa (aka Kris Kringle)?

Christmas hollyEach of the “littlies” (although some are not so little now) always get an individual gift. As they’re getting older it’s often money for them to put together with that given by others to buy the latest technology, app… or whatever.  For the adults, it’s often a joint present e.g. a  basket of “goodies” or sometimes a Lottery ticket for each of them. No hard and fast rules in our fam and nothing too expensive … What’s important is that each person is remembered and gifted.

9. Is your main Christmas meal indoors or outdoors?

If it’s not too hot, we enjoy having our Christmas Dinner on the verandah/ patio. If it’s a HEAT WAVE …which often happens on Christmas Day, we shelter indoors with the AirConditioner going “full bore“. ha ha ha.

10. What do you eat for your main course for the family meal?

Ridiculous though it may sound, our Christmas Dinner has to be the traditional Northern Hemisphere meal, or our interpretation of it… i.e. Roast Turkey, Crackled Pork and a yummy leg of Glazed Ham… along with all the trimmings of roast vegies, baked stuffed pumpkin, peas, Mint and Cranberry and Apple Sauce, Gravy, etc.

Christmas Turkey

11. Do you have a special recipe you use for Christmas?

Well, my mum taught me how to best “crackle” the Pork which I’ve passed onto my children. Once I’d crackled the Pork perfectly I knew that all the rest would flow just like magic. Then the roast potatoes my sister-in-law/love taught us to do so they’re crispy on the outside and soft/fluffy on the inside is a winner. In more recent years, my half a JAP pumpkin stuffed with seasoning and baked has become a “must”. A far more recent addition is the baked/roasted garlic which my youngest son introduced as another delish accompaniment.

As other people join our growing family they bring with them some of their traditions which we love to include. e.g. My Canadian soon to be “daughter-in-love/law” baked some yummy Gingerbread one year andf this year my son wants for them to bake a traditional “Pumpkin Pie” to put on the Christmas table.

12. Does Christmas Pudding feature on the Christmas menu? Is it your recipe or one you inherited?

christmas pudding with custardABSOLUTELY!!! … It’s not Christmas without the Christmas Pud slathered with rich creamy custard. Usually it’s served many hours after the main meal for obvious reasons. i.e. there’s only so much rich food you can over indulge in and stuff down your gullet in one sitting. Other guests will sometimes bring a different dessert to share.

Guess you could say that the recipe for the pud got “handed down” from my Grandmother to my Mother and to me… just like that advertisement for the soup says  🙂

Mum kept a "stash" of thruppenny pieces (c) 2012. C.Crout-Habel

Mum kept a “stash” of thruppenny pieces (c) 2012. C.Crout-Habel

Seriously, my mum always made the Chrissie Pud and we so loved finding the money in our serve.  However, the introduction of “Decimal Currency” in Australia brought all that to a shuddering halt cos no longer could you put “money” in your Christmas Pud. For a number of years mum then had a stash of “thruppences” which she used as tokens.

Mum's disguised "stash" of coins. (c) 2012. C.Crout-Habel

Mum’s disguised “stash” of coins. (c) 2012. C.Crout-Habel

Recently they were discovered in an old match box labelled “thumb tacks”. Glad I thought to open in.For a fun story/ remembering of my Grandpa and the Christmas Pudding, just click HERE

13. Do you have any other special Christmas foods? What are they?

Indeedie… YUMMEEE mince pies! I was surprised to discover that originally they included meat.  Cherries are also a MUST for me.  It’s not Christmas without the cherries. Also mixed nuts, in their shells, has always been a feature on my Christmas table. Not forgetting, of course, that Cranberry Sauce, Apple Sauce and Mint Sauce is a MUST.

Christmas Cherries from the Adelaide Hills.

Christmas Cherries from the Adelaide Hills.

At one time, like my mother, I always cooked the entire meal. Now everyone contributes and some have their own specialties. e.g… My eldest son always beautifully glazes a leg of ham, his sister perfectly crackles a loin of pork along with some extra for those who just can’t get enough crackling… and the youngest son always stuffs and cooks a juicy succulent turkey.

14. Do you give home-made food/craft gifts for Christmas?

I don’t but members of my family sometimes give home made gifts, e.g. dried herbs, dried tomatoes, poetry etc… and not forgetting the littlies treasured works of art. My “memories box” is stuffed with those from my children as the grandchildren’s creations now taken over all available viewing space on my walls/ doors/ bookshelves/ fridge, etc.

15. Do you return to your family for Christmas or vice versa?

Fortunately my children, their families and I still live quite close to each other in South Australia. Coming together, as a family, at Christmas has always been paramount and also inviting along those whom may be far from family, and alone at this time, is also a part of how we enjoy and celebrate Christmas.

16. Is your Christmas celebrated differently to your childhood ones? If so, how does it differ?

Christmas PoppersNot so very differently. I’m comforted by many of the traditions of my childhood and my children also enjoy re-living their childhood Christmases and sharing these with their own “chickadees”.

18. Do you decorate your house with lights? A little or a lot?

Have never put lights outside, on the front of the house … sometimes in the window but usually it is the lit up Christmas Tree which is displayed in the window or through the front door. The Christmas Tree in the front window, decorated with lights, is a tradition my mum began about 55 years ago.  Our outside Christmas lights usually go on the patio where Christmas Dinner is served, unless a heat wave forces us to shelter inside under the air conditioner.

19. Is your neighbourhood a “Xmas lights” tour venue?

Thankfully No!!!  I love to see the houses in my street  lit up but am glad all that traffic is not going past my house.

20. Does your family attend Carols by Candlelight, singalongs/ concerts? Where?

Our Christmas singalongs, and concerts, have always been those held as part of  school celebrations. However, I love to watch “Carols by Candlelight” on the tellie.

22. Is Christmas spent at your home or a holiday venue?

As a child, we often went caravanning over Christmas. I do remember what a drama it was dad trying to cook the Christmas meat (can’t remember what it was) on a barbecue at Silver Lake, in the Adelaide Hills, 1953.

In about 1980 my hubbie and I took our children for Houseboat holiday on the River Murray for Christmas.  We stopped off and moored outside the Berri Hotel for Christmas Dinner where Father Christmas handed out the “gifties” to the littlies.

Houseboat on the River Murray

23. Do you have snow at Christmas where you live?

Nope.  “Cold and frosty is what it’s not” 🙂

24. Do you have a Christmas Tree every year?

Always when I was a child.  Was also an important part of our celebrations when my children were growing up and they carry the tradition on with their own families.

25. Is your Christmas tree a live tree (potted or harvested) or imitation?

Christmas BellsI remember that when I was a child, in the 1950’s, we were one of the first to have a “trendy” imitation tree. Up until then it must have been a “harvested” tree. For our first Christmas, when married, we had a “harvested” tree and then a live “Norfolk Island” pine tree in a pot which lasted for many years.  After that we bought a rather luxurious imitation tree which lasted almost forever.

26. Do you have special Christmas tree decorations?

Indeed!!! Always our tree was decorated with the treasures from past years and especially those hand-made by the children. As time went by, some of the more faded were culled but always a few of that year’s collection remained, no matter how faded. As a teacher, I always gifted each of my students a Christmas Tree decoration at the end of the year. I like to think that some of those still go on their Christmas Trees.

Some five years ago my eldest grandchildren gave me a beautiful glass Nativity figurines, which I treasure. They said they had too many “Nativity Scenes” and thought I might like them.

27. What is more important to your family, Christmas or Thanksgiving?

We don’t have Thanksgiving in Australia.

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My childhood Christmasses were always filled with fun and laughter and I later came to realise what a terribly sad time it was for my mum. She had nursed her mother for many months, and right through Christmas of 1952, until Nana died on 7 Jan 1953, yet she never let this take from us the joys of the Festive Season that year, or any other.

Her love and compassion awakened in me an awareness that Christmas is a sad and lonely time for many… and is made even worse because of the happines and frivolity around them. For this reason it’s an unspoken “rule” within in our family that if they know of anyone adrift and alone then they bring them along to join our celebrations.

Kathleen Mary (Allan) Crout, 1956 (c) C.A.Crout-Habel

Kathleen Mary (Allan) Crout, 1956 (c) C.A.Crout-Habel

 Thankyou my beautiful mum!!!

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 Copyright © 2012. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel.

“Chrissie Pud” …

Every year mum would make the Christmas Pudding. All four of us would have a stir, make a wish, chuck in the coins and lick the bowl. Come Christmas Day we’d stuff ourselves full to get more “dosh”, then line the coins up for mum to count.  They’d be exchanged for “clean” money and the “Christmas Coins” would soak in a bowl ready for next year.

That came to an end and the fun went out of it when, on 14 Feb 1966, Australia changed to Decimal Currency.  No longer able to use the coins and finding the replacement charms not charming, at all, we began to lose interest in the rituals of the “Chrissie Pud”.

Yesterday, to my delight, I came across mum’s stash of the Christmas Pudding threepenny pieces.  They were disguised in an old Redheads Matchstick Box upon which mum had written “Thumb Tacks“.  Mmmm … did it once contain “Thumb Tacks” or was it my lovely mum’s way of keeping little children’s fingers at bay? …

Then the memories began to flow:
–  Grandpa’s pronunciation of “thruppence” …
–  The year mum made the “pud” in a cloth, instead of the basin, and “the boys” (my brothers) teasing her about it getting fly blown …
–  The year Grandpa must have swallowed his coins because mum and I put heaps in his serve …
–  My brother’s ideas for recovering Grandpa’s coins …
–  Mum actually starting to wonder if the “pud” might get flyblown hanging there in the lobby …

Some of our “Chrissie” threepenny pieces

Happy times… Happy memories… all conjured up by the sight of that old battered box, labelled “Thumb Tacks”.

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(c) Copyright 2012. Catherine Crout-Habel. Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family