Tuesday, December 19, 2006


I need a little Christmas this December, 2006 because this year has been a very sad year.

On a personal level, we have lost treasured friends and dear acquaintances through ill health and unfortunate accidents.

Also I would like to include the sudden death of a fellow Queensland resident, the endearingly zealous and genuine conservationist, Steve Irwin.

I have never met Steve but our family has visited his wonderful Australia Zoo twice over the years and we have witnessed how he has invested money accumulated from his many enterprises back into the development of his zoo with the view to protecting endangered species.

It is humbling to acknowledge that he has spent his relatively short life and his family's income towards protecting other beings on this precious and increasingly fragile planet.

Below is a photograph we took in 1993 at Australia Zoo of the late Harriet the Galapagos tortoise. She would have been 163 years of age when this photograph was taken and she went on to live to 175 years in the best of retirement homes thanks to the Irwin Family.

So, given that it has been such a sad year, I have done something most unusual for me. I started celebrating Christmas on the 1st of December.

I have erected and decorated the Christmas tree.

I have placed decorations about the living area and carefully displayed any Christmas cards given to us with their greetings of love and best wishes.

I’ve been playing our Christmas carols CD, “Crooners at Christmas” for a fortnight.

I know it is annoying the rest of the family but there is nothing more soothing and reassuring than Dean Martin singing “Silent Night”.

I have been wearing Christmas themed earrings since the 8th of December when we attended our first Christmas function.

Our tasteful Christmas lights display was placed about the front patio of the house yesterday.

And, this week at work, I will be wearing reindeer antlers on my head to inspire and amuse the library patrons.

Yesterday I cooked the Christmas pudding.

Most importantly, on Christmas Eve, we will attend the beautiful church in town where we were married and the children were baptised.

Yes, everything is falling into place and I am feeling very relaxed and happy about this special season.

Christmas is not just for children, it is also for people who believe in the magic of Santa Claus and the message of hope, peace and love that was evoked by the birth of a baby.

Yes, Christmas is not just for children but for adults who refuse to be cynical and believe that, although it is mandatory to grow old, it is optional to grow up.

Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all.

Monday, December 04, 2006


I bought some peaches last Friday knowing that they would take a while to fully ripen. So for a couple of days, as I passed the fruit bowl, I would pick one up and sniff at it and gently press against its skin, hopeful that it would be ready to devour.

Each time, as I smelt the sweet perfume of the fruit, I was made aware of two things. Firstly, I was reminded that stone fruit are my favourite fruit. But, more importantly, I realised that the scent of stone fruit evokes cherished memories from my childhood Christmases.

My younger sister and I shared a bedroom all through our childhood and early teen years. Each Christmas Eve we would sing ourselves to sleep with all the Christmas carols we knew. Most of the carols would involve snow. I am not sure why we didn’t pick up on the absurdity of the situation given that we were sweltering away in a humid Queensland summer.

We would finally drop off to sleep comforted by the knowledge that there was a pillow case draped over the end of our beds.

Yes, we had come to trust that Santa Claus would find this handy little item of bed linen and deposit our presents within it.

In the morning we would rummage through it and extract our various presents and then, as we reached to the bottom of the pillow case, we find the added treats of stone fruit, exotic nuts and lollies.

As stone fruit were in season, we would find a couple of fresh plums, apricots and/or peaches. Obviously Santa Claus must stop off and buy locally as he races about the globe.

The nuts were also a great treat. They were also a great challenge. These tasty walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, almonds and, in particular, the macadamias were safely hidden in their tough shells which meant that we would have to spend quite some time during Christmas Day endeavouring to extract them.

Tiny nervous fingers would bravely hold the nut as a hammer or brick would be called upon to smash open the shells on a slab of concrete.

The results were random. It could be bruised fingers, a mangled mash of shell and nut or, if the angle of the blow was a bit off-centre, a macadamia nut would skid off sideways at speed and never be sighted again.

I still feel the need to have a bag of nuts in their shells to play with every Christmas.

My older sister had a difficult time letting go of the pillow case Christmas tradition. She continued to lay out a pillow case for herself (even as she approached her 30s) whenever she was spending Christmas Eve at the family residence. And, invariably, Santa Claus would deliver something to her.

I continued the pillow case tradition when we had our children. I embroidered their names on their own Christmas pillowcase as I knew, from experience, Santa Claus does deliver to pillow cases.

Yes, I have a lot of faith in Santa Claus. And it was from an early age that I found out that I didn’t have to worry about that “naughty or nice” list that Santa supposedly makes each year before bestowing gifts on little kiddies.

I say this because of an incident which occurred one Christmas morning. I can’t quite calculate which Christmas it was because it was quite some time ago and I was very young at the time.

We were at my grandmother’s house for Christmas and my younger sister and I had been bedded down in an anteroom at the front of the house.

Okay, it wasn’t an anteroom but I have always wanted to use that word and now I have used it twice.

As most Australians will know, the room at the front of the house was merely an enclosed front verandah. Enclosing patios and verandahs was something people would do to their houses when their family outgrew their number of bedrooms.

Anyway, back to the Christmas morning.

I awoke early as kids are wont to do on any morning but especially on Christmas morning.

I checked the contents of my pillow case and, as my younger sister was still asleep, I had the opportunity to peer into her pillow case to see what Santa had brought her.

We had been given a doll each, a few other miscellaneous toys, and the fruit, nuts and lollies.

My doll was a pink plastic cherub. She was okay. But she wasn’t overly special. Just a baby doll in baby doll clothes with a pink plastic head with painted-on light brown curls.

My sister’s doll was very special. She was a more grown-up doll in a sophisticated emerald green velvet dress.
But the thing I really liked about my sister’s doll was that she had a head of realistic looking hair.

This elegant doll had a wonderful head of shiny dark brown curls and it was a coiffure which, now that I think of it, looked very much like the hairdo that my beloved mother wore at the time. No wonder I loved her!

I felt immediately that Santa Claus had made a delivery error when depositing these two dolls in their respective pillow cases. It seemed obvious to me that, being the older sister, the more grown-up doll must have been meant for me. So I quickly swapped the dolls and went back to bed.

Although I felt Santa Claus would see that I had done the right thing by correcting his error, I was still a little uneasy.

What if my mother had been curious as to what Santa Claus had given her two younger daughters and late Christmas Eve she had done a bit of a pillow case check before going to bed?

The answer to that question hung over my little blonde head until everyone was up and about and showing off their presents later that morning.

To my relief, nothing untoward was noted and I knew that the doll swapping incident was now something only Santa Claus and I needed to know about.

Santa Claus continued to fill my pillow case each year so I knew that he was okay about my decision.