when I think of things done and things not done during the past 12 months. Today I made my Christmas pudding (well, it’s just gone on to boil). The cooking of the pudding invariably invokes thoughts of Grandma Lucy, Grandpa Flea’s mother. Grandma Lucy was very organised – and energetic. She had to be. Six children and a low-income -brought home without fail by Badgery Pa who was a farm hand. Part of his wages were a side of mutton – a half side twice a week to take account of the lack of electricity and refrigeration in those early days. Not that early, in fact. Grandpa Flea was in his second year of high school before electricity was connected to the little village where they lived. The only form of food cooling was the old Coolgardie safe. When I was a child we lived in towns and at least we had an icebox. I have no idea how Grandma Lucy managed to cope in such primitive conditions – not that she ever thought of them as such – she thought she was a very lucky person, despite suffering from malnutrition at one stage and having the last two of her children develop rickets when she was unable to breast feed them (no one thought to tell her that the formula she was given needed supplementation with vitamin drops ….).
However, back to the pudding. I always make a pudding recipe given to me by my friend, Maureen. It also comes with bittersweet memories as Maureen died eight years ago at sixty – too early and still deeply mourned – but this year I have mislaid it, along with Grandma Lucy’s Christmas cake recipe.
Fortunately my daughter came to the rescue with Grandma Lucy’s recipe for Christmas pudding! The things that mothers don’t know about their children. Of all the people who would have this recipe, this daughter is not one who’d spring to mind – as far as I know, she doesn’t like Christmas pudding. But she had a very close relationship with her grandmother, and Grandma Lucy must have offered it to her one year. So, for better or worse, it’s on cooking. Not that it’s a bad pudding, but my memories of it are always tainted by the fly spots on the pudding cloth from where it was hung to dry! No amount of boiling could allow me to enjoy that pudding until after Grandma Lucy moved into the town and it was stored in the frig.
Again I’ve wandered from the point of the story – as I said, it’s that time of year for me, when reflection accompanies most things. On one famous, or perhaps infamous, occasion I became the stuff of legends – still talked and laughed about by Grandpa Flea’s many brothers and sisters, and even nephews and nieces. Grandma Lucy was with us for Christmas that year – and to her horror, I cooked the cake and pudding on Christmas Eve. I don’t think she ever quite recovered from it. Certainly, every Christmas, almost until her last breath, she never failed to remind me of the occasion. Fortunately I loved her too much to take too much offence – and as time went by, it became one of those warm and loving memories that recur and are talked about each year at this time, keeping Lucy’s memory alive for all of us.
So, I’ll add Grandma Lucy’s Christmas Pudding to “Flea-bites” in the hope that her memory will last across the generations.