There was much to smile about.
A pre-Christmas family wedding gave me the opportunity to have a happy snap taken with my lovely mother and sister
For the third year in a row I enjoyed the privilege of an Access All Areas pass to photograph Sydney's Carols in the Domain for my friend Robyn's (Event Founder's) personal collection. This was my stage side view of The Wiggles, Captain Feathersword and Henry the Octopus!
This beautiful girl arrived home after three years working in the USA and Botswana.
For the first time since 2010 all of my precious children, my daughters-in-law and my grandchildren were here for Christmas.
My sister and I had a little bit of fun on Christmas Day too. In the past we've been known to turn up in the same outfit, quite unplanned, as we have very similar tastes in our clothes and shop the same favourite online shop.
When we recently discovered we both owned the same top, but in different colours, we decided to wear them on Christmas Day, with identical white pants. To complete the picture we both pinned the sequined felt Christmas trees I had made for us, in different colour ways, a few years ago.
Not at all fun was the mercy dash I had to make to the vet with Chester after he ate a 485gram box of Lindt chocolate balls, wrappers and all, six days before Christmas. Chocolate is toxic to dogs, and can kill them.
Fortunately Chester is large, and had eaten an assortment of milk, dark and white chocolates so he hadn't ingested too much theobromine, the chemical found in highest concentrations in dark chocolate and cooking chocolate.
An hour after an injection to make him very sick indeed he skipped out of the surgery with an empty stomach, completely recovered, though my bank account might take a little longer. I'm still learning not to leave food where my sensitive-nosed pooch can reach it, even if it is wrapped and sealed.
Here's my naughty boy, as we were about to leave for the vet. He must have had a very sore tummy!
Sydney's Martin Place is usually the centre of our city's enchanting Christmas decorations, a giant tree covered in winking fairy lights and swathed in electronic banners. Families make the trip into town and children gaze, open-mouthed, at the magical scene.
This year Martin Place became famous for another, very ugly, reason. Just ten days before Christmas an extremist gunman took seventeen customers and staff hostage in the Lindt Cafe as morning coffees were being dispensed. The very ordinariness of these circumstances rocked us, and for sixteen hours our city held it's breath as surrounding offices were evacuated and riot police stood by.
The waiting game ended suddenly, around 2am the next morning, when the gunman shot and killed the manager of the cafe, Tori Johnson, and after a loud exchange of gunfire between the riot police and the gunman he and another hostage, solicitor Katrina Dawson, were shot dead and the rest fled, terrified, to safety.
The next morning the flower tributes started, just a few at first, propped up against nearby office buildings. But soon the outpouring of public grief gathered momentum and it was not long before a huge area of the top end of Martin Place was covered in a fragrant carpet of flowers, candles, soft toys, cards and messages, particularly to the two families who had lost loved ones.
Everyone wanted to surround these families, and those of the surviving hostages, with love.
Quilter Joshua Helms (under his pseudonym Molli Sparkles) wasted no time mobilizing the worldwide quilting community to make 5inch hashtag blocks, and the response has been nothing short of amazing, with more than a thousand blocks having arrived by New Year, and many more since.
Batting, backings and longarm quilting services have been donated, and the plan is to make as many quilts as possible from these little 5 inch rainbow coloured blocks, initially for Tori Johnson's parents and partner, and for Katrina Dawson's husband and three young children.
Hashtag blocks have arrived from Germany, the USA, Alaska, the UK and all over Australia, and I'm proud to be able to play a small part in Molli's heartwarming initiative by making up these hashtag blocks.
Di B has been particularly industrious and made twenty!
All the details, including the time frame for this venture, are here.
As you've seen from my previous post, when compassionate quilters work together we can do great things!