On my Tray of Bliss today, is the ghost of Christmas Past.
For many years during my childhood, Christmas holidays were spent at the beach. We'd stay at Burleigh Heads, or Mermaid Beach on Queenslands' Gold Coast. There'd be a big house, with lots of beds, and louvred windows to allow the evening breeze to cool us as we ate chicken in aspic and green jelly with whipped cream for dinner.
There'd be the obligatory screaming and chaos when we'd discover a large Huntsman spider in the living room...always a possiblility...and with an Arachnaphobic mother, loving the hairy legged things was an impossible dream...I still shudder when I see them. They are harmless, but have legs that stretch to the size of a mans outstretched hand, so look pretty darned scary.
We'd be up at the crack of dawn, and racing down the hill to Burleigh Beach. At that time of the morning, most of the holidaymakers would still be snoring, and we'd have the beach to ourselves. We loved it the best when it was as still as glass, with a gentle undulating wave that made us bob up and down, rather than smashing us into the shore. We'd swim until we got hungry, and then trudge back up the hill, with a little less enthusiasm, having worn our silly selves out in the aquamarine surf, to have lunch.
Mum would have boiled some eggs, shredded some lettuce and carved a freshly cooked hunk of corned beef, and we'd wolf it all down with fresh white bread, and glasses of Golden Circle Fruit Cup cordial. Then we'd doze until about 3pm.
Then it'd be off down to the beach again, maybe for a walk to the icecream shop for a choice of chocolate chip or raspberry ripple, and a swing in the park.
We'd be exhausted by 8pm, and I guess that was Mums' plan. That was the only time she got to have a break. She'd watch TV or read until late, and we'd do it all again the next day.
This would go on for three whole blissful weeks. Friends would come, stay for a few days, and there was always enough to feed just one more mouth. Damp bathing suits and beach towels were resurrected from underneath beds, where they'd been kicked in the rush for the shower, for those who arrived unprepared.
We never had much money, and to this day, I am full of admiration for my Mother, who would scrimp and save to pay for these holidays. How she did it, I do not know. I think there was some method whereby she would pay extra rent all year, to free up the budget at Christmas...she was a smart cookie.
We were easily pleased as kids too. A banana or chocolate Paddle Pop (ice block) was bliss, as was a Metro Pop...the latter, little traffic light looking lollipops that came in a packet of 20 for not much money. Even a packet of Lifesavers, had us scrabbling to choose which colour we liked the best. We'd only get one or two each out of a packet. But that was okay too.
We'd run up and down the beach at sunset, writing messages to each other in the sand, and making patterns with the shells that the tide washed up.
Looking back, it was a simple holiday, but we loved it.
My Mothers face smiles up at me from our old KodaChrome holiday snaps. We all look tanned and healthy in our neon swimsuits. It was a relaxed and happy time. I can only hope that my own children have such treasured memories.
Todays photo, is sadly, NOT of me and my siblings at Burleigh Beach in 1969. I have to confess some Techophobia, and ask your sympathy for not knowing how to scan and upload my old family photos. This is a photo of a pretty beach, surrounded by imposing white cliffs, on the Arachon Coast in Western France. It shows another little family, enjoying their own beach holiday. So clearly beach holidays are not just an Aussie tradition, but a grand Family Tradition worldwide. We are only fortunate, in that we get one of the best celebrations of the year, seaside.
What's on your Tray of Bliss today?