12 Days of Christmas, Day 1 – Glenda Millard

Once again it is time for some of my friends (12 to be precise) who are kids book creators to add their favourite Christmas Memoriesto this blog.And for the First Day of Christmas this year what better way to begin than with the inaugural winner of the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for our region, Glenda Millard.

And Glenda says, “All of my life I’ve lived close to my birthplace in the Goldfields region of Central Victoria, Australia. Writing has helped me discover many things about myslef and one of them is that what I write is almost always nformed by this place of my bleonging where my roots reach deeply down into the past.”

Here is Glenda’s beautiful memory of Nana and a bag of silvery pudding money.

I’ve got a bag of pudding money in the top drawer of my writing desk; sixpences and threepenny bits. The oldest coin has King George’s head on it and was minted in 1911. The coins were Nana’s before they were mine. I can’t think of childhood Christmases without thinking of Nana.

On December 24th we’d collect freshly dispatched poultry from Chooky Reid’s place on Redfern’s Hill. When we got home we’d sit on the front verandah and Uncle Ray, Nana, Mum and Dad would plunge the chooks into buckets of scalding water and pluck them. Afterwards they’d drink Six O’clock lager they’d bought from the Winter’s Flat corner store and my sister and I would eat home-made red ice-blocks from square cones.

She and I pretended to believe in Father Christmas for much longer than we actually did. It was a lovely game of make-believe while we knew that it was Mum who sewed the rag dolls, stitched on their smiles, plaited their woollen hair and made clothes for them with scraps of fabric left over from our Sunday School Picnic frocks. Dad made us new bicycles from bits and pieces of old ones. He re-spoked wheels, painted frames and decked them out with transfers, new rubber grips and shining silver bells.

Nana’s was four houses up from ours on the corner of Princess and Elizabeth Streets. We’d walk there after breakfast on Christmas day, shell peas and wait for out aunts, uncles and cousins to arrive. My bachelor uncles could tell the best yarns of anyone I’ve ever met. They told the same ones every year. I knew them all off by heart and would prompt them if they dared leave one out. Uncle Jack from Carnegie had fox terrier that could jump high enough to look in the fly-wire in the top half of the back door and his wife, Aunty Val, could sing Frank Ifield songs and yodel in the right places.

The only time Nana’s dining room was used was on Christmas Day. It was a small room with a fireplace, a piano, a Singer treadle sewing machine and a huge table. There was just enough room for us to all squeeze in around the table. We ate the chooks we’d plucked the night before and had plum pudding for desert. I always seemed to find more coins in my pudding than anyone else did. I thought it was pure luck and it wasn’t until I was much older that I discovered Nana added them to the pudding slices just before they were served. In later years Nana was like a banker, we took our ‘old money’ to her and she exchanged it for decimal currency. I still think I’m lucky, having Christmases like that to remember and my bag of silvery pudding money.

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