#11 The Breakfast Club

I’m not exactly sure, but I believe the Breakfast Club started when all the Leemen children were away one Christmas. And somehow, the idea stuck. I can barely remember a Christmas morning when when we didn’t thrust aside our freshly unwrapped gifts, rip the labels of our new clothes and walk the short distance to Jill and Dick’s house for our annual neighbourhood breakfast. Essentially, the party is made up of three family groups (whichever fraction is present that year), but over the years we’ve had plenty of guest appearances by people who happen to be with us for Christmas. Exchange students, friends and long lost family members, we all become friends instantly when the bonbons are popped and the paper hats go on. To date, we’ve had visitors from Japan, Finland, England and Switzerland. Only now do I realise how those guests must have felt around the brightly decorated table, far from home. And that’s the thing I love about this tradition of ours; it’s a way of defying this strange, narrow idea of family we seem to have in Australia. Many of these friends I wouldn’t see from one Christmas morning to the next, and yet it wouldn’t be a proper Christmas without them. Others I have only met once, but it’s always a lovely feeling to meet a complete stranger on Christmas morning, during the most sacred family hours Australia observes. Though we never know who’ll be there, we do know what we’ll be eating. It just wouldn’t be right without large platters of fruit, bacon with maple syrup and Dick’s incredible blueberry pancakes. I’ll miss them sorely this year. To all of you in the Breakfast Club, I say “Fröhliche Weihnachten!” Thankyou Leemen family for being our hosts, neighbours and dear friends.

My apologies that the first set of photos failed to load. I’ve since added some more that Dick has dug out and scanned for us.

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9 Responses to “#11 The Breakfast Club”


  1. 1 Jill December 24, 2010 at 1:10 am

    Dear Ally,

    Writing through teary eyes, I have to thank you for your wonderful sharing (Dick just commented behind me ‘That brought tears to my eyes’, too, so I’m not alone). You’re so right, as I said ages ago, it seems, my wonderful wintery Christmas in the Massachusetts at 17 was that bitter-sweet experience of beauty, warmth, new (to me) customs (including Swedish traditional ‘glugg’ with its cinnamon and alcohol comsumed by drinkers and non-drinkers alike)…but strangely removed from the imprinted light and airy, summery reality of my emotions in regard to MY ‘real Christmas’. Quite a realisation. Then, even in our own country, we do not always have family about, and others, too, can be alone, so those breakfasts evolved. They’ve become precious. Maintaining this constant and yet flowing ‘family’ has been very, very special. We love being able to share it….Our love, and huge hugs, especially on Christmas morning…but also, with each of these beautiful blogs leading us there…Remember, at least one hug for each of you..You’ll have to share delivery, Jill (and Dick)

    • 2 mavisandfrank December 24, 2010 at 1:08 pm

      Thankyou Jill (and Dick of course) for making this a rich experience over so many years. Your hugs have been delivered and we’re sending some back to you all for tomorrow morning. Give my love to everyone xxx

  2. 3 Mr Buck and Sandy December 24, 2010 at 6:14 am

    Dear Ally,
    Here it is the eve of Christmas 2010 and have been reading about your adventures in Germany and your first Christmas away from home and family and I’m sure just by reading about your life through words and lovely pictures that we probably all feel that you are here with us all.
    Enjoy the day with the little family you have with you.
    We, as in, just my little family, are here celebrating Christmas, down at Tomakin, just by ourselves. Probably the first for us, just being the four of us.
    Merry Christmas
    Enjoy every minute of it
    snow and all
    Luv
    Mr Buck and Sandy

    • 4 mavisandfrank December 24, 2010 at 1:11 pm

      Merry Christmas to you all St Johns! What a lovely way to spend a Christmas, all together by the beach in a special place. Thank you for reading and commenting, so nice to know you’re enjoying it. Have a wonderful day tomorrow just the four of you. Love from Tony and Rose as well xx

  3. 5 Chris December 25, 2010 at 12:11 am

    Merry Christmas!

    1. As culturally respective, I “just” post it here, and tomorrow (as in after sunrise) I will call you guys to wish you a merry Christmas.

    2. What are these hats about? Is it Burger King hats?

    3. You guys feel free to check out my fb page for fresh from sd card-pics of a giant, traditional german christmas tree-layout. It is so big this time my mum almost ran out of deco.

    4. As it is sometimes hard to realize (and distinguish from all the crappy fake coke-christmas(s) atmospheres) we after all are united in one big Birthday party for Baby J., and no matter how different the celebration habits may be, he respects all of them through joining the party on every continent and in every timezone! It´s gotta be said ^^

    5. plz pray that Anne digs herself through the snow tomorrow and can join meeeee!

  4. 6 Arthur December 25, 2010 at 2:13 am

    Hi Ally, Tony and Rose,

    We attended the Breakfast club for what we think is the 14th time today. Numbers were down a bit – only Peta and Skel to represent generations X and Y! We had a new inductee though – Grandma was there this year. She also got to wake up to Peter Coombs blasting out on the stereo to invite everyone to sit around the Christmas tree and see what surprises Santa had delivered.
    The turkey and pork or in the oven and Christmas lunch is an hour or two away. Like yours, (and Mr Buck and Sandy’s) it will be a very quiet affair this year. We will raise a glass to absent friends and family as we tuck into the roasts!
    Merry Christmas to you all.We are pleased that Tim is there to share it with you and that you appear to be getting a true white Christmas.

    Lots of love

    Dad and Mum

  5. 7 Georg (Georgina) and Chris December 25, 2010 at 4:28 am

    Dear Ally, Tony and Rose,

    We were both very blessed to be able to sit around the special Christmas breakfast table with such special friends again this morning, tucking into Dick’s wonderful blueberry pancakes topped with Jill’s precious maple syrup. The memories came thick and fast and all thoughts were with those of our three families who are not physically with us this Christmas.

    Like Jill and Dick, we too teared up at your beautiful words capturing those special memories of Christmases past – remembering our house guests who have been welcomed to Jill and Dick’s – Ami from Japan and later her husband, Kazu; Gianluca from Switzerland and Jac’s Finnish school friends. And, as you were enjoying your Christmas chat with your loving family, we too “skyped” with Jac this morning as she shares this Christmas with the Glenen family in Nova Scotia.

    Well the pork is cooked and crackled, presents are packed into the car and we are off to a hot dinner on this 31 degree day….Enjoy your special white Christmas and the wonderful memories you are making…we missed you all very much. Fond love and Happy Christmas! Georg and Chris…xxx

  6. 8 Ai December 25, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Hallo, Alison! Fröhliche Weihnachten from Minden!
    It has been a long time!

    I rang the Leemens in the morning (Australian Time) for Christmas wishes and then they told about me your blog 🙂
    As first year member of The Breakfast Club, I enjoyed reading it!

    I am also now in Germany and having very white Christmas 😉

    Merry Christmas to all of you and wishing you have a happy new year!!

  7. 9 Ami January 7, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Such beautiful words for wonderful hearts..! Thank you for shareing them 🙂


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