12 Days of Christmas – Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

To conclude this edition of the 12 Days of Christmas I am thrilled to have Marjorie Crosby-Fairall sharing her memory. Anyone who lives in Melbourne would have seen the Myer Christmas Windows based on the art from the Christmas title One Christmas Eve she created with Corinne Fenton.

Marjorie’s Christmas memory is of Christmas Ornaments – one very like my own with new ornaments being added each year. How splendid.



When I was a child, we would go out as a family to select the perfect Christmas tree. We would weigh all the options and judge the tree for size, symmetry and fullness until we could reach a family consensus. This isn’t a speedy decision with a family of seven and in the freezing cold can seemingly take forever. Once approved, the tree was carted home by my burly brothers and mounted on top of a very elaborate stage base. This stage had been handcrafted by my father and consisted of a scale model train set including mountains, villages, people, tunnels and multiple tracks and switches. The trains had speed controls and I remember my brothers staging elaborate crash scenes, including melting tinsel on the train tracks. In retrospect, it’s a wonder we didn’t burn the house down!

When I moved to Australia, I wanted to bring along some of my family’s Christmas traditions to meld with the Australian traditions. Some early attempts were a total failure; the cold White Christmas was replaced by trips to the beach and the heat would cause my grandmother’s famous ginger bread to melt into an unsightly blob. After a few false starts I settled on our family tradition of the Christmas tree, replacing the hunt for the perfect tree with a hunt for the perfect ornament.

Each Christmas we add an ornament (or two or three!) to the Christmas tree with the perfect ornament taking many shapes and forms. Our tree sports ornaments inherited from my grandmother and mother-in-law and gifted by friends and family over the years. There are ornaments from my childhood and craft projects from my son and the children of family and friends. There are ornaments that mark landmarks such as “Our first home” and “Baby’s first Christmas” and ornaments collected during our travels.

As I unwrap each and every delicate blown glass, shimmering crystal or macaroni based ornament, I am instantly transported to different places and moments in time or connect with friends and family around the world. Decorating the tree becomes an opportunity to relive key moments, remember good friends and family and to nostalgically reflect on Christmases past.

the tree today


a childhood Christmas photo (note the art easel as a gift in the background!)

When Marjorie Crosby-Fairall was a little girl she often escaped to the library spending hours devouring picture books and minutely examining their illustrations. Even in Kindergarten she was known as “The Girl Who Could Draw”.

Marjorie’s illustration work has included children’s picture books, The School Magazine and Australian Geographic. Her books appear on the Premier’s Reading Challenge lists and have been shortlisted and won awards, including the CBCA Eve Pownall Award for her first picture book.

Marjorie lives in Sydney with her husband and son. She spends her days happily illustrating books in the company of her dog, Junior. Discover more about Marjorie here: https://www.crosby-fairall.com