Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Memories

I smile at the memory of my childhood Christmases when my parents were happy and still together. I was an only child, much loved in the centre of their world. We had moved to Molong, a country town in a sheep and wheat belt.  Our extended family lived in Australian cities. It was quite lonely, so we didn't spend our first Christmas in Molong. We travelled back to Sydney to visit my grandparent and uncle, who lived on the cliffs in Coogee. That was a magical place. The stories I used to make up about smugglers and cliff caves and undersea tunnels.

Well, this particular Christmas Eve, I was excited about Christmas and spending time with my Nana and Pop, but at the same time I was feeling a bit low, because eight-year-old Beverley Zimmerman had stated quite flatly there was no Santa Claus. I didn't believe her, of course, but it was an awful idea to have in my mind at Christmas. I told Mum I wished I could wipe it from the slate in my mind.

Because of the excitement, I couldn't eat the baked dinner my Nana had prepared. No amount of coaxing could get the fork to my lips, although, I would have managed some of her homemade ice cream that I'd watched her hand-whip during the day. I was sitting between my Dad and my uncle Royd  with my chair against the wall, moving food around my plate. I didn't take any notice when the phone rang

Mum got up to answer it in the hall. She came back with a huge grin. 'Wendy, Santa wants to talk to you.'  I didn't wait for Dad or Royd to let me out. I crawled under the table and in a state of shock I picked up the receiver. I can't remember what that lovely old voice said, except that I should eat up all my vegetables and go to sleep early so he could bring my presents.

I came back to my vegetables and shovelled them in so fast Dad was worried I'd be sick. He said, 'You can leave them now.'  But I wouldn't because Santa said.

The next morning I ran to the lounge room to see if Santa had been. Under the tree was my favourite doll, which Mum had sent to Santa at the Icy Pole, a couple of weeks earlier. She was dressed up as the most beautiful fairy queen, with silver wand and crown. Her white taffeta and tulle gown was covered in little gold sequins. I was so thrilled that my young friend had been mistaken. There really was a Santa. That was the year Nana and Pop gave me my first watch. It had four tiny rubies on the quarter-hours. My uncle had one of the new His Masters Voice radiograms, something I hadn't seen before, and he played Christmas records. Holding my fairy queen, I danced around the room to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

During the day while helping to clear up the wrapping paper in Uncle Royd's room, I found a red and black dartboard that Santa had forgotten to put under the tree. Well, I figured, he couldn't think of everything, he was in a hurry and he had taken time out to call me.

Back in Molong, when I was ten, I spent the lead up to Christmas sewing presents for my dolls and teddy bear. I cut up and hand hemmed old sheets and petticoats for little cot covers and shawls. I cut holes in old lace doylies to make hats and skirts and painted red nail polish on dried pumpkin seeds and strung them into necklaces. On Christmas Eve I wrapped up the presents and tied them with ribbons. With my dolls lined up on the floor, I placed their parcels in front of them and went to bed. Then, first thing Christmas morning, before my parents woke, I sat with my dolls and we opened their presents together. Imagining their delight and seeing how pretty they looked in their gifts was a lovely experience for me. 

After Mum's turkey roast and the plum pudding, which had silver threepences hidden in it, I sat in the shade with my new Enid Blyton book and The Girls' Own Annual. Beside me, tied to a stake under the willow tree was Barney my sheep; Spotty Boy, my fox terrier; an ice-cold glass of lemonade and a piece of Mum's homemade Christmas cake.  Total bliss. 

As a mother, I always spent the lead up to Christmas sewing for my kids. Somehow I'd established a pattern. Sewing became part of my Christmas scene: decorations, craft gifts, a skirt for Mum, a new dress for me; one year I made trousers for my husband and my dad.

I guess it all started with that Christmas in Coogee.  Mum was a beautiful sewer. I learned years later that Mum and Nana had been on hands and knees in the dining room, searching for any stray sequins.

Oh yes, I actually met Santa. It was at a family funeral when I was an adult. We gave a lift to my mother's aging Uncle Darcy, and Mum told me who he really was.

Merry Christmas one and all!

Wendy Laharnar
MuseItUp author
The Unhewn Stone – coming August 2011


Rosalie Skinner said...

Great memories Wendy. They are precious! Imagine getting a phone call from Santa. That is priceless.
I miss the tuppences in the pudding.
This year my daughter is sewing for Christmas, perhaps she's going to create for her children, the same sort of memories of Christmas that you have. Wouldn't that be sweet!
Thanks for sharing. I hope this year's Christmas is memorable too. In all the best ways.

J.Q. Rose said...

What a lovely family--thinking of calling the doubting little girl. I remember I learned about Santa when I overheard my parents deciding about buying the ballerina doll for me. When she showed up under the tree, I knew where it had come from. But the cookies and milk were gone! Surely Santa brought the beautiful doll.

I am not familiar with the three tuppences in the pudding. For the three wisemen?

Roseanne Dowell said...

What wonderful Christmas memories. You painted such a beautiful picture, I could see you there pushing your food around on your plate and later opening gifts with your dolls. I hope every Christmas is as memorable.

Wendy said...

Hi Rosalie,
How lovely that your daughter is sewing for Christmas. She'll have the double thrill of giving and giving what she created. The recipients will feel the love.

Thank you for visiting JQ. Children are so creative when they want to believe so strongly. You noticed the milk and cookies were gone and that was enough reassurance for you. That's lovely.
Threepence pronounced (thripence) the small silver coin before the decimal age. :) The pudding was laced with these coins as a treat and miraculously everyone got at least one (if they didn't, it meant they swallowed it) but the children always seemed to get more. Now I boil up the gold coins and feed them in at the last minute. You know what bugs me though. My kids didn't really like the fruit pudding & custard, so they'd play around with it until they found the money. Then they were too full to eat any more. lol. Have a wondeful time in the build up to Christmas.

Brenda Hyde said...

What lovely Christmas memories:) I wish I could have seen the Fairy doll; she sounds beautiful. My mom has always sewn too, and my mother in law. I'm afraid I'm not very good in the sewing area. My mom has made my daughter pajamas since she was small and I've saved them all. I love that you made things for your kids:)

Wendy said...

Hello Roseanne,
Thank you. I'm pretty sure this Christmas will be memorable with our guest, Alma from Ohio. I wish you lots of blessings and a wonderfully memorable Christmas too.

Hi Moonsanity,
I love your beautiful, fantasy name. That's really special of you to keep all of the pjs your mother so loving sewed for your daughter. Perhaps your daughter will pass them down to her daughter when the time comes.
My fairy queen had a porcelain face, hands and legs. Her name was Narelle.
Happy Christmas to you and yours.

hotcha12 said...


Wendy said...

lol. Hotcha 12 and Merry Christmas to you too! :)

Edith Parzefall said...

What a heartwarming story. I was right there with young Wendy.

Reminds me of the one Christmas when my much younger brother was about six and started to wonder if we were secretly placing the presents under the tree. He tried to catch us, but four adults were set on not letting the spell break for him yet. Our conspiracy worked. One of my fondest Christmas memories. :-)


Wendy said...

Hi Edith,
That's so nice that the adults held the spell together for your little brother. It's the tension and happy resolution that makes memories and the memories make good stories too, don't they? :) Merry Christmas to you and JJ. I hope it's a white one!

AnneMarie Brear said...

Lovely post, Wendy.
Christmas is a special time for families.
Wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Wendy said...

Hi Anne,
Wishing you a wonderful time with your family and friends, too.