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The Christmas that nearly wasn’t

Name your best Christmas, my parents said to me the other day. My best… the most memorable… the most exciting?!

To be honest, I can only remember Christmas’s from eight years up – the first eight years were a mist of hazy snapshots, smells, and tears (most likely mine because I was the youngest of three girls). From eight years on, I remember more.

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Christmas deflated

I don’t really remember much about my early Christmases but this one was different.

This was the year I got a big blow-up beach ball. It was almost as big as me, bright and colourful – and the only ball I could catch at the time!

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A Christmas story

Some Christmases stand out. The one where I pushed my sister’s face into the pavlova because she was annoying me, that was one of those. The one I spent in England with a vegan family with a carnivorous father with nut roast as the centrepiece.

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Plum pudding and plonk

My mother was a caterer.

She worked from home with the help of my step-father (heavy lifting duties and general run-about) and daughter number three, aged 10 years (me, baker of pavlovas). She provided good honest food for friends’ and relatives’ weddings.

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Bike – freedom!

What’s your favourite memory of Christmas? somebody asked and I knew in a flash. It was a Rudge. Barely recognisable as a brand now, almost comical – rhyming as it does with fudge (almost as good but more readily available) and more unfortunately, with sludge…

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From the Archives: Neighbourhood alert

“Never fall out with your neighbours”, my wise father once told me. I’ve done my best over the years, but it’s not always that easy. I remember shaking the hand of a new neighbour years ago, as a form of welcome, only to be told by that ‘we’re not really neighbourly types’. These people have since become ‘good neighbours” in the best sense of the term.

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Ghostly memories

Long ago and faraway we hitched a ride to Queenstown. It was 1960 and we two 16-year-olds walked down the road to the township and the glittering waters of Lake Wakatipu. We expected to see a township but this was really a little burg, like all the small towns we’d passed on the way South.

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