12 Days of Christmas, Day 7 – Kate Forsyth

Welcome to 2012 and the lovely Kate Forsyth for this 7th day of our 12 Days of Christmas. Kate lives in Sydney and it is always a treat when we can get together. She is the bestselling and award-winning author of more than twenty books for children and adults, including The Puzzle Ring, The Gypsy Crown, The Starthorn Tree, and The Witches of Eileanan. Her books have been translated into 10 languages.

Kate has a beautiful Christmas memory, renewed again this Christmas just gone.

When I was a little girl, we used to have Christmas every year with grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and all my cousins. There were nine of us – six boys who were nearly all blond or sandy-haired with blue eyes – and three girls. My sister Belinda was fair, I was dark, and my cousin Clare was a gorgeous strawberry blonde. It was great fun having so many to play with, and often Christmas was the only time when we were all together. I remember it always being very hot, and playing Marco Polo in the pool for hours, and cricket on the lawn. The jacaranda blossoms were the most glorious violet-blue colour, spread against the cobalt-blue sky, and dropping flowers to float in the water. My sister and my cousin Clare and I would pretend they were fairy ball gowns. The air always smelt of gardenias, and in the dining-room two long tables would be pushed together to make one. Cherries were scattered along the table, and soon our mouths and fingers would be stained dark red.

We always had the same meal for lunch on Christmas Day. Vichyssoise or cold pea and lettuce soup to begin with, then cold roast pork and ham, potato salad, mixed greens with avocado, and tomatoes with fresh basil picked from the garden. Then we’d have hot Christmas pudding with cream, icecream and homemade brandy butter. By that time, we were all so full that we ate slowly, scraping our bowls clean. After lunch we had present opening time. The youngest child was always the elf, which meant my cousin Julian was still having to be the elf when he was an adult.

In time, we all grew up and Christmas began to change. My cousins married or moved away or travelled overseas. My grandparents died, and so too did my aunt and uncle. We began to have families of our own, and in-laws to spend time with. We still ate much the same menu, though vichyssoise was replaced with seafood, and different children had turns at being the elf.

However, this week we managed to gather the whole clan together for the first time in years. Clare came from London, others from Wollongong, or the north coast. Our cousins’ children met our children for the first time since they were babies, and we smiled to see their mouths were soon all stained dark red with cherry juice, and that they all played Marco Polo for hours. Sometimes the magic of Christmas is knowing that – no matter how fast our world changes – some things will always endure.

Do have a look at Kate’s website, where you can also sign up for her regular newsletter.

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