I was told at Sunday School to never leave the Christ out of Christmas so spent years writing the whole word. Fifty years later I have moved on and think how convenient it is to use the letter X so that C can be used for another topic.
There was Xmas before Yerrinbool and Xmas after. In Sydney I remember two, so must have been 4 and 5. The first one was memorable in that I was led into the breakfast room to see presents from wall to wall. I had never seen so many. I can only remember a doll’s pram, tea set, a doll, a toy sewing machine and a small table and chairs but it certainly was a bonanza that year. The next year we had a tree and the presents were draped over it. There was a Texas Ranger outfit with long trousers and a waistcoat with a plastic star, a popgun and a cap gun and a bright red toy MG.
After the move the presents dwindled to books and sensible underwear but as I grew older I enjoyed the trappings of Xmas more, hanging decorations from the ceiling and on Xmas Eve, selecting a branch from one of the pine trees and installing it in the lounge room. Being a tree branch it always had a tendency to lean over in one direction and had to be tied to the curtain rail to remain standing.
Xmas dinner (eaten at lunchtime) was always roast chicken and baked vegetables.
This was followed by plum pudding and custard which I only ate to find the threepences inside. To my annoyance the adults would sleep in the afternoon so I would read my new books or wander around impatiently outside until they woke up.
My grandmothers didn’t believe in spoiling children and as I was an only child they were concerned I might be given too much and take it for granted. Maybe that is why the presents became fewer as I grew older. Every year, without fail, there was a Readers’ Digest Annual for Children which provided a neverending resource of interesting information and added greatly to my knowledge of American culture.
After my father died Christmas was usually spent with my grandmother Kay, Uncle Claude and my mother at The Waterhole. This is a photo taken in 1968 of the newly decorated lounge room, all orange and brown, my mother, grandmother and the Scots pine branch Xmas tree.