What follows is a short story from Rosemary’s past. After talking with her, I have taken our discussion and turned it into a series of small stories highlighting the incredible life that she has led. Direct quotes from our discussion are highlighted in quotation marks. All else is a retelling written by yours truly.
Christmas in Australia isn’t like Christmas in the UK, Rosemary found out. In Australia, summer happens in December. Which means Christmas in Australia is hot, really hot.
And any celebration that was to take place outside had to take place in the sun, because there were few trees in Rosemary and Bill’s garden – not much besides grass grew in the sand. But it was Christmas, and it was to be celebrated as Christmases should.
In the morning, the family went to the Christmas service at their local church. Incidentally, this was their church because they went the first Sunday and were invited out to lunch next Sunday. So they went to church the next Sunday and were invited out to lunch again the next Sunday by a different couple. A month was spent in this manner before Rosemary and Bill so much enjoyed the church and the people that they wouldn’t dream of going anywhere else.
Anyway, they went to service on Sunday. Then they went home and had a Christmas dinner. Because you had to have a Christmas dinner. But the thought of eating a full Christmas dinner in the midday heat did at least postpone the celebrations until the late afternoon. That way at least it was a little cooler.
“Of course, you had to have Christmas dinner on Christmas day, don’t you? Wherever you live. You have to. So we did the works.”
In true Rosemary and Bill fashion, as many friends as possible were invited over, people from church, people who had also recently moved to Perth, and people they knew who probably didn’t have anywhere else to go. This was how you celebrate Christmas.
But remember, it was hot. And Bill thought nothing of walking around wearing only shorts.
‘Bill,’ said Rosemary (the exact words of what Rosemary said have been lost in time but this is the gist of it). ‘You really ought to put a shirt on while we eat dinner.’
It was, after all, a formal occasion.
So Bill disappeared – probably rather reluctantly – into the house. Well she hadn’t said anything about his shorts so he’d keep those. The thought of a shirt was a little much. But he should really dress up.
So Bill returned wearing a tie.
No shirt, just a tie.
And that’s what he wore during their first Christmas in Perth. It made for a great photo, much to the chagrin of Rosemary.
The tie, I’m imagining, had to be tossed over the shoulder while he carved the turkey.
Stay tuned for more stories from the life of Rosemary. Please note: these stories will not necessarily hold any chronological grounding. They are designed as snippets of understanding into the life of Rosemary and while some will hold chronology, others may not.