My dear May,
The four boys with Kathleen and Ethel have just started for the “dramatic” at Evesham and I will take the opportunity of a quiet evening to write my letters to you and give you some account of our doings this Xmas, we have such dry weather of late that the roads are in excellent condition and they will have a nice dry walk, Mother is going to take Juliet to the afternoon performance to-morrow and Mrs Ashwin will take them to and fro in Mrs Hope’s carriage, this is Auntie Lottie’s treat so far as the children are concerned, I saw the piece some years ago so did not trouble about going myself. Now as to Christmas day – well as regards weather it was an ideal day, mild, sunny and quite dry underfoot, the younger members of the family went to the second celebration at 7.30 Mother and I to the later one as usual, at breakfast time, with other letters, we got yours from Sydney with a further portion of your diary it was very nice hearing from you on that special day, we also heard from Marian at the same time as you will remember she was with us last year she wrote cheerfully and said she was going to Natal during the holidays and hoped to get a glimpse of Tom on her way through Bloemfontein.
Juliet who is sleeping with Kathleen these holidays, was as usual the recipient of a well filled stocking and of course she found a few things in the dollies’ stocking which was hung up in our room where she had left a bed full of dolls!
We all went to Church at 11A.M. there was a pretty good congregation, at the three services there 113 communicants, and the collections were just over £3. The money was for the sick & needy for there are many who want a little help this winter. I think it was at Church and also at dinner that we missed you most and we often say there seems a shortage of girls! however you seem to be having such a good time and to write us such happy letters that we are the better contented to spare you for awhile.
We are quite looking forward to our first batch of letters from Petone which should arrive by the “Frisco” mail in about ten days.
We had our usual sized turkey for dinner which Alice cooked very nicely she had the deaf woman to help wash up and great was the amusement in the kitchen when the latter got the nutmeg out of the pudding! Cyril got the three-penny bit next day. The basket was quite as well furnished with presents as usual, of course, Juliet got the lion’s share I think she had fourteen in all, Auntie Fanny sent her such a nice little hanging set of book shelves, then there was a doll from Mrs Wood, twin ditto from Mrs Orchard and the same from Miss Pollard, the former girls, to be called Minna and Brenda and the latter, boy and girl, Antony and Cleopatra, she had two books also and Brailsford and Alice each gave her some little toy altogether she was very lucky and I am sure very happy little girl. I gave Mother a white shawl to wear about the house in cold weather and the children gave her such a pretty inlaid Japanese tray which they got at Blakeley’s old shop, the present man has such nice things on show, well made and very tasteful and most moderate in price considering the quality. Mother gave me a pair of warm gloves and I am to have a walking stick from the others, to choose it myself. Kathleen had a lovely bag purse from Aunt Fanny and other things, Ethel had 8 or 9 presents among others music from Mrs Ashwin, brooch from Miss Cave, bag from Norah, book from Kath, belt from us, miniature grandfather clock case for her “bee” clock from the others &c &c. Arthur had his usual book from Mr Savory and the other boys had various things to their liking, there was also the liberal present of £5 from Aunt George which was divided a little according to present needs into seven portions, I really cannot enumerate all the many gifts and have probably missed out several nice ones.
Tell Auntie Lottie the theatre tickets were much appreciated and also the various articles which were purchased out of the surplus.
We drank to you dear, and to all other relations at Petone, then we toasted those nearer and did not forget I hope any of our nearer kin and friends, the evening we spent in music and cards and altogether had a very happy gathering in which we had to imagine you as present in spirit.
To-morrow evening we have a progressive whist party at which we shall give a light stand up supper, besides ourselves we expect 8 from Wickhamford Manor, 3 Orchards, 3 from the Vicarage, Mr Alcock & Leonard Haynes. Next week we are having a similar entertainment for other of our friends, it was impossible to manage all at once comfortably and these little functions can be done at a moderate cost and are often very pleasant.
The boys and I have been doing some gardening lately, thinning out the shrubs and preparing to make the lawn available for lawn tennis in a year or two by slightly increasing the area. I have also finished all the rose planting and removals.
Cyril’s report is again very satisfactory he is top of the first set in maths and there are only two boys in the school doing scholarship work who are ahead of him in this subject the remarks are “His work has been careful, thorough and intelligent throughout the term.”
We hear from Auntie Fanny that Fred is starting on 30th inst for a voyage to the Cape for the sake of his health, he has found two companions to go with him.
Jack is staying with us till the evening of 29th he seems pretty well and cheerful. George will return to Richmond on Jan 1st to have a final review of his work prior to the exam which begins on his birthday, I think, he considers he has quite a fair chance of success and I do hope his luck (not always of the best) may come at last. Kathleen and Cyril are both due back Jan 18 Arthur on the following day. After his exam is over George will come home for a little holiday and await the result which should be out early in March.
On Jan 8 Kath and Ethel are going to stay a few days with Miss Pollard I expect they will have some fun.
To-day Mrs Idiens drove Mother and Ethel up to Evesham to meet Mrs Long and other ladies willing to assist in the coming election in canvassing delivering leaflets &c, they seem to have had an enthusiastic gathering and will I hope be able to give material assistance I expect we shall have a sharp fight but I am very hopeful of success.
With much love from us all to you and also to Uncle, the two Aunties and the cousins
your affectionate Father