Remember, every moment is precious

I ALWAYS feel a little nostalgic each Boxing Day for Christmases past.

Christmas "present" began in 1980 when I was embraced by my now husband's extended family.

That's meant each December 25 has been spent with a tribe of people - from 14 to 35 - gathered around the festive table, playing cricket in a park, and in a big circle for long gift-opening rituals.

But the relative quiet of Boxing Day always brings up a longing for a time when it was just me, Dad and Mum, Poppa Bonney and Nana and Pop Olsen around the kitchen table with the hot family chicken, roast potatoes, pumpkin and green peas - with the Christmas pudding to finish.

The whole afternoon was spent just "chewing the fat" around that table. I was in awe of them. These adults had lived through world wars and a Great Depression, raised big families and suffered the pain of losing loved ones ... and they knew loneliness.

I had so much to learn from them, but didn't know it. I had so little time with them all - 10 years or less, but didn't know it. Had I known it, I would have started compiling a family tree, written a book on my late Grandfather's Gallipoli campaign from my remarried Nana's stories, soaked up all my father's wisdom and business nous, and jotted down every recipe my mother ever lovingly prepared. I would have hugged them tighter, told them I loved them often and not been a little so-and-so quite so much.

These holidays, soak up every precious moment with your loved ones.

And if you have five minutes to spare, call on a relative, a loved one, a neighbour or colleague you suspect might be lonely at this time of year. It could be good for both of you.