Christmas Like it Used to Be

In the first issue of our local newspaper for 2007 the following article appeared. It illustrates Christmas in Australia from the point of view of our senior citizens.

I located the author, Ron who will be 87 next month, and obtained his permission to reproduce it here. He advises that his youth was spent in Gladesville and when he married he and his wife built their dream home in Panania both places being suburbs of Sydney, NSW.


Things have changed so much since I was a young bloke. I'm wondering just who I can blame.

Only been one Nuclear bomb tested lately so we can give them a miss but surely someone must be ready to come clean and admit they've made a bit of a blue somewhere.

Look at the weather these days. Yes I know it was always hot at Christmas and New Year and you could count on that but not anymore. Nowadays it's either too hot or it's cold. And it's seldom wet which is a bit of a shame. Can't blame the AWB (Australian Wheat Board) for the changes or North Korea or any of New South Wales Cabinet Ministers no matter how much Right or Left Wingers may want to do.

And it's 2007 so no longer can Y2K shoulder anything. Remember when we entered the Twenty-first Century. Remember how everything was going to get out of kilter and clocks would stop, computers would all die and we'd run out of food and water. It was surprising to wake up on January 1, 2000 and find the fridge was still running and the car started. What the devil to do with the cupboards full of Baked Beans and the baths full of fresh water. Still we got over that one.

But Christmas doesn't seem to be like it was when I was young or any of you readers who are a bit long in the tooth. Can't remember how many years it's been since I woke up on Christmas morning to the sound of toy trumpets or saw a Three Wheeler Bike. Not too many dolls or prams about either.

Bucket
Note the bucket and spade
in this photo taken in 1960.

Maybe it's the pill. And I wonder if they still make buckets and spades. All boys and some girls too, got a bucket and spade at Christmas. And what about the Christmas Stockings. Yes I've seen a few but they're not like they used to be with that little bundle of lollies in the toe and the useless little coloured tube with coloured paper streamers coming out of its top. Everybody got a Stocking even if they didn't ask for one.

And look at all the chooks about these days. When I was a boy you only saw a chook on Christmas Day. And they were baked in a real oven with real fat and basted and full of home made stuffing full of breadcrumbs and herbs. Chooks weren't grilled on a rotisserie or spun around in a Microwave and didn't they taste good.

You always had a hot dinner on Christmas Day with crispy baked potatoes and pumpkin and lots of gravy and that was always Puddingfollowed by the Christmas Pudding usually cooked in a cloth in the laundry copper and if the family was flush there were always some threepences to collect. Surprising what a threepence would buy when we were very young too. And there was always a cake too with Almond Icing and Silver Cashews. Has anyone seen a Silver Cashew lately?

Yes I know we live in a hot country where Christmas comes in summer but it still doesn't seem the same with prawns and oysters and cold salads on the table.

Santa has changed too. Remember when you wandered through a heap of cardboard caves in one of the big stores to see the old gentleman. Remember when he asked you if you'd been good and actually put your name in a book. He never asked you to have your photo taken with him either and there were never any Elves or a Mrs. Santa about. Maybe in those far off days they were too busy at the North pole.

And where are all the Cowboy and Indian Suits these days. Don't kids play 'Bushies and Bobbies' any more? My grand-children tell me Nintendo is the go these days and so they never go outside and have a street game of cricket with a tennis ball and a garbage tin as the wicket. Still if they did they'd probably get run over. Nintendo is beyond me and I'm far too old for Street Cricket so I guess I am part of the changes too.

If those few lines bring back memories to you then you have to admit that like me you are getting a little long in the tooth. Maybe some of the changes were overdue but that chook tasted good didn't it.

At least we can still wish our friends, and our foes too a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and mean it, so maybe things haven't changed that much after all.     Ron