Six Pandemic Christmas Wreaths

As the pandemic hit Australia I submerged myself in learning to crochet and making six Pandemic Christmas Wreaths. I finished them when I was forced into lockdown due to a broken ankle.

A Pandemic Christmas Wreath of Connection and Optimism

Remember those first weeks of lockdown early in 2020, before we got jaded and screened out? That’s when it was still fun to do zoom calls. I hadn’t yet done 8 weeks of telehealth as a psychologist and wondered how many tears I had missed.

Like many others we connected with family overseas, particularly my nephew and his wife from Wellington, New Zealand. They had visited us in January 2020 with their gorgeous baby son. New Zealand entered a harsher lockdown than we did in Australia at that time so we supported each other by catching up on Zoom, playing trivia quizzes, sharing lockdown stories and Covid-19 stats. It was during one of these zoom calls that I launched my Christmas Pandemic Wreath project. I stitched love for my New Zealand family into to this wreath along with my hope that, as they hang the wreath each Christmas, they would look back at 2020 as a year of connection and optimism.

A Pandemic Christmas Wreath of Grief and Love

The impact of the pandemic hit my son and his fiancé with an unexpected ferocity. She was unable to return to the UK for her mother’s funeral and her sister’s wedding was cancelled. The ease of living overseas, where a trip home is just a day and some hard earned money evaporated overnight. If she went home for the funeral, she would not be able to return to Australia. I’m so glad she stayed. I’m also glad they had travelled to see her mum when she was ill earlier in the year.

There is no way my son and his fiancé will forget 2020. As they hang this wreath each Christmas  I hope they honour their grief and remember the love they share together, with others who are not always present, and that we share it with them.

A Pandemic Christmas Wreath of Grit and Thankfulness

Christmas wreathI worried more as I stitched this wreath.  My daughter and her partner were locked down in Melbourne. Basically they’d been in lockdown since 21 March 2020 and restrictions didn’t begin to ease until November 2020. I worried about their mental health, their relationship and their jobs. While they found it tough they also flourished creating art, furniture and gourmet meals. They embraced a buy local strategy and our birthdays were celebrated with bundles of gifts found within a 5 km ring of where they lived.

The Melbourne lockdown saved Australia from a rampant attack by Covid-19. This wreath embraces the thanks I have for all Victorians who kept the rest of us safe. I hope when my daughter and her partner hang this wreath each Christmas, they look back with pride at the intense time they spent together, the determined grit they displayed, and all they achieved and created.

A Pandemic Christmas Wreath of Family Resilience and Caring

This wreath is for Ms Forgotten Australian’s youngest daughter’s family who hold a special place in my heart. The family underwent 4 Covid tests this year, whereas I had none. Like any family, the kids, 4 and 6 years old, bought home coughs and colds which resulted in multiple tests. I don’t know any child who looks forward to having a stranger stick a swab up their nose! It takes fortitude and integrity to turn up for yet another Covid test with fearful children, who probably just have a cold.

Families like them helped keep Brisbane safe. This family, like many others, coped with disruptions to their home, work, school and leisure routine  and yet they continued to care for the vulnerable in their community. They got on with the task, complaint free, resiliently adapting to the changes. As they hang the wreath each Christmas I hope they remember their collective resilience and the way they cared for each other through this time.

A Pandemic Christmas Wreath of New Beginnings

Our nephew, his pregnant wife, their 9 month and 4 year old daughters started the year living with us as they made the move from Sydney to Brisbane. Then they bought a new home, he started a new job, she upstaged him by giving birth to a new  baby girl during Covid, and of course were separated from interstate family. Its been lovely watching their excitement and joy at each new adventure. As they hang their wreath each Christmas, I’m sure they will remember the many new beginnings of 2020, not just that they lived through a pandemic.

A Pandemic Christmas Wreath of Friendship 

As I stitched this wreath, I thought of the times we have shared with these friends this year. We started this year together in South America, a lifetime ago. While there we watched the fires burn in Australia, never thinking that this would be just the beginning of a year like no other.

As the Covid-19  raged, we were separated from family and supported each other.

As family members broke bones, we checked in with each other! Thanks for the loan of the crutches!

Together we snuck a brief holiday to Caloundra, not a destination we would normally have chosen, usually planning trips much father away.  As we walked and talked, it helped eased the stress of the year.

As they hang this wreath at each Christmas, I hope it reminds them of our friendship, the good times we’ve shared and how we survived a pandemic!

Inspiration

My wreaths were inspired by Lucy at Attic 24. She’s amazing.  You can find her patterns and inspiration here Attic24: Crochet (typepad.com)

Merry Christmas to all

I could make more wreaths, as I am blessed with family and friends who have helped me endure the devastation of the Australian bushfires, the pandemic and now a broken ankle, but I think I’m done.  Lets hope 2021 is remembered as a time we all paused, focused on what we want for our lives and made some lasting changes.

I hope you all made the most of Christmas, wherever you were, whoever you were with.

Active, Balanced and Connected – and over 60!

Road sign enjoy at 60 - active balanced and connectedWe celebrated my brother’s 60th birthday with Takaro Trails three-day self-guided cycling tour of the Hawkes Bay in New Zealand. There were four of us over 60, and one young man of 59, my husband Steven.  While laughing, riding and celebrating life “active, balanced and connected” became my mantra for healthy ageing.

Active

Riding through the Takaro Trails I contemplated the opportunities in my life to remain active.

Keeping my mind active will be easy, I hope. I love to read, listen to podcasts, write and play computer games. Social injustice still fires me up and I’m curious about the world. I delight in talking to young people and discovering their views. Even though my adult kids roll around the floor laughing at me, I enjoy learning new technology and embrace social media. I still work part-time as a psychologist and I remain committed to my professional development. I’m inspired by the hopes and dreams of colleagues and clients.

cyclists on track active balanced and connected.Keeping my body active will be more of a challenge. Despite this bike trip, and that I also rode the Otago Rail Trail, I’ve never particularly enjoyed exercise, yet I know how essential it is. I do enjoy an easy cycle at the weekends and have sometimes regularly ridden my bike to work.  I dabble in a bit of yoga, and I particularly like Yoga with Adrienne’ videos. Some mornings I manage to get myself out for a walk. My most active engagement in group exercise was through NIA dance and exercise classes. I kept that up for two years and will probably return to the welcoming group. Pottering in the garden brings me great pleasure and is another of my active pastimes. I purposefully increase my incidental exercise too, often parking Continue reading

Estranged mothers and adult children

woman sadIt’s Mother’s Day this Sunday in Australia. A day when many families come together to rejoice in the loving bond between mothers and children. A day to celebrate the blood, sweat and tears that ooze out of mothers while raising children. But for some families, it’s a day of heartbreak. There will be no bunches of flowers or boxes of chocolates. Adult children and parents can become estranged to each other. That’s tough.

Those that choose to break the relationship with their parent or child, often see it as a move of self-preservation. For some reason, the family dynamics have gone awry and the person, unable to stand the emotional turmoil, chooses to leave. A broken attachment can feel calmer and safer Continue reading

60 years of loving

How has life, and the way we date, changed since Rhonda and Arthur met and married?  This couple, my inspiring parents-in-law, Stevens loving Mum and Dad, and wonderful grandparents to my children married on 1 October 1955, 63 years ago.  They have enjoyed over 60 years of loving.

The first date

P1080380 (2)They met on a blind date.  For those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s where friends set up a date for you with someone you don’t know.  Kind of similar to Tinder except you didn’t get to stalk their Facebook page to see what they looked like.

Rhonda and Arthur courted.  The definition of courting for their time would have been “be involved with (someone) romantically, with the intention of marrying”.  The urban dictionary today gives the definition as “traditionally courting would include no sexual activity but today that is not usually followed”. I didn’t ask them which definition they followed, and I don’t ask my kids which kind of courting they do either.

No mobile phones

Sixty three years ago Continue reading

Celebrate Stepfathers on Fathers Day

Stefather and child at beach
Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash

Let’s take time out to acknowledge and celebrate stepfathers on Fathers Day.  Over 20% of  Australian children live in step or blended families, therefore, thousands of men are stepping into an ambiguous and difficult role.

Those passionate and delightful “in love” feelings couples experience in a new relationship don’t necessarily encompass your new partner’s children. And kids don’t Continue reading

The times they are a changing

Sometimes, the easiest thing to do, is to do nothing. Maintaining the status quo is more comfortable than making a change. Many years ago, I remember asking Anne, “What’s wrong with easy?”  I still like that question by the way.

take_a_chanceChange is difficult, change is confronting, and change is risky. Change takes you out of your comfort zone, so why would you want to go there if you didn’t have to? If life and work is treating you well, providing the rewards and personal satisfaction you desire, then there is no need for change. You just need to nurture the things you have and embrace them.

P1140500 (2)After returning from our six month adventure, there was no status quo. There was no normal. There could have been though, if we let it happen. It would have been very easy to step back on to the treadmill of work and life as we knew it, and that’s what we did……..well at least initially Continue reading

The unconventional baby shower

P1140475 (2)For most of my life I would probably have described myself as a non-traditionalist. While I’ve always enjoyed celebrating Christmas and birthdays I’ve never felt the need to eat the same food with the same people at the same time each year. To celebrate Christmas I’d be happy if it was a great curry and a bunch of friends and family on Boxing Day. Nevertheless, I have always enjoyed and relished the times when people come together to celebrate momentous life events and holidays. I love these rituals of connection and Sam and Erin’s unconventional baby shower delighted my heart.

The grandparents to be cant wait
The grandparents to be cant wait

We had been expecting an invite to an October wedding but that had been cancelled with the impending arrival of a baby girl. Instead, the unconventional baby shower invite arrived and offered “Beer, Bubbles and Barbeque” at their place in Sydney. At first we weren’t going to go. We thought it was a bit over the top to get on a plane and fly to Sydney for a baby shower. As the date of the celebration came closer we felt more and Continue reading

Floating down the river at Coolendel

The 29th of March 1986 (Easter Saturday) was memorable for two reasons in our family.

  1. Steve and Anne got married
  2. Steve’s Mum and Dad purchased Coolendel

P1080402I could choose to write a story about our wedding, but I’m going to share my Coolendel tales instead.

Coolendel is a unique, and naturally picturesque 52 hectare bush camping ground, bordered by the Shoalhaven River and the Morton State Conservation Area. It’s 30km west of Nowra on the New South Wales South Coast, and only a 3 hour drive south from Sydney.

Over the 29 years that Mum and Dad have Continue reading

In my daughter’s home

P1080269One of my greatest pleasures is staying in my daughter’s home.  I love that when we arrive she has cleaned and tidied the place, bought the food we like to eat and made arrangements to explore Melbourne. Best of all is that, at 26 years old, she clearly enjoys spending time with us. None of these actions are in themselves profound, they are the sorts of things that we all do when having guests to stay, however I notice and cherish them all.

P1080267If you ask parents of young children what future hopes they hold they will inevitably answer Continue reading

No Easter Bunny, but…………..

P1080303I can’t believe that I didn’t see one rabbit on our Phillip Island Easter break, and that’s a good thing. But what I did see on this Island sojourn was spectacular. Grey geese, penguins, koalas, kangaroos, draught horses, vintage caravans, a grand prix motor cycle circuit, cavorting seals, Aussie surfers, foreign tourists, tangerine sunsets and a lunar eclipse. What an eclectic mix!

No visit to Phillip Island is complete without Continue reading