Christmas was such an exciting time. We were accustomed to making our own fun, a toy was indeed the culmination of best behaviour. Celluloid dolls, matchbox cars, all too often new school shoes, pencils and an occasional red string bag of unshelled peanuts. A few days before Christmas Santa would visit the Darawank Dance Hall and produce presents from his big brown sack.1
Our whole family would congregate for Christmas lunch at our grandparents. The only decorations were puddings hanging on strings around the verandah, and a bunch of wild Christmas bells in the lounge. Gran would make a batch of ginger beer, and a bowl of boiled lollies was carefully distributed.
Our grandparents had a huge mulberry tree that we would all climb looking for a crop to eat while chattering for hours. Chapman Road was just a sand track, the boys would climb into old tyres and roll each other along until they were dizzy. The girls would pick wild flowers for our mothers – flannel flowers and boronia.
We didn’t care too much for lunch. We would sit on the verandah dangling our legs over the side drinking ginger beer, and as long as we were given a piece of pudding with a silver threepence we were happy. After lunch we would play cricket having to steal the dog’s ball and watch for snakes if someone hit a ‘six’ into the scrub.
The day sadly soon turned to dusk and we made our way home having created memories we would relive in our later years.
Author: Marilyn Boyd (nee Chapman)
1 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 25 December 1926, 4.