Wednesday, December 17


I find there are triggers everywhere I go.

You know, sights, sounds, smells, that trigger off a memory.

I was thinking of the Christmas preparations we used to have at school, in the lead-up to the Christmas holidays. We would make paper chains from bright coloured paper with a sticky backing. We cut strips, then cut them into lengths, which we then formed into chain links by licking one end, & forming a circle of the paper, to link all the circles together. When the chains were long enough we strung them about the classroom.

I can still remember the horrible taste of the gum on the paper. Why they didn't use water & a sponge, I have no idea. It kept the little blighters happy & quiet. The paper would come to the classrooms in piles, doled out from the storeroom. I suppose it was issued to schools as an Educational Aid. (I wonder if they still have it in schools?) Along with scissors to be carefully doled out, counted, & returned, recounted, at the end of the session. Sometimes we would be allowed to use the paper to make shapes, so that we learnt the differences between triangles, circles, etc.

I can still remember that near hysteria undercurrent, present in the classrooms as Christmas got closer. We would be allowed to make Christmas cards to give to our parents. I remember laboriously painting a bright card with Holly -bright red berries & dark green leaves. We never actually had Holly in New Zealand but most of our images of Christmas were of the variety from Mother England's Christmas visions. Including snow, which of course, we never saw either, Christmas falling in Summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

The reality was heat, humidity, Pohutukawa blossom, beaches, & long summer evenings.

Rellies would come to our Grandmother's & pitch tents on the lawn, in the early days. As the children got older, they would sometimes go to a Caravan park, at nearby Papamoa Beach, & would come for the day. Other rellies would come for the day, & leave at night, the children grumpy & tired.

My Grandmother would cook for everyone, her face bright red, & gleaming with perspiration. She was English, so we always had traditional English Christmas food. Roast meat & vegetables, with peas, probably from the garden, & gravy, so delicious, it was my favourite part of the meal. There would be Plum Duff, & custard, & fruit salad, jelly & Sherry trifle.

I think back on the small kitchen & the old stove & I just don't know how my grandmother did manage to cater to all the family. The dining room was very small, & looking back, I think we must have eaten in relays or perhaps we children were shooed off into the kitchen, which had a small table.

I don't know if SG has made any Christmas cards this year at school. I remember our Granddaughter made some things, mostly carefully selected things, with no connotation of any religion. There was some carol singing, but I think even that has been discontinued. While I dont have religion, & actually dislike carols, I don't think it is fair to discontinue the tradition because of a minority.

Reading over at Rosie's of the Girl Who Leaked Music, triggered the memory of a man whistling.

We were in a store, shopping for Christmas gifts. It is a very busy store, with a high turnover of stock, & there are usually several delivery men going about their business, trundling in pallets of stock. One man whistled. He whistled without rhyme or reason, a tuneless piercing of the airwaves, which drove me instantly insane. I wonder if he does it at home? I wonder how his workmates can stand it? I looked at the staff to see if they were reacting.

I seemed to be the only one, suffering distress.

For a time Gom took to whistling a tuneless theme, constantly repeated. It had no recognisable tune, but it never varied. It drove me mad.

I found out he did it at work. His boss made suggestions and rude remarks about it. Gom never took the hint. Finally, his boss 'had a word' to him. He was surprised, & I think, a little hurt. I guess it was a subconscious thing, but sometimes habits like that can really bring a person down!
Gom no longer whistles. Which is a bit sad, when I think about it.

There was a man shopping at Bunnings, who whistled a constant tuneless highpitched through-the-teeth whistle. I looked at his wife, & wondered if she was deaf, she seemed totally unaware of the irritation. Maybe she learnt to tune out?

I greatly admire those who can teach the mentally different. I applaud their patience & strength. I applaud their sheer, decent, honourable, humanity.

One of my son's friends taught 'handicapped' (I hate that word) children. He was apparently very good at it. He recently took his own life, for reasons I have no knowledge of. I am told his marriage had ended.
My son is deeply upset by his friend's death. He said all their friends could not believe it, as 'he was such a strong person, after all, he taught the disadvantaged'.
I wondered why, people would think that because a person has the ability to teach less fortunate children, they could not have weakness? Why they would not bow, & perhaps break, under the sheer weight of their personal misery?

On a much brighter note, I am leaking colour!! I am working with a riot of colour, & it is lovely.

A Scrappy Happy!
I am onto the quilting, which is hard on my shoulders. I keep taking breaks, slacking off as it were. Yesterday, I caught myself nodding off on one of my 'breaks'.

I sat outside in the cool breeze to sandwich the quilt. Our dining table is really not suitable to use, & my knees prohibit the old get-down-on-the-floor trick. So I use Keryn's tabletop instructions, but using clothes pegs to clamp the edges onto the outdoor table.


Kitty said...

Triggers are everywhere, aren't they? Sometimes one spots them before they can do 'damage' but often they ambush quite horribly.

We used to make those paper chains with the foul gum too: disgusting. My kids sometimes still make them, but we use sticky tape to stick the ends of the strips together. You can't beat paper chains though - I still love them today.

I love the scrappy colour of that quilt - it's going to be fabulous.


Isabelle said...

Another wonderful quilt. How do you make them so fast?

Pine needles remind me of Christmas. Got to have a real tree.

Catalyst said...

Uh-oh. I tend to whistle off-key and high and piercing sometimes, too, mostly just to irritate the cats but SWMBO growls at me, too.

And I love that Ben Harper song . . never heard it before.

Lee said...

Smells are the strongest triggers for me.

Warty Mammal said...

That is indeed a "scrappy happy"! Happiness must spring up like a field of daisies when people receive your quilts.

Paper chains are alive and well.

Anonymous said...

We did the paper chain thing in UK too, way back in the '50's. Also the paper crowns. Pink for the girls and blue for the boys. I had forgotten all about it until you 'triggered' it for me.
Love that scrappy happy quilt. The colours are amazing to-gether. Also Love your Red Square Dance. A great name for it too.

Anonymous said...

Blah! Licky glue is disgusting!

You are being very productive at the moment - your new quilt is lovely.

Henri said...

Meggie -- We always ate first as children ,( I think ? ), while the adults had a drink or two and ' yarned'& caught up with everyone elses doings . Most of our wonderful Aunties brought food too to supplement our beloved Grandmothers efforts . Do you remember the money in the cake too ? There was always a shilling tucked in there somewhere for some lucky person along with the pennies , threepenny bits and sixpences. These days it wouldn't be deemed ' Right' to put money in the cake I guess ? Never harmed us I don't reckon.
Tommy Barnett was one of the last good and Happy Whistlers in my memory -- I sometimes whislte now , but always try to make it a tune HaHa

Henri said...

Whislte ?? Whassit ??
Whistle .
I still have the remains of Mum;s Westminster too !! All there -- just in pieces .

meggie said...

Hi All, I agree with Lee, smells are the strongest triggers. Bad odours never leave, such as the smell of death... which is really not so much 'bad' as 'strange'.

Slightly surprised to learn paper chains are still aroung, but then, why not? They are easy & so colourful... minus the icky licky glue!!!

Henri, the money was in the pudding, not the cake! My MIL used to boil the coins & insist on inserting 50c ones into the puddings she made. I am not sure about the hygiene aspect, but I think our Grandmother boiled the puddings, so no doubt the coins she used were sterilised anyway!There were never pennies, it was always silver,, threepences or sixpences mostly with the odd shilling. The idea was, it was the silver coins. Who knows how many coins were quietly 'passed away'.??

Jellyhead said...

It's fascinating to read of others' Christmas memories - everyone has such different recollections.

The new quilt is spectacular Meggie!!

Joyce said...

We always had a Christmas concert at school. It was fun until I was a teacher and had to plan them. Lol.
My Mum always whistled while she worked, but she whistled tunes so it was nice.

Shasta said...

I really enjoy it when someone whistles or hums or sings. There is a worker at the grocery store who sings, I went to a thrift store where someone, maybe a customer was singing very badly along with the music. I think it means they are happy, and there is nothing wrong with sharing the joy around.

Strider said...

I love the thought of "triggers." I did a blog a few months ago about "going back in time." I used the same analogy of smell or sight taking you back to another time. Nice post. Merry Christmas Strider

ancient one said...

Wonderful memories.. paper chains.. we made those but we had to put the glue on them.. by the time my grandson was in Kindergarten they were taping the ends..

No money in cakes and puddings at my house. ha ha

Anonymous said...

Ooh, love your yummy quilts.

The scent of pine and oranges never fail to remind me of Christmases long ago.

Jo said...

I went to the Munchkins Christmas concert last night, and it triggered a lot of wonderful memories!

Gosh, the colors in that quilt are gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!

The lady who runs our cafeteria at work whistles all the time. I go down there for a quick break and some "quiet time" and her whistling drives me absolutely insane!

I hope you and your family have a wonderful, Merry Christmas!


Del said...

Red Square Dance is wonderful - I'm sure that all that red will make the quiltl warmer! Sorry I have been "hand" i-capped, it makes it hard to type very fast and "s"s turn up in odd places. But my hand is much better - no drugs today!