Our family ties

FROM tragedy often comes joy.

And for the Boyd family, this joy is never more prominent than on Boxing Day.

What started out as a way to remember a lost loved one, who tragically drowned in the 1970s, has evolved into a long running tradition.

Organisers John and Margaret McInerney host the event in their backyard - with family members trekking from Melbourne, Ocean Grove and even Queensland to attend the day.

Mrs McInerney said the family had never lost sight of the meaning of the day. She said her entire family would always treasure the honesty and innate closeness of family following a tragic incident.

“We used to meet at Lake Eppalock but one year, we lost a family member to a drowning out at the lake,” she said.

“We had a few low key years but then I thought it was important to come together, to still meet and stay close because we’re lucky to have one another.”

She said her siblings had separated over time, but the distance was never too great to lose touch altogether.

“We have a big family, more than 100 members, and as you grow older you don’t get the chance to spend Christmas with your family like you used to,” she said.

“So this is our way of staying  close.

“We never realised it would turn out to be this big when we first started though. 
“We just wanted to be together.”

Intense cricket games, trivia rounds and even a yearly hit of fairy floss play an important part in the day, with people aged between six months and 75 years old coming together all in the name of family.

Old fashioned backyard rivalry is as strong as ever, with each member battling it out for the yearly honour of prize winner.

But none of it could go ahead without the help of the community, with the local pizza shop opening solely to provide dinner to the masses, and a local business even pitching in a marquee.

Bendigo’s Mel Boyd is one of several siblings yet to miss the Boxing Day event, saying he would do anything to stay close to his family.

“I wouldn’t miss this day for the world,” he said.

“These days you just can’t put a value on family and you have to make that effort for each other.

“Quite often other people ask to come to this day, but it’s family only. That’s what makes it so special.

"And we're not stopping anytime soon, that's for sure."

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