12 Days of Christmas, Day 11 – Libby Hathorn

Welcome to the 11th Day of Christmas and here is Libby Hathorn. Libby and I have been friends for many, many years and it is a thrill to be have her here.

Libby is an award-winning author of fifty books for children, some of which have been translated and adapted for stage and screen. Her work has won honours in Australia, in the United States, United Kingdom and Holland. Her most recent work is The ABC Book of Australian Poetry.  Appointed to the National Advisory Committee for Australian Poetry, 2011, her latest picture storybook in verse is  I Love You Book.

And now read Libby’s reflections on Christmas traditions and togetherness …
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I was enjoying a swim at a friend’s pool when a newly arrived Englishman commented that Christmas here in Australia does not feel like Christmas to him at all. It set me thinking what does Christmas feel like to me, and realising how weather and location affect tradition and slowly shape their own traditions.

Christmas has always meant the togetherness of family and friends but over a span of years some things have changed.

If I remember the Christmases of childhood, like so many ‘coastal’ Australians, they are like a great sunny, mostly carefree dream, that featured a tree and a church service and presents (often books), and holidays that meant beach, beach, beach. Of an inviting stretch of soft Sydney sand, of canvas beach bags and the heavy wooden umbrellas resplendent with stripes to be dug in for the day-long stay; of the ineffectual zinc we plied on noses and shoulders, of the rock and roll of the surf so many kids in the shallows, screams mingling with birdcalls and laughter, or the wailing of some lost or soundly dumped small child; of scrambles around the rocks to wonder at life in the ponds and crevices despite the predatory surf. And often next day, of shoulders that smarted and noses that peeled as the sun, not so welcome then, licked at our wounds. No 30+ to slather on and protect us then, as it did this Christmas at a magical harbourside pool with family.

Christmas these days might mean a midnight service, always the tree with more and more decorations and presents to be had, among them lots of books, and of course gorgeous summer weather. Of striking out into blue blue water, of drifting and looking back at the busy little beach with a new swath of umbrellas and kids and parents and friends all enjoying a Christmas that to me, is not quite replete without sun and water (as my friend’s is not quite replete without snow). My Christmas now means grandchildren and great nephews and nieces. Our family has extended with marriage of my niece to a Muslim and a great difference to my childhood, is the easy inclusion of their family at our Christmas with the knowledge there is much to celebrate about just being able to be together. Probably when I reflect, wherever I was to be, sun and surf not withstanding, it’s this togetherness makes it truly feel like Christmas to me.

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Do also drop in to see Libby’s website here. and also 100 Views here.  

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