12 Days of Christmas, Day 11 – Hazel Edwards

For the penultimate day of our 12 Days of Christmas for this year we have Hazel Edwards. Hazel is a wonderful creator of books for readers of all ages … but especially for children and young adults. In 2009 she was appointed 2009 Nanjing-Australia cultural exchange author, nominated for the Astrid Lindgren memorial award and recevied the ASA’s 2009 Medal.
Hazel’s latest picture books include Plato the Platypus Plumber (part-time)’ and the new Hooray! There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Having a Birthday Party. She also has cowritten the young adult novel f2m;the boy within.

Hazel offers us a beautiful reflection of her early Christmas traditions carried on today – as well as a Christmas postponed!Memories of Christmas

  • Christmas was catching up ‘with extended family’ time.
  • And food! Family Christmassy recipes handed down, by e-mail now
  • Aunty Violet’s shortbread triangles
  • Christmas pudding with ‘old pre-decimal sixpences’ which you could swap for ‘real’ money
  • Ham on the bone with mustard sauce, and then recycled into sandwiches for Boxing Day cricket picnics
  • Silly hats
  • Bad cracker jokes
  • Trying to fit batteries into toys
  • Assembling bikes with bits missing
  • Candle carol services in the park

Timing was complicated on Christmas Day because as a teenager, we lived behind our country ‘General Store’ which was open seven days a week, except for Christmas Day and Good Friday. Our Christmas meal was cold, not just because of the 30 degree heat, but because often we’d had to chauffeur elderly relatives long distances.
My mother’s family were tee-totalling Baptists which meant no alcohol. All the oldies loved my ‘butter’ sauce, which ignited with a blue flame really well on the Christmas pudding, and then they had an afternoon nap, after the traditional game of cricket.

And they loved playing games, whether chess, crib, Monopoly, Scrabble or beach cricket. That’s a tradition we’ve continued, with a New Year’s Day extended brunch (10 am until dusk) and cricket match in our park opposite, with flexible rules, elastic team numbers and a million umpires. Height, skill, age and the ability to run, don’t matter. We’ve even had a wheelchaired relative batting with a 5 year old who runs in lieu. Next door, a line of plum trees remained from the old orchard. Those plums ripened about Christmas time and I made icecream served at the cricket interval after the chicken and drinks.

Once I had my own family, my mother ‘handed over’ Christmas to me, including the tree which had been in the shop window. I was fond of that ‘folded down’ stick, and every year we all decorated ‘the stick’ on that first weekend in December – until my family complained. Last year (2008) we bought a new lights-attached tree. It’s quicker, but not the same. The youngest child gave out the Christmas gifts from the tree with some of the gifts being hand-made or experiences. Our children went to the hospital Christmas morning to do the ‘rounds of the patients’ with their father. It was expected that you ‘did’ things, not just ‘got stuff’.

But my most memorable Christmas was the postponed one I had in the Antarctic. Because the polar ship became beset, the Norwegian captain gave all the crew a crystal iceberg ornament.

That was memorable.

Jump to Hazel’s website to find out more about her Antarctic expeditions and also the books that flowed from that trip.

And now there is just one more memory to come for this Christmas Time.

One Response to 12 Days of Christmas, Day 11 – Hazel Edwards

  1. Oh, I have to check out the website now!

    Angela January 9, 2010 at 7:22 am Reply

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