My Christmas: Sam Gourley

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Biloela Beacon editor Jen Gourley writes to her daughter Sam about their Christmas memories.

Dear Sam,

You’ve been so patient this week while I’ve spent hours each day tippy tap typing away on my laptop, writing about some wonderful people’s Christmas memories. You said to me, “When are you going to write about my Christmas memories?” And I laughed (nicely, I might add), and said, “You don’t have lots of Christmas memories – you just turned nine.”

But I realised that you DO have lots of Christmas memories. Some you might remember all by yourself and others I can help you remember.

You were so very new for your first Christmas – you were born in the first week of December. You were very hungry (like a lot of babies) and you wanted your food every three hours. Seriously, every three hours, Sam! So, it meant that I was very, very, VERY tired. I’m quite a calm person 99% of the time, but on Christmas Day, I was tired and stressed because, silly me, I was still trying to do lots of Christmas stuff, when I should have given myself a break. So, you know what I did? I picked up the nearest thing, a container of dip, and threw it across the kitchen. It landed with a satisfying smack on the wall and burst open, with a big splodge of dip dripping down. Later on, I felt bad about losing my cool but, right then, all I could think was, “Damn it, that looked like a really yummy dip”.

But we had a rest and then it was time to go out for Christmas lunch. We went to Sizzler with my family so we didn’t have to worry about cooking. I dressed you up in a pretty little white dress with navy blue trim and you looked so sweet. And that’s when you gave your very first Christmas present to me. You slept all through lunch and I was able to relax and enjoy my meal. So, thank you for the awesome present!

By your next Christmas, you were one year old and life was quite a bit easier. That was the year you had your first Christmas stocking. I can’t remember everything that was in your stocking, except for a maraca and a gingerbread man. For the next few years after that, you always got a gingerbread man at Christmastime. One year I got extra creative and I made you your very own gingerbread ballerina, as you were really into dancing. Her ballet slippers looked more like gumboots, but you absolutely loved it.

We had a favourite story we liked to read on Christmas Eve, “Stick Man” by Julia Donaldson.

“Stick Man lives in the family tree

With his Stick Lady Love

And their stick children three…”

It’s all snowy and Christmassy and has a very happy ending, and hopefully we’ll read it again tonight (if we can find it in your messy bedroom *cough*).

And then there was the case of the broken stocking.

One year we hung your Christmas stocking up really early. Like, it was weeks before Christmas Day. For the first few mornings you would rush out and shove your arm inside the stocking to feel if there was anything in it. One day you woke up from a nap, leapt out of bed and said: “I go check stocking. See if it’s working.” Clearly you thought that I’d given you a broken stocking!

You know certain things about Santa now, but there was one Christmas Eve when you caught me off guard. I was tucking you into bed and you pointed out to me that you’d put a stocking out for your bear, “Teddy”, so he could get something from Santa too.

It was night-time and there was no chance to nip out and get a present or two for your bear. So, once you were asleep, I rummaged around and found an odd sort of collection of presents, semi-suitable for a bear. They included a bell with a koala on it (a souvenir from Tannum Sands that I’d had for years), a teddybear-shaped cookie cutter, a ball, two cocktail umbrellas, and a couple of balloons. I was relieved that both you and Teddy were pretty stoked to find those in his stocking the next morning.

One special memory is when we were driving at night in Biloela, with your Uncle Richard, and we stopped to look at the tree at Lions Park, all lit up with its golden lights. You were wearing a red dress and you just gazed and gazed in awe at the beauty of it all.

I have my own little tradition that on Christmas night, when all the excitement of the day is over, I like to sit down with some Toblerone (got to have Toblerone for Christmas!) and watch the Vicar of Dibley Christmas special. It’s the one where the vicar, Geraldine, gets invited to not just one Christmas dinner, but LOTS of Christmas dinners, and everyone is so excited that she is coming to their place, and she is so kind-hearted that she doesn’t want to disappoint them. So, she ends up going to all the Christmas dinners and ends up very, very full. I tried two or three years ago to share this tradition with you, but you, with your sympathetic heart, felt so sorry for Geraldine having to eat all that food and got so upset that we had to stop watching it. Maybe one year you might feel up to watching again with me, because it really is very funny.  And it’s always great when Geraldine tells jokes to her friend Alice, because Alice really doesn’t get them. Here’s a good one:

Geraldine: Knock, knock.

Alice: Who’s there?

Geraldine: The interrupting sheep.

Alice: The interrupting she…

Geraldine: Baaaaa! You get it?

Alice: No, sorry, ’cause I hadn’t finished my bit. Do it again, and…

Geraldine: No, that’s the joke, you see. The interrupting sheep always interrupts people. See?

Alice: And that’s funny?

Geraldine: Yes. It’s hilarious.

Alice: Oh, well in that case, I know hundreds of hilarious jokes like that.

Geraldine: Do you?

Alice: Yeah, I do. Uh, knock, knock.

Geraldine: Who’s there?

Alice: Uh, the interrupting cow.

Geraldine: The interrupting…

Alice: Mooo.

Anyway, whether you watch the Vicar of Dibley with me or not tomorrow, we’re going to have a wonderful Christmas Day. There will be a stocking for you to open from Mummy Claus (as you call me), and you will put goodies in my stocking too (thank you!). It’s our puppy Harry’s first Christmas with us, so we’ve hung up a stocking for him too with .. hang on, I better not say what’s inside it in case he reads this story. But anyway, he’s going to like it! (One thing rhymes with ennis call.)

We’ll have Christmas pancakes for breakfast, open up the presents under the tree, have a delicious morning tea with your Grandpa and Grandma (Roy and Alison), then there will be roast lamb for lunch, presents to play with, and a day for lots of togetherness.

It’s been a crazy year. I’ve been super busy, you started at a new school, you broke your ankle in three places, and life hasn’t always been easy. But we got through the rough patches, together, and now your Mummy who seems to almost always be saying, “Just a sec, I just need to finish this first”, is going to take a break and spend oodles of time with you over the next few days. So, I’m going to stop tippy tap typing, close my laptop, and get ready for a glorious Christmas with you.

Let’s go make some more memories!

Happy Christmas, darling. I love you.

Mummy x

Sam and Teddy.
Sam’s ‘broken’ Christmas stocking.
Sam gazing in wonder at the Christmas tree at Lions Park in Biloela.
Your first Christmas stocking.
Sam with her Grandma at Christmas.
Gingerbread Ballerina.
The contents of Teddy’s stocking.
Sam decorating a Christmas cake all by herself.
Sam and Jen.
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