12 days of Christmas – Sherryl Clark

For the last day of 2013 here comes my friend (okay they are all my friends but I have to mention that at least once in these posts) Sherryl Clark and her Christmas reflection of family, food, decorations, the Christmas photo … and a Christmas pillowcase (not the stocking!). How absolutely wonderful this is.


Sherryl Clark

Living on a farm meant every year we had a real Christmas tree. As we had no pine trees growing anywhere, it required a trek up the railway line to where they grew wild on the banks. Dad would insist on the smallest tree we could find because it was always him who had to carry it home.

We had certain decorations that had been in the family for years. I remember the rows of coloured metal beads, silver, red and gold, and the few baubles. Heaven help you if you broke one! There was no money to buy more, so in later years we started making paper monstrosities to hang on the tree instead. We also tried to make paper chains and lanterns that never lasted more than one year.

Not for us the stockings for Santa. We had pillow cases. You could fit a decent amount of presents in a pillow case. I used to shake my head in amazement at pictures of socks and stockings hung out for Santa. What on earth could you fit in one of them? Being the youngest in the family, I was the last to “believe” in Santa, and refused to give up on him, despite my older sister and brother trying to convince me he wasn’t real.

Every Christmas Day that I can remember was spent with my mum’s side of the family – her parents, our family and her brother’s family. Mum, Nana and Aunty took turns hosting, and all prayed, no doubt, for fine weather so us kids could be kept outside. Nana hand-made all of her gifts and we would sigh at receiving yet another soap holder or something embroidered.

Food was ham and salad. I never ate turkey at Christmas until a few years ago. Earlier in the year, Dad would go to the Agricultural Show in town and always won Mum a ham for Christmas in the raffles. Goodness knows how many tickets he had to buy, but it was a tradition. In those days, jellied vegetables were the fashion, so there were both peas and beetroot in jelly (aspic), which the kids loathed. We all hung out for pudding – Mum had a store of sixpences and threepences, and sometimes she’d put in her wedding ring as well. My favourite was trifle. Even though I was a farm girl, I’d scrape off the cream (I still hate cream) and make sure I got extra custard.

The finale to every Christmas Day was the family photo. We’d all line up, kids in front, older teenagers groaning and trying to hide at the back. I still have a couple of these in my old albums and they are such fun to look back on.


Sherryl Clark lives in Melbourne, Victoria and has more than 60 books published, ranging from picture books to YA fiction. Her latest book is a verse novel, Runaways, and her middle grade novel, Dying to Tell Me will be released in Australia in February 2014.

Her website is www.sherrylclark.com, and she has a poetry site at www.poetry4kids.net.

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