Christmas Lights and Bells at St Mary’s Cathedral

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The light show at St Mary’s Cathedral over the Christmas period was a delight for all to see…….particularly the weary shopper struggling with armfuls of shopping bags ……back to their vehicles parked in St Mary’s carpark.

It is always such a wonderful surprise……..and I never remember that it is on.

In fact I feel a little closer to St Mary’s since I heard a gorgeous interview onABC radio at the end of last year with one of the bell ringers in regard to the 25 year anniversary of the current peal of 12 bells.

This is the third peal of bells….the first to ring in 1844. I was fascinated to hear that the bells ring in a series of mathematical permutations or orders….decided by the ringing master each Sunday.  Each person is assigned to a bell…..the task both physically and mentally challenging.

The bell ringers climb 126 stairs each Sunday and for a practice session mid week.The bells, all on the same level are in fact 2 floors above them which is a bonus given the noise level of the beautiful chiming bells.  Shutters are open wide in the tower for all to hear.

One of the loveliest things to do amongst the madness of the  Christmas rush is to wander into St Mary’s Cathedral to experience the peacefulness…… and the fragrance….. fresh Christmas trees line the aisle…. mingled with incense….and light a candle.

Southern Highlands Christmas Tree Hunting

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Today is the day I am taking down our Christmas tree…….and it is with mixed emotions.  The end of another Christmas and all that goes with it……the anticipation and preparation both good and not so good!!!  The start of a new year …..always exciting but can be a little daunting as well.
I reflect as I take down and wrap each decoration…..the beautiful ones that have been passed down from generation to generation and the ones that bring back memories of where or when they were purchased….each with a story to tell.
Each year we try to have a theme or at least a colour scheme….that is until we can’t possibly not use the favourites that don’t quite fit in with the scheme.
The Christmas tree ritual starts with identifying the date that we are acquiring the
 tree.  This doesn’t vary greatly and is usually mid December.  This is based on trying to maximise the amount of time we have prior to Christmas to enjoy the tree.  Holidays to the beach happen soon after Christmas.
The only variation to this being when we spend Christmas in London……yes we must still have a tree but it is put up earlier in December.
We set off from Bowral to the couple of tree farms on the way to Kangaloon…..never really knowing which one will have the best trees.  Some have years where they don’t open in order for the stock to grow or where they have been depleted from previous years.
Each year there is disagreement after disagreement over which is the perfect tree with each family member adamant that their tree is the best.  After cutting the ‘best’ tree with the saw provided the tree is netted for the journey home on top of the car……not an unusual site in the Southern Highlands at this time of year!!!!
The decision over which lower branches must removed followed by the orientation of the tree are always tricky …….by which time a cup of tea is always in order.
We have the ritual of cutting our Christmas cake to enjoy with our tea and the decorating of the tree (once bags of decorations from the previous year have been located….also tricky!!!)
And the joy of rediscovering those beautiful decorations starts all over  again.
PS The date to take down the Christmas tree is generally believed to be somewhere between the 2nd and 6th of January.
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