I was fortunate to be born into a loving family, the second child of two wonderful parents. The topic bought home to me that I have taken so much for granted in my life, a life in which I have been surrounded by love – what more could one ask for?
My early memories as a child were living in Thornbury and then starting school in Oakleigh. My most vivid memories are then moving to Trentham in central Victoria and the excitement when my parents purchased their first car, one of the many material objects I learnt that one usually had to wait for.
At about the age of 8 I was desperate to have a two-wheel bicycle. The girl next door had one and she would allow me to ride it, sometimes around the block on the unmade road. We gradually learnt to dink each other or to take it in turns, one to ride the bike, the other to run along beside. Occasionally, as happens with girls about that age, we would have a brief falling out and my access to the bike would cease temporarily. How I longed for my own bike!
The following Christmas I so hoped for a bike and can remember my disappointment when Santa did not leave me a bike. As one of five, I suspect at the time finances were a little tight. Nevertheless, I recall very happy Christmases – whatever presents we received, we valued.
Another birthday came and went, again no bike.
The following Christmas I recall racing with the rest of the family to the dining room where traditionally Santa left the presents. And there it was, a size 26 inch bike, with a bell! Light blue and white with a dash of red was the distinctive color; though not as bright as my friend’s next door, it was a magnificent sight.
Some years later I realised it must have been second hand, which meant nothing to me. It was my bike! I rode it whenever I could - along bush tracks with my friend, on footpaths, up hills, down lanes, along the sparse bitumen road, down to the shops, off to school – it was the best possession I ever had.
Maybe learning at an early age that I could not always have everything I wanted and that it didn’t have to the the best of its kind prepared me for life.
I recall with our own children, when everyone seemed to have a coloured television, still having the old black and white. I wanted them to appreciate not having to have what everyone else seemed to have.
Perhaps not putting too much emphasis on material wealth has stayed with me. Perhaps my not getting overly excited at the prospect of an exciting event or occasion such as Christmas or birthdays harks back to not wanting to be disappointed. Perhaps this is why I relish and enjoy an event more after it has occurred and its memories linger on.