12 Days of Christmas, Day 11 – Isobelle Carmody

It’s now the penultimate day of these 12 Days of Christmas and so for this post it is a thrill to have the delightful Isobelle Carmody, creator of the Obernewtyn titles and one of my recent favourites – the Red Wind. This memory comes all the way from Prague in Eastern Europe where she lives with her partner, Jan Stolba, a poet and Jazz musician, and her daughter Adelaide, where they are waiting for it to snow. Well, Isobelle and Adelaide are. Jan hopes only that the cold, cold sun will keep on shining.Here Isobelle shares her Christmas Memory – of presents and a special book too.

I remember this one Christmas when I was little – maybe eight or nine. We were always so anxious for it to be morning as all kids are, and in a fit of madness, because our father was very strict, my sister and my brother and I – the three eldest – decided to go down and see if Santa had come. We must have been crazy because it was still totally dark and we had not even been to sleep. It was probably around three in the morning because we lay there plotting awhile.
Finally we goaded one another out of be. I think we were all scared to death half way to the lounge and would have turned back at once if any of us had suggested it, but of course no one was going to suggest it and be the coward who could later be teased for aborting the mission. We were scared, partly because my dad would have a fit if he caught us, it is always strangely terrifying to break parental rules when you are little, you think the word is going to end, and partly because of the terror that we would actually see HIM, The Big Red Man. I think we thought of him as a sort of ultimate father figure. Probably we had him confused with God. Kids fuse so many things with a sort of poetry we adults can only marvel at – that is what I love about writing with younger kids as protagonists. That was what I actually discovered writing Greylands.
Anyway we get there and open our presents and find we had watches for Christmas. We were allowed to open our presents in the morning,  then we took them into mum and dad to show them what Santa had brought so it wasn’t such a mad thing to open them. But of course we got caught because of all the paper rattling. Well, no, the other two got caught, because when I heard footsteps I hid under the table and then I was too scared to come out, so I huddled there watching my fathers’ terrifying feet while the others were read the riot act and marched back to bed.
It was a good hour later, crippled by cramp because I had not dared move a muscle for the whole time and petrified I would get caught that I tiptoed back to bed. What a journey it can be to just get through the house past your parents’ bedroom sometimes. That is why I think I loved that book Ping. I so identified with the duck that hid because he was scared to get a spank for being the last duck on the junk, and then he endured this terrible night because of evading it, so that the spank which he still got the next day, probably seemed like a love tap. But I did not get caught and finally I was lying in be. And then I realized I still had the watch on! I had tried it on, unlike my sister. So I lay the whole night in terror that my perfidy would be discovered. It wasn’t of course and oh the relief of morning and being legitimate!
What I still wonder about to this day is why my brothers and sisters didn’t tell on me. Maybe Santa intervened. Maybe THAT was the real Christmas present!

Isobelle is an Australian Fantasy Author who has written over 30 novels and many short stories for adults and for children. She has won many awards, including CBC Book of the Year this year in the younger Readers’ Category for The Red Wind, a novel for children which she illustrated with pen and ink drawings. She has also won the CBC Book of the Year in the Older Readers Category and the Peace Prize for The Gathering, the Golden Aurealis for her urban fantasy, Alyzon Whitestarr.

Drop in to Isobelle’s website where you can and also the site all about Obernewtyn.

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