Uralla, it’s a small town in northern New South Wales Australia, and the scene of most of my childhood Christmas’s. There we’d spend the holiday at the home of my Aunty Dale and Uncle Jim, often joined by many more Aunts and Uncles and countless cousins.
It would start on a sweltering hot Christmas eve, piling into Dads car I can remember holding my bottom in the air off the seat, to save scorching it on the roasting vinyl seats. The journey seemed to take all day, but it was really only an hour. Time would move in slow motion for two days, making it feel like we had spent a week at Aunty Dales.
On arrival you had to line up for kisses. Uncle Jim used to give the biggest sloppiest wet kisses ever, on the lips. I used to cringe as kids do, which I’m absolutely sure he noticed, so would make sure I didn’t miss out, funny bugger. Thirty years on he stills gives me that big wet kiss, I no longer cringe, sloppy kisses are on the list of things that make Uncle Jim special to me.
Then came the heaviest lunch you’d had all year, a warm up for the copious amounts of food eaten in the day to come. We probably should’ve fasted for a few days beforehand in preparation. The house was constantly in motion, food was always cooking, sport was being yelled at on the Telly, a game of cricket was being played on the road, while Slim Dusty blared out of a stereo in the kitchen.
I remember whiling away a happy hour seated at the kitchen bench with my Uncle Charlie, shelling peas and attempting to hold an adult conversation. Uncle Charlie was always smiling, even today I can’t picture him without a smile. It was probably all the home brew beer shining through, but ten year old me thought he was the funniest Uncle ever.
The Christmas tree was a dinky little moulded plastic number, I’m pretty sure you can’t buy them anywhere anymore, and probably haven’t been able to for at least twenty years. This was the first plastic tree I had ever seen, I thought it was awesome – like wow it was the shape I’d always thought a tree should be! I used try and sit in the seat closest to the tree on Christmas eve after dinner, mostly because I’d eaten so much I couldn’t move, but really I just wanted to look at that tree.
The sky was so clear at night in northern NSW, you could see every star in the Milky Way, my Dad and Aunty Dale convinced us one night that if we sat out of the front step and watched the night sky we would see Rudolph’s nose light as he flew over, and when we did we had to go to bed.
As luck would have it, a satellite drifted by with a red light and off to bed we went. Brilliant plan, I have to remember to pull that one out with my kids.
The years we had Christmas at Uralla are among my fondest memories, I can’t remember the gifts, just the family. My biggest hope for Christmas, is that my children end up with the same feelings about our family gatherings as I do.
This christmas story of mine, and a few more from some lovely contributors feature in the Monkeyshine Christmas eMagazine. You’ll find a link to it at the top right of this blog