18 December 2009

This family of us

Today will be a busy one for me. I'm collecting organic chickens and a grass-fed, local beef roast from the butcher, ice cream cake from the ice creamery, and salad leaves from the green grocer. There will be a quick visit to see Bernadette and Miss Flora and then I'll be off home again.  Everything will be packed away safely into cold storage and I'll be free to put up fairy lights in the kitchen and decorate our little bunya pine Christmas tree.

All graphics are Carl Larsson paintings circa 1890-1905.
We don't have a formal dining room. We did when we moved into this house but I soon used that space for other more practical activities.  We dine in the kitchen - it suits us, we're a plain and practical, all in together family.  So the stage for our Christmas lunch on Sunday will be the table in the kitchen, just like it always has been and just like it always will be in our home.

I am drawn to the beauty of simple things - white cotton tablecloths and napkins, fresh flowers in  jars, and candles.  That, as ever, will be our Christmas table this year. But this year is special, this is the first year my boys will have their special girls here.  This is Shane and Sarndra's first Christmas as Mr and Mrs, and Kerry will be here with his beloved Sunny.  It's one of those days when I'll slow myself down to remember all that is special about it.  I want to see happy faces, listen to interesting conversations, provide enough simple home cooked food to fill their bellies,  delight them with a luscious hazelnut and chocolate truffle ice cream cake, hug everyone, and join our little family together so we never come unstuck.  It is an important part of my job as a mother to provide the tender hugs and hospitality, as well as a warm and comfortable space where we can all relax and start building this growing group into a strong united family.  It's not just Hanno and I getting to know Sarndra and Sunny, it's all of us defining new relationships and understanding how those relationships work within our family.  That doesn't always happen automatically. It often needs a friendly shepherd to gently move things along so that everyone is included and they all truly know they're a significant part of this family of US.

So there under the white fairy lights we'll sit around the table and I will silently celebrate this union of our new family.   While food is being enjoyed and conversations flow, I want to take it all in to remember later.  This year is important in that it is the first of many such family gatherings.  I know they won't all take place here at our home, and that over the years they'll be spread far and wide, but I hope this Christmas lunch and the enjoyment we take from it will set the scene for those to follow.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and come up to Monday relaxed and ready for the busy Christmas week.  Thank you for your kind and generous comments this week, they mean a lot to me and are really a great encouragement to keep writing.  Take care.


  1. Merry Christmas Rhonda, I hope you enjoy your Sunday Christmas with your Family! There will be six of us at our parents place on Christmas day this year as well. Although two of them are under two! :-)

  2. Thank you for this post Rhonda, it feels like it really applies to me. This year is our first Christmas at home for a while,and our oldest son is bringing his partner for the first time. She is a keeper I suspect and I am hoping she will become a permanant member of our family. It will be our first gathering without Jess (we didn't celebrate last year) so I am hoping to prepare lots of simple favourite food, set a nice table (in the kitchen too)or outside, and let things flow and see how it all works. We need different traditions I think to make new memories and associations with Christmas. Have a wonderful time with your growing family, I will be thinking of you. Julia in Mackay

  3. have a very happy christmas rhonda to you and all your family

  4. Miss Rhonda- your sons and their girls are so lucky to have such a wise and loving mother (&inlaw)- too many mothers feel the need to compete with the new additions when it is so much more important to make them feel drawn in to the family. you are a lovely woman

  5. Hi Vick, I hope you enjoy your Christmas.

    Thanks justme.

    Hi Julia, I'll be thinking of you too. I have only a slim understanding of your family after watching you on TV but I believe that Jess would embrace your new traditions and the memories you'll make with them. Have fun getting to know your newest girl. {{hugs}}

  6. thank you Mindy, merry Christmas.

  7. I'm sure you have a crystal ball Rhonda as this is exactly our Christmas this year and how I am feeling about it.It is the first time in a long while that all the family will be together. The first Christmas with Bex's partner of three years. A very different Christmas than most of us have experienced before. New traditions will be made, old ones continued. I hope everyone will add their own little bits.

    We won't be at our kitchen table in Cornwall but no matter as if our family is together it will be home.
    Have a very good day on Sunday and may there be many more.

    Pippa xx

  8. Enjoy your special day Rhonda. Hugs.

  9. I am really enjoying reading your posts... and a big message I am getting is to slow down and enjoy one thing at a time. I am a pretty hyper person (be it I am still over 50), but I have always thought I needed to multi-task, and I miss alot. I am early retiring from my job at the end of this year and looking forward to living a more simple life. Keep up with your writing!!

  10. Merry Christmas Rhonda, I can just visualise your happy family gathering, you have a wonderful way with words.

  11. Have a wonderful Christmas Rhonda. Enjoy being around all your family and friends.


  12. Sounds wonderful! Enjoy the time with your family. Those moments are to treasure.

  13. Merry Christmas to you and Hanno and may this be the first of very many good celebrations with your boys and their "girls".

    Thank you for all your lovely, inspiring posts and for today's lovely pictures of long ago times and pleasures.

  14. Merry Christmas Rhonda- what a lovely post today reminding us that Christmas isn't all about the presents and the perfect parties, but the love and care that we show. Hope your first Christmas with the two new members of your family is a blessed one.
    I find I'm always quick stopping by your blog every morning to see if you've written anything. I love reading all of your posts, and I hope you'll keep writing.
    The Girl in the Pink Dress

  15. This year my two children are bringing their special friends to th christmas dinner we are having on the sunday before. It is a special occasion to see them all grown up. May we enjoy many more.

  16. Happy happy christmas to you all! Have a wonderful time gathered together.
    Diana x

  17. What a heart warming post to put this often busy time into perspective! I have printed your post today and placed it on the notice board in our kitchen - it will serve to remind our family of the very very special opportunities that this time of year offers.

    Lots of love to you and your family for Christmas Rhonda!


  18. Oh Rhonda Jean, your plannings sound grand. As beauty is the eye of the beholder, I think "grand" is also. Our table is the in the kitchen and has gram's vintage linen table cloth covered with Gram's beautiful crocheted tablecloth over it. Our formal dining room is now the office (and soon to be my husband library). My parents are coming to be with us for our 2nd Christmas in TX. We will also have a neighbor couple who has become family to us and another close couple we know. It will be fun, great memories and conversations always happen so I am looking forward to it. Today I just went to the foot doctor and have had an injection and am now in a foot brace (hopefully no cast or surgery) so I will hobbling around, but I know everyone will help and in a few days I hope to have the swing of this brace thingy. The way I look at it is it will just adds to our memories. You have painted a wonderful picture for us of the plans for your day. I can visualize it and smile. Thank you, you are an artist!!! Emily in So. Texas

  19. Your words bring such peace and serenity. Our home is a sanctuary to us and is my favorite place to be. I love hearing how wonderful your gathering sounds like it will be. Thank you for encouraging me to slow down and relax.
    Peace & blessings,

  20. I hope that your holiday is as special as you are. Blessings

  21. Have a very merry Christmas, Rhonda! Blessings to you and yours! It will be just my kids and hubby, my mother and brother, and hubby's parents for Christmas. Quiet but full of fun!


  22. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  23. I can see that you are looking forward to having your family together this Sunday. It is such a wonderful thing to have new members come to the table and join in. How fun for all of you!

  24. Wishing you a very Happy Christmas Rhonda and Hanno. Thankyou both for a wonderful year of blogging and the amazing wisdom, knowledge and just plain common sense that you bring to all your friends in blogland. Not to mention the encouragement you give us all to get in there and have a go.

    Blessings Gail

  25. Merry Christmas to all. I have spent the past week getting ready to travel to spend Christmas with my son and his family. I will get to see my grandson who is 3 months. We will travel in our RV driving close to 1500 miles to get there. Can't wait to see everyone.

    Rhonda, I was just wondering what a traditional Christmas meal is like in Australia. Also, will you please take a picture of your fairy lights? I would love to see them.

    Since I will be away from a computer for a few weeks, I will be busy reading all of your entries when I return. Thanks and enjoy your Christmas with your family.

  26. Hello Rhonda:)
    It sounds like you are going to have a wonderful Christmas day, many blessings to you and your family:)

  27. Sounds like this will be such a special Christmas. I hope it will bring you ALL very speical, life-long memories.

    Blessings from Ohio, USA, Kim W

  28. I will think of you and your family on Sunday Rhonda as our small family will also be having our Christmas on Sunday. Our daughter and three year old grandson will arrive from Melbourne tomorrow for a few days before joining her husband in Sydney for Christmas with his family and our son, daughter in law and eleven year old grand daughter will be here from Brisbane.
    Have a happy day and thank you for another year of wonderful writing.
    Patricia on the Gold Coast.

  29. Ooh, Rhonda, you wrote just what I needed to hear today.

    I woke up feeling pretty overwhelmed at what there is left to do, presents to make, food to by and make, holiday things to organise, people to see... And we're into our second month with no central heating here, and I'm COLD.

    I was even annoyed that it's snowed and I can't get our van out (a whole half inch of snow! I'm sure some of you will be laughing at me, but we're not used to it here, and it's like an ice rink!)

    I read your blog over a hot chocolate, and it's reminded me to concentrate on what I CAN do, and to appreciate and make time for the people we're seeing.

    I'm not expressing this very well, but just wanted to say thanks :)


  30. Hi Rhonda. Just thought you'd like to know here in the South of England we have woken up to a blanket of snow! It's freezing!!- very Christmassy tho- I haven't taken my jacket off at home for about 4 days!! Although it's lovely staying in any doing knitting and crafy bits whilst watching the snow falling. Merry Christmas to you all- Jilly :)

  31. Thank you on behalf of all daughters-in-law who have struggled to fit in with the new family. It makes my heart feel glad that there are MIL's out there who do go the extra mile to welcome the new family additions with wide open arms and hearts, not to mention anticipation and excitement. I hope I can be as inclusive when my time comes in 20 years time!

  32. Merry Christmas Rhonda and Family!
    I wanted to say thank you for such an inspirational blog, I read every day and it has inspired me to change many things within my life. Thank you for taking time out of your life to write for us. Have a wonderful time with your family. x

  33. Rhonda,

    What a sweet post~ I wish I would have had a mother-in-law like you:) It does take time to build those relationships and you do have to make the effort. Good for you!!!:)

    We start our Christmas today...having a meal out with my husbands aunt...then having Christmas with my husbands mom and brother.

    Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!!


  34. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! May you and yours have a wonderful Christmas season. Simply sit and enjoy. Life sure does pass us by quickly!

  35. What a cozy wonderful post...you inspire me so! My little family is unlike yours in that we often celebrate in non traditional ways. My daughter in law goes to her family, my son stays home to care for their pets, my granddaughter is with me...but I still fill stockings for everyone, gathering small items through the year that suit each person. I bake cookies and bread. And this year I am taking holiday bags of a sandwich, fruit and cookies to the homeless who gather on the highway near our apartment. On Christmas day my son, granddaughter and I will go out to brunch and then see a movie.

  36. Such a warm and wonderful feeling this post creates. I have been so worried about my husband's family get together at our house this year. One family member with overwhelming health problems, another with hard feelings towards their parents. I realized none of that matters on Christmas Day. The blessing of being together as a family ON THAT DAY is what I need to focus on. Thank you Rhonda.

  37. Rhonda, Here I am in snowy Birmingham, UK reading your lovely words as I do everyday. You are a wise and wonderful woman and we your readers are really blessed by your words because they educate but don't preach and are shared with such warmth and truth and humour. I wish you and your family every good thing for Christmas and the New Year.

    with love

    carolyn x

  38. Hi Rhonda,
    I have been reading now for a while and am always so inspired by you. I have blogged about various things over the years, but recently have turned toward simple living. Rest assured your message is reaching the opposite side of the world! If you are so inclined, please check out my blog at http://batchworthlane.blogspot.com

    Also feel free to share it with others.

    All the best, and a merry merry christmas with your family!

    Portland, Oregon, USA

  39. merry christmas. i want to be a MIL like you - but as the boys are 8 and 10 I hope not for a few more years yet!

  40. Merry Christmas to you and yours! Just wait to the wee ones begin to arrive! New joys! V.

  41. I hope you're enjoying your family Christmas celebration today (your time)!


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