As a child growing up we just simply could not wait for the day when we got home from school to find our Mother had put up the hand-made decorations in the kitchen. Bright colourful ribbons of crepe paper danced across the kitchen ceiling.

Twisted some and criss-cross folded others. In each corner hung a Christmas bell. They were flat and when you opened them up and clipped the clip, they presented as a most pretty bell. The Christmas tree of course was a real pine and took pride of place in the lounge. They even hung colourful lights outside the house. Not like the little ones you see today: these were the real McCoy, a full sized coloured light bulb. Christmas Eve, all the Aunts and Uncles would come over. Blackberry Nip, Sherry and Pims come to mind. I suppose the men had a beer; being a female child, I was only interested in the Ladies (my Aunts) who were beautiful and  teetered ever so carefully upon very, very high stilettos, and boy could they talk! We watched in awe.

The children all played outside until dark and then we were allowed in to have brief visits with them all. How old was I then? Perhaps 8? My! That was 60 years ago. I wonder, does anyone put up decorations in their kitchen today?

I remember all my Aunts and Uncles all fondly today and sadly most have passed away. Being that we had 5 children in our family, Mum and Dad could never afford very much but Mum was a wonderful knitter and sewer. I remember with delight my very first ‘stiff petticoat’. It could stand on the floor all by itself. Mum had also made a polished cotton dress to go over it. I was over the moon and this was made even more delightful as my Aunty Gladys had bought my sister and I a spray bottle of perfume. Wow! Something bought from an actual shop instead of being homemade and all these years later I can still remember its name: “Electric”

We carry on this tradition and our grandchildren make those same decorations from crepe paper folding and twisting. No thumb tacks today – we are up with the play with blue tack. To see the look of joy on the grandchildren’s faces is a delight, because they created the decorations. The Christmas tree is now replaced with a fake job 6 foot in height and each and every year it has different decorations added to it – all made by the various grandchildren. I smile as I see decorations made by them with their name and age in childish writing, as they are now in their 20s, but still the younger ones still keep adding. Happy Christmas to all.

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Diane Vivian is the founding member and chair of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust NZ. When in 1997, Diane Vivian took over the care of her small, traumatised grandchildren, she could not believe the stress she encountered. Setting about to discover what help or support was available in 1999, she found there was none! The organisation formed to meet this need salutes all Grandparents/kin who have taken in Grand/kin children and put the needs of those precious ones before their own.

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