Christmas of 2015 was your first Christmas at home in Melbourne and I found myself looking forward to seeing you enjoy it, as I knew you would.
It turned out to be golden day for you, surrounded by presents, family, relatives ( or relephants as Ned called them) and about as much excitement as a little boy could handle.
You’re already getting the idea of parties, particularly birthday cake.
And you are already demonstrating a prodigious talent for the appreciation of presents.
This shot was taken by your uncle Adam when you were in Perth for Christmas 2014.
You have certainly lost none of that. This is you at Christmas 2015 at Mary Street.
It was great watching you unwrap your presents and the unalloyed delight that you showed. You were, of course, the centre of attention, surrounded by your mum and dad, Uncle Nick and Aunt Susie, and of course Nana Di and Grandpa Tim.
One thing that gets lost at Christmas as you get older is the idea of a present being a surprise. “What would you like for Christmas?” is a frequently asked question so you wind up getting presents that you expected. This year I opted for copies of Shakespeare’s plays and Anna Karenina.
I remember when I was about 10 and we were living in Remuera in Auckland that I used to give particular thought to Christmas presents. I also understood that they needed to be surprises. I had a limited budget saved up from my pocket money so my choices were naturally limited. I remember one year buying a corn scraper for my grandmother. I didn’t know if she had corns on her feet but I found one in the hardware shop and it was within budget, so I bought it.
I remember that she was delighted, not because she had corns, but because I had tried to think of a surprise.
You’re also getting the idea of giving presents. This is you giving a present to Pat who is Aunt Susie’s mum. You were so pleased with yourself, tottering across Pat’s living room, carrying her present to her.
The other people in the picture are Lisa, who was Pat’s daughter and Susie’s sister, Ned who is Lisa’s second son, Pat, your mum and Uncle Nick.
The highlight for you were Susie’s two nephews, Ned (4) and Sam (7) who were visiting from England. When we arrived at Pat’s place, they were chasing a couple of balloons around the house. You could not believe your eyes, so much fun in such a small space and, of course, you joined in immediately.
You were not as fast or as well coordinated as the two bigger boys but you didn’t let that deter you.
You’ve developed a very interesting set of techniques for playing with other kids, most of whom are bigger than you. When someone has a toy that you want, you will watch and wait until they put down or stop playing with it. Then you will rush in and grab it and head for the hills as fast as your little legs will carry you.
You have another technique, which you use if the kid isn’t too much bigger than you. You simply walk up to them, grab a toy and wait to see what the response is. You’re pretty strong for your size, so this usually works pretty well. Normally, Nana Di is on hand to smooth over any concerns of the kid may have that you’re going to disappear forever with their toy.
You are also a pretty appealing little character so most kids are very happy to share their toys with you.
But you struck gold with Ned. Ned is a little brother and often has to take second place to Sam. But when you arrived, suddenly he had a little brother he could play with and you had a big brother. You’re also very good at joining in and if the other kid can handle your boisterous affection, things go pretty well.
After Christmas lunch, everybody headed off to the beach.
Although you’ve been to the swimming pool pretty often, I think this was your first visit the beach. Is one of those iconic Melbourne beach afternoons which I remember so well when your dad and his brothers were growing up. The late afternoon sun is going down, it is still hot and the water is warm.
When I arrived you already in the water. You reached down and grabbed two handfuls of wet sand, waded over to me and held them up for me to take. You have a wonderful way of sharing the things you enjoy and I think you were as happy as I have ever seen you that day at the beach.
This is you and Ned digging a hole in the sand.
And this is you digging a hole with Uncle Nick
This your dad when he was about your age, at the beach at Frankston.
And this is you and your dad ready to go home at the end of the day.