In light of the traditional Cup Day blog posts along the lines of “I don’t get it, why are people having fun without me? They must be wrong, I can’t just let them get on with having fun, I’d better tell them they’re wrong.” I thought I’d ponder my family’s Cup Day traditions.

Through the 80s and most of the 90s I celebrated Cup Day by having lunch with my grandparents. My Grandma and her siblings decided at some point that Cup Day would be there family day of obligation because they didn’t get together for Christmas or Easter. They all enjoyed placing small bets, remembering their Dad’s keen gambling habit, teasing each other about their gambling successes and losses and generally acting like siblings. There was an all day feast-type situation with cold food because my Grandmother, her sisters and her sisters in law had more sense than to try to cook and gamble at the same time. We’d get up early and drive from our house very close to the Flemington racecourse to the other side of town, and try to miss traffic by staying out til well after the last race.

My great-uncles would give us instructions on how to run a small gambling operation, we’d cut up all the little strips of paper necessary for a sweep, and find a couple of bowls to pick names from. Then we’d find an ashtray, declare one copy of the Form Guide the official family gambling copy, and make sure we had a few working biros.Then we’d sit down, stick our initials next to horses names that we liked, and pop 20c in the ashtray. Winner took all in minor races, as I recall. It was high stakes stuff, with as much as a dollar or two up for grabs in each race.

Since my great aunts and uncles and grandparents starting spending their Cup Days in hospitals, nursing homes and now (with a couple of healthy exceptions) cemetries, I find myself at a bit of a loss for something to do. So I think I might have to start something new. This year the lad and I made scones, and some rellies are coming over any minute to help us eat them while watching the horsies. Next year I might have to invite a few more people, and start teaching the pre-schoolers about running a sweep.

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