December 25

This is a tweak of a piece I wrote in 2010

Christmas is here already and, before you know it, it’ll be the next one. And they told us technology would give us more time. What a lot of poppycock. What a con. We have less time. Australians are working longer and harder than ever. We have to. We must. It’s imperative. Is it?

I remember it well, that day, about this time of the year, when mum asked me to ride into town to buy a fresh loaf of bread and a bottle of lemonade. I rode to the baker, bought the warm bread, all wrapped up in tissue paper, and was halfway home before I remembered the lemonade so I turned back and it was only then I noticed my hand had been hard at it, ripping soft bread from the middle of the loaf and stuffing it into my open gob.

Mum

For a brief second I panicked, but then my clever little brain realised I had just enough for the lemonade and another loaf. I bought both while my hand continued to rip and stuff, rip and stuff.

Halfway home again, belly bloated, I decided to lie down on the side of the road. I daydreamed, dozed and two hours later got up and continued on home. When I got there, mum was so busy in the kitchen she barely noticed me sneak in.

I often hanker for those days when time was timeless, meaningless and only one in five wore or could afford a watch.

Just in case you have forgotten, or never knew, time is a human contrivance. Nature doesn’t recognise it. We made it up. Skinks don’t know the time. Kangaroos couldn’t care less. As for magpies, well, they have a rough idea because they keep a close watch on all our comings and goings.

For those of you who feel a hanker coming on, here’s a tip for the 25th: ignore the clocks and watches, don’t organise too much and try and find a soft grassy patch to lie on and let your mind wander.

Yes, life is short, but you don’t have to rush it.

My favourite festive periods were those spent at the family’s beach house in Safety Bay. Back then we might take a day to catch a feed, most of the night to eat it, and around a week to clean up the mess.

Back in Bridgetown we lived on the edge of town in a cluster of Dousts and some years all of us would gather at my Grandfather’s and rip into what seemed a massive pig, laid out on a huge table with a granny smith in its mouth.

One of my uncles liked too many sherries and the other one too many beers and a cousin had a hanker for whiskey. By the end of the day, and the pig, the grassy knoll was full of tired and emotional bodies flung out to dry.

Pop

Looking back on all Christmases past, my favourite festive days were spent on my brother’s Bridgetown farm, because by then we four boys were all grown men with wives, sometimes new ones, and children, not always our own, but none of us had lost our love of action.

My farmer brother would make a water slide down his back yard into the river and everyone armed themselves with water cannon, water bombs, buckets, anything to ensure no-one left un-drenched. The party ended one year when the farmer brought out his fire fighting equipment and blasted an older family member into the river and we had to drive 145kms to Augusta to recover him.

Whatever you do this year, do it slow, do it with warmth in your heart and have a bloody good time.

The gang

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