Whatever happened to the handy hanky?

Photo taken by Akeeris

It was by chance that I came down with a cold Monday night and found myself spending Tuesday day in bed.  I felt dreadful and my nose had turned into a bit of a rain cloud, sputtering out water as heavy as the recent Melbourne rain. My garden has been loving it, but my tissue box was a little worse for wares.

It was then a thought occurred to me.  Whatever happened to the handy hanky, always in your pocket, multi-purpose and great for blowing noses?  The handkerchief is still a word that exists in the English vocabulary, so surely it cannot be extinct.

I took a few moments to think about the last time I had seen a hanky. It seems our disposable replaceable convenience loving society has killed the washable reusable always handy hanky. Thus I could not even remember the last time I saw one in a shop. I suppose that’s because health experts have deemed tissue to be more sanitary, much to the horror of all the trees slaughtered as a result of this prognosis, and the cotton which was no longer wanted by noses.

Not being one to fear germs and other nasties, I decided in that moment I had to have a hanky!  I’m all for buying local, but clearly hankies have long been replaced by tissues in my neck of the woods.  Sure, I could pay $7.00 to hop on a train into the city to wonder through the Myer and David Jones department stores to find an expensive made in China hanky with a brand name logo on it, but being sick, I wasn’t in the mood.  Seeing as we live in a packaged society where so many things can be bought elsewhere for cheaper, I decided to abandon my buy local determination just for this one thing and hop online.  .

Much to my surprise, Google popped up a website of a lady who makes handkerchiefs in Mudgee, NSW, Australia.  My first thought was: where is Mudgee in New South Wales?  Clearly it’s a very small country town, so small that even my Australian partner doesn’t know where exactly it is, so good on this lady in Mudgee for taking her business online to reach a larger audience for her seemingly dying craft!  10 minutes later I had ordered two hankies.  They were lovely and beautiful and the perfect size.  She was all too happy to send me my order straight away, and not only that, she only charged me $3.00 for shipping.

I suppose this is why so many people want to buy local, but end up buying overseas and online.  For two little hankies to go into a package, onto the back of a van and driven for 4 hours down the highway to Sydney, then onto an airplane to be flown to Melbourne, and hand delivered straight to my desk at a lesser cost than for me to take a train into the city and back, no wonder Australian shops are suffering more than usual and online shops are growing in popularity.  Clearly moving things can be much cheaper and easier than moving people!

My handy hankies should be arriving Monday or Tuesday much to my anticipated excitement.  Unfortunately (or should I say fortunately?) for them my cold is all but gone but that doesn’t matter to me.   They are cute, and they will save me alot of money overtime that would otherwise be spent on trips to the supermarket to buy boxes and boxes of tissue.

And to conclude my story of the handy hanky, last night I decided to head out to the western suburbs of Melbourne to meet my friend David for dinner.  We were eating at a local Vietnamese restaurant which was lacking in napkins.  David spilled a bit of soup on his hand and so he reached into his pocket, and much to my surprise pulled out a red and blue hankie!  So the hankie has not died.  It still exists buried in the occasional person’s pockets.  Hankies can still be bought at David Jones & Myer, and from the Swanky Hanky lady in Mudgee, NSW, and I’m sure elsewhere in the world.   Perhaps they may never die and maybe someday grow again in popularity.  So it seems the trees and cotton have reason to cheer after all.

If you live in Australia and my story has inspired you to do your own part in saving trees and supporting cotton farmers, along with country Australian businesses, you can order your own handy hanky from Donna the Swanky Hanky lady in Mudgee, NSW.   Just click on the linky here. 

February 7th Update:

My handy hankies arrived in the post and were quickly washed, folded and placed in my handbag where they are most accessible.  Between bouts of hay fever, wind, and a dusty storeroom clean-out they have been put to good use and still working great.  The tissue box that sits neatly on my desk untouched and collecting dust is suddenly getting much use as my team has come down with a summer cold.  I moved the box to the centre of the room for all to use as I really don’t need it anymore as my handy hankies are getting a good workout.  I wish I had hankies to offer everyone instead, and once the tissue box runs empty perhaps my co-workers will be more keen.   It doesn’t matter to me at the end of the day what they choose.  I love them and that’s all that matters.

Linked up at 6 Word Saturday 🙂 


Family and Christmas Day

It’s already December and by now in Canada the Christmas decorations are up, the Christmas lights strung across rooftops everywhere, and the happy Holidays music would be broadcasted from public sound systems everywhere.  The temperatures will have dropped and everyone will be hoping for a beautiful white Christmas.  You can’t help but feel the Christmas season as it’s everywhere. But I don’t live in Canada anymore, I live in Australia where things are just done differently.

A few Christmas decorations dot the city, though here in Surrey Hills, my little Melbourne suburb looks ever the same.  No Christmas music plays on Triple J national radio that wakes me up in the morning.  Work is still decorating the space with the latest product launches, and it gets dark so late this close to summer solstice I’ve been home before sunset every night and haven’t noticed any lights.   I am sure the malls and the shopping areas of the city are all decked out inside with decorations, holiday music and all the holiday sales, but I haven’t had time to begin my shopping.  It just doesn’t feel like the Christmas season yet in Melbourne.  Like everyone else I am excited that it’s finally summer, and the holidays are near. Sam and I will have two weeks off work, and my thoughts these days are more towards weeding my garden, evening walks through fragrant jasmine neighbourhoods, and upcoming BBQ’s and picnics in flower filled parks with friends.

Sam announced the other day that the family Christmas gathering will be held on December 28th.  Why December 28th, I asked?  We had the family get together after Christmas last year too!  I found myself feeling disappointed and a bit upset by this news.   How strange it is that his brothers and sisters just seem to always have other plans on Christmas Day and we will be spending yet another Christmas Day home alone, with only each other.   Christmas Day with my family back in Canada was such an important day, all the family would come over either just before Christmas or throughout the day itself, even those few who didn’t have a family to celebrate with were invited over.  No one was ever left out.   It was the one day on the calendar we all came together and as a child it was the most special day of the year because of it.   The past 10 years I have rarely been home for Christmas, but my family still includes me in their own way, and they always feel my absence.  I felt confused that Sam’s family didn’t seem to feel the same way about Christmas Day as mine, especially as they are such a close family.

Sam the calm and patient person that he is, reminded me that his family didn’t actually start celebrating Christmas until they immigrated to Australia back in the 1970s.  Being an Australian holiday, and one which everyone was off work and school, the family picked up the Christmas spirit and started to celebrate their own way, by having a day together as a family, to eat spit roast like Australians do, give a few presents to the kids, and play a good game of Mahjong.  Now that Sam and his siblings are all grown up and married with their own kids, and in-laws, they each celebrate Christmas a little differently now, but the getting together of the family for one day over the holidays to celebrate the way they have since they first landed on Australian soil has withstood time and still remains the same.  Sam said Christmas Day has never had the strong meaning to his family as it has for Australians or Canadians.  What does have meaning is family, and so to his family, the date itself is not important, making the effort to come together during the holidays is.  So on Christmas Day, Sam’s brother takes his family to church, Sam’s sister spends it with the in-laws.  And when there are no chess tournaments, or choir practices or musical performances, they take that day when they are all free, and they come together to spend it as a family, year after year.

I realized that Sam is right.  Yes traditionally Christians celebrated Christmas on December 25th as it was the day they celebrated Jesus’s birthday.  And before that Pagan’s celebrated their own festivities on December 25th.  But in this day and age, Christmas has lost it’s traditional meaning to so many including myself.  It has become to me and my family about family as it has for Sam’s family, so why am I so hung up on the actual date?  Why does the actual date have to be so adamantly celebrated when family is so much more important than a day on a calendar?  Is it because society does it and therefore so must I?  Is it because of tradition and history that has locked itself firmly into place?   I need to stop getting so stuck on the date and just appreciate the fact that I am marrying into a family that values family so strongly that it makes an effort year after to year to come together as a whole family over the holidays for one day, to spend time with each other, to value each other, and get their butts kicked at Mahjong by dad.

So this year on December 28th, after Sam and I get back from a short trip to Sydney, we will all come together as a family.  The kids will open their presents, there will be a spit roast over a backyard fire, it’s juices dripping into hot flame and hissing when it lands.  Dad will turn into a Mahjong-eer slotting tiles together in a series of “Kong’s” and “Pong’s” of high score brilliance, draining us of our multi-coloured chips.  The kids will draw, play the piano, and play kiddie games both inside and out, the cameras will be clicking and filming away, and just like every year, the whole family will have a special day.  There will be cuddles, kisses and hugs, and lots of love, and the excitement of knowing we will all come together again in another month as Chinese New Year comes early in 2012.

Linked up at Free Write Fridays.