Monday, December 18, 2006

The Closer It Gets....

My memory bank is in over-drive at this time of the year. Reflecting back to times past. To friends and family no longer here. Lovers, at one time or the other the centre of attention and emotions, no more part of my reality or mine of theirs. Alone in my memories of them, I doubt they spend a moment or two thinking of me. Maybe one or two do. Christmas sets the wheels of the mind in motion.

Christmas Day on Hinchinbrook Island quickly approached. The resort was booked to its limits. My staff, some of whom were experiencing their first Christmas away from their families and loved ones, were of mixed emotions. Excited with the prospect of spending Christmas on an island and yet, a little sorrowful at not being around the Christmas tree exchanging presents with their families. Sensing their feelings, I warned the guests ahead of the day that once Christmas lunch was over in the restaurant it was then to be my staff's 'time' as they, too, must be able to enjoy Christmas. Everyone was very understanding. We set a long table out on the large deck surrounding the pool in eager anticipation for the afternoon.

Christmas Eve was full of good cheer and much gaiety as the staff and guests mingled around the bar before and after dinner. My head chef, David, who was a character much loved by staff and guests alike was in full form, regaling stories to everyone within earshot. At around 2.30am Christmas morning, he jumped up, letting go of an apt expletive or three, stating he had forgotten to put the whole suckling pig on to cook! Christmas lunch was to be an elaborate buffet complete with the traditional fare and an abundance of fresh seafood.

As the revellers meandered their merry ways back to their cabins, David and I were left to keep watch on the forgotten pig! From memory, I managed to slip in about an hour's nap before rising, showering, dressing and racing back to the restaurant. I had told my two chefs I would prepare all the salads, freeing them up to attend to all other preparations. With the adrenalin flowing at high speed, I gave no thought to my lack of sleep and the previous night's indulgences.

Lunch was a major success, with the guests arriving promptly at 11.30am to begin the celebratory feast. Sated and drowsy, like satisfied goannas, they drifted off to wherever they could find a welcoming bed, palm tree or shady she-oak to digest their gigantic meal around 2.30pm.

The fun commenced for us after the last guests left. With no opportunity to visit stores on the mainland, I'd decided the best Christmas presents I could give my staff was a bottle of their favourite alcoholic beverage. I gift-wrapped a couple of cartons full of Scotch, rum, bourbon, gin, vodka and whatever else took their fancies. I'd commandeered the skipper of the contracted island boat to purchase Christmas stockings, enough for each member of my staff. We gathered around the decorated table out on the deck, popping champagne corks and settled in for a fun afternoon. My staff presented me with a beautiful set of crystal Scotch glasses and a bottle of Johnny Walker Black with which to christen them. Poppers and slime, funny eye glasses, plastic rings and all such goodies from the stockings soon made a fine mess of our surroundings. The pool was too inviting and we couldn't refuse its offer. We all ended up in the pool, talking and laughing amongst ourselves. It was a wonderful Christmas for us wonderful, in fact, dusk had long fallen. We had forgotten all about our guests!

Fortunately, having eaten so much at lunchtime, they arrived late, some not at all, for dinner. Dinner, being a re-arrangement of the luncheon fare. Everyone had had their fill and much more at lunch, so had little appetite at dinner. Soon sleepily, though happy, they wandered back to their accommodations, leaving us to clean up as we reminisced over a wonderful day spent together as a 'family'.


  1. Hi Lee, another good tale of a Christmas past, and you can say what you like about spending your Christmas alone....
    it's a time for family and friends, please consider we folk in cyber-space your friends, and, as we have extraordinary powers... we will be with you this Christmas.

  2. Thanks, Peter for your kind words. But, I will be just fine over Christmas. I have it all planned out and am looking forward to it. :) Friends have their families and I don't like intruding on anyone at such times.

    Again, I am heartened by your kindness...that was a very nice sentiment...thank you. :)

  3. Wow! You can write lady - I expect you didn't see me there, but I shared the whole experience with you .... right through retiring. THAT was GREAT, thanx, Lee!!! ;0)

  4. Aha...I thought I recognised you, snuck into the pool after the sun went down! ;) Glad you enjoyed the party!

    Thanks for your comments. :)

  5. Lee thanks for the visit.

    Have you tried Johnny Walker Blue or Gold? Both great single malt scotches.

    Both are quite excellent.

    Have a wonderful Christmas.

    May your new year be prosperous.

  6. Hi Jack...I've tried the blue but not the gold! I should have a word in Santa's ear...if I knew where he was, that is! ;)

    Nice to see you, too...and thanks for your good wishes. May we all have a great Christmas. :)

  7. Dang, Lee. That story almost makes me like Christmas and I'm the original Scrouge.

  8. Have a wonderful Christmas Lee, I look forward to reading more of your blog in the new year.

  9. You would have enjoyed the day, Corn was a lot of fun...island life is wonderful...well, it was on that one. I lived on another a few years later, as well...Christmas spent on that one was a fraction more hectic...a cyclone was off the coast nearby!

    Thanks Mia...all the best for Christmas and New Year to you, too....and to you Corn Dog...I hope you enjoy yours.

  10. Could you mail me my swimsuit? I left it on the bottom of the pool. Well I didn't, someone else did.

    GREAT writing!!

  11. Oh! Dear! Sorry, Cliff...I can't...they got caught up in the filter and were torn to shreds...don't you remember? You had to grab a palm frond to enable you to get home unembarrassed! ;)

  12. Grrrrr...where's my sledgehammer! I can't post!!!!!!!!!! Damn Blogger!!

  13. That sounds like it was a wonderful Christmas, Lee, and if I were over there, I'd sure like to work for you! I know what you mean about not liking to intrude. I don't know how it is there but in the UK Xmas is almost exclusively a family affair. I didn't mind ... I worked some Xmases and the others I was quite happy with my dog and my memories.. and preparing a feast for friends the next day! Here in Italy the festival includes everybody and you see lots of people out and about on Xmas Day. [UK towns are like ghost towns that day.] I hope we'll be in touch Xmas Day, Lee, as, like Peter, I feel I'm your friend now.

  14. Isn't Christmas a funny beast? It has you reminiscing of old and fun times amongst the best of family and friends. It makes you laugh at some of the more ridiculous situations you might have experienced, and savor those moment when you overcame great pain or discomfort at personal losses or trials.

    Enjoy your Chrissie Lee... and I'll have a nice whisky (or three) for you myself mate.

    Cheers ;-)

  15. Thanks, Welshcakes...that's nice of you to say. I'll be around on Christmas somewhere, no doubt. Me and my two furry mates, Remy & and sister four years old.

    I think, now, I'm having a couple of folks over in the morning for my Christmas bellinis...but then the rest of the day will be mine to way. I'll raise a glass or three of good cheer your way over and up there in Sicily! :)

    Merry Christmas to you. :)

  16. Sounds good to me, Belongum! I've got some Chivas Regal here and shall do likewise to you! :) Never fear, I know it will be more than one! ;)

  17. Gidday Lee, again and again,
    Can you guess that I'm trying to catch up with posts that I haven't looked at for a while.
    I think I've mentioned this before in previous comments, but your post on Hinchinbrook Island and other similiar stories are excellent. Great reading. It's like going to a bookstore and getting a good book but not having to pay for it.

  18. Thanks, Wazza...I thought you'd gone missing in action! ;)