Today was Boxing Day. You know, the day after Christmas? That was today. I’ll tell you how I understand that this came about.
When I was a child, my family (and my father’s side of the family) got sick of having a Christmas that was spent running around. We would do church in the morning, then go to lunch with my mother’s side of the family and to the evening meal with my father’s side of the family. That’s a pretty big day – especially with little children! So Dad’s family decided that instead, they would have their Christmas dinner on boxing day.
(They also came up with a pretty cool idea that instead of buying a gift for each of the nieces and nephews, you would take an equivalent amount of money and buy a large gift for your own kids from all the Aunts and Uncles. It worked well, as I remember it. I got a snorkelling set one Christmas, and a curling wand the Christmas we were in Hawaii. I can’t remember the other presents but I bet they were just as cool.)
Anyway, time went on, the tradition continued, and then many of the grandchildren got married and had their own kids. For our little family Christmas became busy again. We either did lunch with DH’s family and dinner with Mum’s family on Christmas day and then lunch again with Dad’s family on boxing day, or more regularly we did Christmas Eve with DH’s family, Christmas Day with Mum’s family and boxing day with Dad’s family. Christmas got big. Really big, and exhausting.
So a couple of years ago, my aunt in her wisdom decided that we would just move our celebration. Instead of meeting at Christmas time, we would meet in February. It was a great idea.
We always meet at my Aunt and Uncle’s place. It used to be their shack (read beach house if you come from somewhere other than Tassie) and when they retired it became their main residence. We still call it The Shack but it’s a gorgeous house. The beach is a piece of paradise, straight from heaven. It is a very sheltered bay and from the house you can see the blue water stretching to the hills on the further horizon. The beach has pure white sand. There are no crashing waves, just crystal clear water, knee deep for about a hundred metres. And little fish. And little crabs (well, we saw one today). And basically no other people. I think there were four other families today sharing the whole beach.
Having boxing day in February is excellent because the weather is better. Christmas is a little too unstable and while sometimes we would spend the day on the beach, other times we would all be cooped up in the house together while the wind and rain raged outside because the cold front was just coming through. February’s weather is much more stable.
Today, for example, the weather was about perfect: 26 degrees and a slight breeze, no clouds, just sunshine and beautiful clear water. We went swimming, and kayaking, and one of the boys had built an amazing remote control yacht which he and DS sailed in the clear water. DH did his breeching whale impression (has to be seen to be believed). Even Mum and Dad came swimming and played with the younger kids (who were thrilled that they could hang out with the adults but still be able to stand up because the water was so shallow) and it was all absolutely delightful.
My cousin said to me ‘isn’t it amazing that we had this when we were kids and it’s still here?’ It is. It is incredible. We had this paradise to play in as kids, a place to build sand castles, dam the creek, go for brisk walks along the beach, rock hop and look for crabs, and see the fish and even sting rays swim past (they totally freaked me out). We had our summers at this awesome place and now our own kids get to experience it too – it’s still there, still unspoiled, still paradise.
But enough about the nature, the people are excellent too! As we walked in the front door DH called out ‘Mum, I’m home!’ – a throw back to our high school days when he adopted a few special friends’ parents as his own, including my Aunt and Uncle. We rejoiced in the growth of the children over the past year. We revelled in the company of my grandmother, now (I think) 97 years old – turning 98 next month! I shared some lovely banter with my mother and caught up with another Aunt and we were all so comfortable with each other it was just right. My uncle has decided to call me Dr Do Less. Sort of related to Dr Dolittle. I think I’ll take that on!
The food was also excellent – this was a Christmas lunch, after all! Over lunch we all caught up on news, shared stories, relaxed together. All in all, it was a delicious day.
This time last year my sister and brother were here, and my father was in hospital recovering from his fall. I’m missing my sister and brother, I’m missing DD and I’m missing the cousins who weren’t able to be there today. We did think of you all. But I’m rejoicing in the wonder that the day was and all the very good things. It really was wonderful to see Dad and Mum, well and happy, and swimming, even!
I remember one Christmas, years and years ago. We’d had another such gorgeous day with food and fun and swimming on the beach. DS was very young and he had joined in on everything with great enthusiasm. I was wondering just how long it would take him to get to sleep in the car on the way home. As it turned out, he was asleep as soon as we started the car. He was sound asleep before we had time to reverse out of the parking space! Today, of course, was a different story. The person reversing the car out of the parking space was DS! He drove us home and that meant that I had time to sit in the back seat and start to read my lovely birthday present given by my sister and delivered from the US by my cousin. And that’s what is pictured below. Thanks Sis!! Happy Boxing Day Everyone!