The Holidays

Is excess robbing children of the gift of expectation?

Growing up, the ‘naughty or nice’ mantra would kick in around late November for us kids, when we would make a concerted effort to at least think about our behaviour. Think hard if we expected a half-decent Christmas.

Now children know no matter what they do or how badly they behave, they are guaranteed their heart’s desires. Heart’s desires which are often set out singled-spaced on both sides of an A3 sheet of paper.


Bronnie and I dropped out of the gratuitous gift buying many years before he died. The mounting feeling of unease with the mountain of gifts the children received was compounded the day we found a heaving black bag of half-opened gifts the children had forgotten they had even been given. We are a big family on both sides so a gift mountain was easy to accumulate. Still, though, the unease that we were doing not much to instill a reality check persisted.

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Black Widow Chronicles, The Holidays

Grown-up daughters and Jools Holland

This will be the fourth time I will be ushering in the New Year without Bronnie.

Not that we ever did anything too wild in latter years. Wild times were watching Jools Holland on the TV box with a host of ‘stars’ whose names one couldn’t always quite remember. “Hang on, it’s on the tip of my tongue,” as popular a refrain for us as Auld Lang Syne*.

Clutching a cup of champagne and daring each other to watch that programme to the end, always felt more risqué than groping for air in Trafalgar Square amongst the outgoing sweat and booze breath of the languishing year.

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Black Widow Chronicles, The Holidays

It’s not Christmas until the tree falls over

Some hunt the holy grail, Team Fargo hunts the perfect Christmas tree.

“Can we cut the tree down ourselves again this year, Daddy?”
“Let’s see how your brother’s foot heals up sweetie, then we’ll decide.”

My 18 year old daughter’s cheek scar? From the year Bronnie carried her 5-year old self on his shoulders through the Christmas tree forest – oblivious she was being cut to ribbons by the festive fronds he was skipping and jiggling her through.

“Bronson, Morgan is covered in blood!”
“Oh, Melinda, you and your jokes.”

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EDP Column, The Holidays

Going the extra mile brought some light into our lives

Technology makes it easy to spread negative news quickly when we have a bad experience with a business.

Had a bad meal? It is the work of moments to regurgitate that meal on a portable device and send un-complimentary commentary to thousands via social media.

So, in my last column for 2013, I would like to share a true Christmas story about the time a company did good, albeit I won’t be sharing their name. Something about no free advertising and all that!*

It was the first Christmas after my husband had died, and I came out of a grieving fog to realise I should do something for the children to make life seem a little less bleak. I decided to have our house covered in external white lights as a surprise for when they got home.

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