Christmas past and present


Christmas tree at Nan and Mikes

When we were kids, we would usually head to my grandmother’s place where we would celebrate around a fantastic fir tree in the backyard.

Otherwise we would have a formal sit down lunch, prepared by mum and with help from dad, my brother and I, at home in Glenorchy or Lindisfarne, sharing presents and preparing for Boxing Day. Boxing Day was the time for picnics with other members of the family. We would often head to the beach for swimming, beach cricket and general chit chat about family members who couldn’t turn up.

Many times we would go to the carols in St David’s Park in Hobart. Otherwise we would listen and watch the Carols by Candlelight at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne on TV.

As we grew older, Christmas lunch  would be at mum and dad’s but by this time it would be more smorgasbord style. It would still include ham, turkey, chicken, new potatoes, salads and of course, Christmas pudding and pavlova for dessert.

Mum would have spent the previous month cooking her own Christmas puddings, enough for eating at Christmas but also smaller ones to give away as presents or to use throughout the rest of the year. She would boil them on the stove but when they moved to Howrah she would cook them more on an open fire barbecue area outside.

Once my brother was married and had small children, lunch would be at their place. Everyone would bring something to eat but it would still be a smorgasbord style meal. As it was now two families at the Christmas meal, there was a larger variety of foods and salads that we hadn’t eaten before. Philip would also use the barbecue for sausages, fish and hamburgers. But more people to help with the clean up afterwards. The children would receive and open presents before we had lunch.

When I first moved to my new house in Seven Mile Beach, we celebrated my 40th birthday at my place. I didn’t have enough plates, cutlery or tables and chairs for serving a large group of people. Also no dishwasher and only a very small kitchen area for cleanup. So Christmas was never held at my house.

This year brunch rather than lunch is again at my brother’s where there will be about 15 people but due to Covid and safe distancing, I decided to visit early, give out the soaps I normally give as presents and leave the raspberries which is my usual donation of food.

This year, Dad decided to have Christmas at his home. He has ordered lots of Christmas meals from his mobile meals group. He sent me a message saying he will be relaxing at home and reminiscing about happy Christmas memories. I think he finds it difficult now with his hearing where even a small group with everyone talking can be too loud and confusing.

As a single person I enjoy my own company, more so since I retired in 2011. Even though we celebrate on that one day of the year, I love getting home and doing my own thing.

Readers: What has changed about your Christmas get togethers over the past decade or so?

Dad’s DNA test vs Ruby his cousin

Today I decided to check out the new chromosome browser in Ancestry. Looking at dad’s results these are his ethnicity on each chromosome:

Parent 1 

  • Irish – 1, 4, 5, 6, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21
  • Scottish – 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 22
  • English/NW Europe – 1, 13

Parent 2

  • Welsh – 7, 13
  • Scottish – 2, 3, 6, 16
  • Swedish – 9, 17, 21
  • English/NW Europe – 1, 4, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 22

But which parent is dad’s mother?

When we first began this journey with dad’s DNA, it was to find out if he had Samoan heritage. Most of his cousins were very dark as were one of their parents with the surname Smith. Yet dad’s mother, Irene, had an extremely pale complexion.

Dad’s mother Irene with her pale complexion

Mike and Maddie
Ruby’s mother Maddie with her darker complexion

Maybe looking at Ruby’s DNA ethnicity and chromosome browser, I can work out which side is dad’s mother and which is his father.

Parent 1 has the Samoan DNA so this is definitely from Ruby’s mother. The Samoan DNA comes from her father Robert Smith who was one quarter Samoan. Some of the other DNA will be from his wife Nellie Smith nee Somers/Summers/Clark/O’Keefe/Charles who is the common ancestor to both dad and Ruby. Nellie is a problem ancestor as we are unsure of her parents.

What other ethnicities are from Ruby’s mother that match or are similar to dad’s mother?

  • English/NW Europe – 2, 11, 13, 15
  • Irish – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 12, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22
  • Scottish – 7
  • Welsh – none
  • Swedish – 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 19, 21

Ruby’s other ethnicities from parent 1 include: Southern Bantu, Tonga, Nigeria, East Polynesia/New Zealand Maori, Benin/Togo and Southern Philippines.


As dad’s parent 2 has no Irish at all, yet Ruby’s mum has Irish on 12 different chromosomes, this would suggest that dad’s parent 1 is his mother. Any chromosome ethnicity common to both dad’s mother and Ruby’s mother must come from their mother  who is their common parent.

  • Irish – 1, 4, 5, 6, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 – Dad
  • Irish – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 12, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22 – Ruby
  • Scottish – 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 22 – Dad
  • Scottish – 7 – Ruby
  • English/NW Europe – 1, 13 – Dad
  • English/NW Europe – 2, 11, 13, 15 – Ruby

I think this fits well as dad’s mother’s father has mainly Scottish and Irish ethnicity. So that would be the remainder of the chromosomes not fitting with Ruby’s mother.

My next step to continue using the DNAPainter program to paint dad’s chromosomes using results from other databases.