Melissa, what’s a favorite holiday memory?
Episode #
Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Melissa, what’s a favorite holiday memory?

The Storyworth Podcast
Episode Description

In this episode of the Storyworth podcast, we share a nostalgic story about the first time our author ever saved up enough money to buy a Christmas present for her parents. The story celebrates the joy of Christmas in Australia, where it's a warm summer holiday perfect for swimming and outdoor picnics. After hearing this heartwarming story, we'll speak with the author about her childhood spent exploring the Australian bush.

My favorite holiday as a child was Christmas. Since we lived in Australia, we celebrated Christmas during the middle of summer holidays, and combining my favorite season with my favorite holiday seemed only natural. December always began in a swelter. Flies stuck to the screen door and the bush hummed with cicadas and the Blue Mountains shimmered sapphire in the heat. We drowsed through the last week of school, our legs sticking to the chairs while flies buzzed through the open windows. On the last day of school, we chattered excitedly on the bus and then ran home from the bus stop. Not only was the school year over, but we had six weeks to explore the bush-covered foothills and swim in the Nepean River behind our house. And Christmas was only two weeks away.

During the first days of summer holidays, I’d forget about geography and math and lay on a lawn chair in the shade of our backyard gum tree and read Christmas stories, to the sounds of ski boats on the Nepean, and swimmers’ laughter floated up through the heat.

While Mum baked fruit cakes stuffed with Brazil nuts and cherries to give to the neighbors, my siblings Todd, Shellie, and I roamed the bush. As the oldest, at 12, I warned my younger siblings to watch out for death adders and to not pick the plants with prickles on them.

Some afternoons, Shellie and I set up camp by a nearby creek that pooled and bubbled over slippery rocks before spilling into the Nepean. We breast-stroked through one of the deeper pools, pretending we were the girls in the Skinny Dip perfume commercial. Afterward, we sunbathed on sandstone slabs jutting over the water, and talked about our Christmas lists. We planned to buy Mum and Dad a hammock that we’d seen advertised on the back of a spray starch can, for only $12.99 plus postage. All of us would contribute pocket money, the hammock would be sent parcel post to the Emu Plains train station, and I would ride the three miles to the train station on my bike to pick it up, then smuggle it home so we could wrap it and surprise our parents on Christmas morning...

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