12 Days of Christmas – Gillian Torckler

Hello to Gillian from over the oceans in Warkworth, New Zealand. It is so grand having her joins these 12 Days of Christmas. Hope I get to see her again soon. She has presented a memory that is hilarious … and sneaky and oh so much fun. You will love reading Gillian’s family memory.

My best Christmas memories are both from my own childhood and my own kids’ experiences of this intriguing time of year. I say intriguing because it’s a weird time where we celebrate the birth of a great leader, regardless of our religious standpoint; and we shower our kids with gifts, but at the same time, deny our role in their selection. But who doesn’t like a surprise gift?

As a writer, I’m going to stick with the best story that I can recount with minimal embellishment (because none is needed). Our boys were about 10 and 7 when they hatched up a plan to place a camera under one of our couches, aimed it at our Christmas tree, and programme it to take pictures every 30 seconds all night long. The year before, the older child received an animation software package from the red-suited man, which he now intended to use to trick the man himself. The boys hatched a plan to record the moment that Santa arrived to fill our house with treats. You see, they had never seen Santa and had their suspicions.

On Christmas morning, they were more excited to watch their video than to open the mass of presents that had appeared overnight. And we all gathered around a tiny screen to watch the time-lapse movie. And suddenly, there he was, the red-suited man moving across the room. A fuzzy red streak moved through the frame…once, twice, three times. The red man moved towards, and then sat down in front of, the camera. The screen went dark for 30 minutes – his black gumboots were blocking the view. When the black screen disappeared, he was nowhere to be seen. But the evidence of his visit was everywhere – a crumpled-up napkin and a plate with a few crumbs left; and a Christmas tree surrounded by presents.

The frustration was palpable; the disappointment real. But both boys were lovingly humbled by knowledge that once again they had been outfoxed by their beloved (and mischievous) parents.


Gillian Torckler writes non-fiction mostly – her first book Underwater Wonders of New Zealand was released in 1999, and she started writing for kids soon afterwards. Her first picture book, The Stuck There Forever Boat (2007), is based on a South Pacific atoll and touches on the topic of global warming. Her next picture book is based on World War II and the publisher is the process of finding an illustrator. In the meantime, Gillian has taken a creative detour and written two knitting books which were released in 2016 – Hats to Knit and Knitting for the Outdoors, both published by David Batemen in New Zealand, with US co-editions.

Find out more here: website – www.gilliantorckler.com

Leave a comment