Christmas Day 1905
My dear Father
I thought it would be nice to write to you on Christmas Day, then you will be quite sure that I was thinking of you all (though of course you would know it without that proof!).
It is nearly 6 p.m. now, so as they say we are 11½ hours in advance of you, I can imagine little Judy about waking up to look at her stocking. We have had a nice day, fine and warm. I told you in the diary what presents I had, it was very kind of them all. I made Aunt Bessie a table centre which they had on the table at dinner, and for Aunt Lottie I made a green satin glove case quilted with paler green silk and embroidered with her initials, Dolly made a handkerchief sachet to match. Maidie worked her a tray cloth and a cushion cover, I think she was pleased with them all. I gave the girls a little present each. We were 10 at dinner, the same number as our full party at home. George, Frank, and Bob were the only boys, Hubert and Arthur both went away, the former to Masterton for about a week. Arthur thinks of taking his yearly holiday soon and going up to see Bernard. You will be interested to hear that the Badsey sweet peas that I brought out are coming up nicely, they are about 4 inches high - Blanche Burpee is the only one that has come up rather sparsely and there are 13 of those up. Some are planted along a wire trellis work at one end of the tennis lawn, the rest are in rows across a flower bed.
You will see by my diaries what nice drives we have been having – Aunt Lottie enjoys them very much and as do I. Aunt Bessie finds them too tiring, she came once but felt knocked up afterwards, she cannot stand the shaking of a two wheeled vehicle nor the fast trotting of Grisel. Uncle says she never cared for driving even in her young days. I have got quite fond of Aunt Bessie, she is so sweet and motherly and “understanding,” if you know what I mean. Uncle Dilnot was so pleased with the armchair Aunt Lottie gave him, it really is a beauty covered in dark red buffalo to match the other dining room chairs, and Uncle says it could not suit him better. Uncle enjoys taking us drives, he finds it tires him to ride far and of course he can’t get much walking exercise but drives are just what he likes. Grisel is getting into good condition and was none the worse after her 35 miles yesterday. Tomorrow we talk of going a long day’s expedition if fine.
George goes off again tomorrow evening, I think him a little like Uncle Frank in face, but he is shorter and stouter, Aunt Lottie doesn’t see it, but I find we never do see likenesses alike. George talks in a funny meek, rather squeaky little voice, but one has to pump to get much out of him. Aunt Lottie is looking very well and I think is thoroughly enjoying herself. She and Uncle have great games of cribbage almost every night and she is very jubilant when she manages to win. She talks of starting with Maidie and me on our Southern trip about January 15, I expect we shall have a very good time and it will be so nice having Maidie. I wrote to Mrs Byrch some time ago saying we expected to be passing Christchurch and hoping to see something of them, but I have had no answer. If none comes soon I must write and ask if she got the letter. Aunt Lottie talks of having a fortnight or 3 weeks at Lakes Manapouri, Te Anau, and Wakatipu making Queenstown I think our head-quarters for a bit. She will see how the money last, if that doesn’t melt too quickly. I believe she will do another trip from Christchurch to the Otira and Buller Gorges and back by Nelson. She has talked vaguely to me about taking Dolly with us there. She could come and join us at Christchurch while Maidie went home – however that is only a castle in the air at present and I don’t think anything has been said to anyone and of course I haven’t mentioned it, so please don’t write to Auntie as if you knew unless she has told you the little plan in her letter.
I had a nice letter from Miss Laird on Saturday, she is looking forward to our meeting in Auckland, she had a good crossing from Sydney but was ill all the same, she was very glad to find her Mother much better. Miss Cotton sent me a nice coloured p.c. of “Orontes” as a Xmas card. I got one or two pretty coloured English pcs in Petone and was so pleased to come across some of Cleeve Mill. I will send one to Ethel.
Now I must run through your letters and answer anything that needs answering. I am very glad to get newspapers, English news in the Wellington papers is so very scrappy, any interesting cuttings out of the Times I should like very much. The election will be over I suppose when you get this. I saw the list of members in the new Cabinet. I expect you enjoy getting the Times and books from the library. I was sorry to hear of Mr Allen Haynes’ accident and hope he has quite recovered. I got your last letter, one Guardian, three days before the missed ones. Mother’s letter written the week before yours arrived at the same time – she forgot to put “New Zealand” on the address, so it went to two Wellingtons in England first. The news about dear old Boo is very satisfactory. Thank you very much for sending Arthur’s letters in that India post. I thought he wrote so nicely and I was very glad that his interest in his long chosen profession proved too strong even for that tempting offer to upset. Anna’s engagement is quite a piece of news. I am very pleased to hear of it, though I can’t help feeling I wish it was Mary, perhaps her turn will come next. Auntie Polly will have to look out for a companion to stay with her when Mary goes away. I am sorry Ethelwyn’s engagement is off. I am looking forward to getting an Italy mail in a few days. Your Calendar arrived by the last Frisco mail, thank you so much for it and Mother too. Please give Ethel my love and thanks for her pretty card. Juliet shall have a little letter this time. Mr and Mrs Russell came back last week and have both been in. Mr R. is a tall and rather fine looking man, but his gushing manner is terrible and in the Church he is most trying. I am so glad that you don’t have to put up with his style of conducting service. Aunt Bessie and Dolly had to go to a “Social” (terrible word!) on Friday evening given to welcome him back. Aunt Bessie seems to have behaved quite disgracefully at it and came home in quite a naughty mood! Mrs Russell seems to have been much impressed with England and remarked what a lot English girls give up when they come out here to be married. She is Australian and it was her first visit home. I forgot to tell you we drank to the health of all absent friends at dinner today.
Wed Dec 27th Many thanks for your letter of Nov 15, it was so nice to get Brindisi mail in this morning after no English letters for a fortnight, now we ought to get two more mails written a week. Thank you so much for all your good wishes. I had a long letter from Mary Robinson today and one from Kathleen which leads me to imagine she had a very dull time of it last term. I do hope she will have a good time these holidays, if she goes up to Miss Pollard’s it will be nice for her. Many thanks to Ethel for her letter received this morning. I still have to write to Kathleen before the mail closes this evening, so with very much love to you and Mother and hoping the New Year will be a bright and prosperous one to you.
Your loving daughter
May E Sladden
I heard from Mrs Byrch yesterday, she hopes Auntie and I will spend a few days with them. I expect that will be on our return to Christchurch from the lakes.