12 Days of Christmas, Day 4 – Gillian Cross

From across the other side of the world (from Australia) on the 4th Day of Christmas comes the wonderful award-winning Gillian Cross. She lives near Shaftesburyin Dorset, England. She used to live in a delighful converted barn with many rooms in Conventry.
These are her words of Christmas memories and traditions in a loving family that make Christmas magical.

Martin and I have been married since we were twenty one and both our birthdays are at Christmas (22nd and 24th December) so it’s a very special time for us. Ever since I forgot to buy him a birthday card – the year we were twenty five – we’ve always made each other bizarre cards, which have ranged from computer games to peepshows and tiny little books to nesting Russian dolls made of salt dough. So there’s always a lot of unusual art work going on in the lead up to Christmas.

Christmas itself has always been very traditional, as far back as I can remember. First, the children open the (little) presents in their stockings. Long ago it was me and my brother and sister doing the opening. Then, for years, Martin and I watched as our four children sat on the end of our bed and opened their presents. Now it’s our grandchildren’s turn. The contents of the stockings have varied over the years, but two things have always been included: a clementine* and – of course – a BOOK.

The stocking presents are from Father Christmas. All our presents from each other are heaped up round the tree. Each child is allowed to open just one before we go to church. Then no one opens anything else until after Christmas dinner, in the middle of the day. That’s traditional too, except that we have untraditional sage and onion stuffing in our turkey (because my father liked it) and untraditional rum butter with the Christmas pudding (because that’s what Martin’s mother used to make.) Oh, and there’s a huge chestnut and mushroom pie as well, because one of us is vegetarian – and the pie is so delicious that everyone else has to have some too. After dinner, we sit round and the youngest child distributes the presents, one by one. There are ten of us altogether, so it takes a long time.

That’s how I remember past Christmases – and I look forward to Christmases in the future being just the same. And now I’m off to play the Famous People Mime game** – another great tradition!

* a clementine is like a satuma or a tangerine.
** the famous People Game is played in teams
Gillian began writing for children thirty years ago. She has won the Carnegie Medal (for Wolf), and the Smarties Prize and the Whitbread Children’s Novel Award (for The Great Elephant Chase). Four of her Demon Headmaster books have been televised and she travels widely to speak about her work.
What? No aussies yet? Never fear – some amazing folks are dropping in soon!

One Response to 12 Days of Christmas, Day 4 – Gillian Cross

  1. As I’ve said before, I really enjoy reading these!

    Angela December 30, 2009 at 3:44 am Reply

Leave a comment