Memories of being a child on the farm in Western Australia. Waking up very early Christmas morning to find Santa had been and inevitably left a book, among other things - my mother's way of making darn sure she didn't get disturbed too early by a kid wanting to open presents. Christmas inextricably mixed up with the dry dusty smells of summer, the somnolent sound of cicadas, the beginning of the long summer holiday, the knowledge that we'd soon leave for two weeks living in a caravan at the beach.
The presents - books, books, books - those are what I liked best and what I remember most. Oh, and the mysterious parcels that arrived from an aunt working for the UN in Japan, then Korea, and finally New York. I still remember the exquisiteness of a Korean doll and the Japanese laquer work jewellery book...they were a peep at a world far away that I knew nothing about.
My first white Christmas. Vienna. Going to the Kriskindelmarkt, all the lights sparkling, feet scrunching over the snow in the bitter cold, warming my hands on a packet of hot chestnuts. The kids building their first snowman in the back yard and making angels in the snow...
And then there was yesterday. Knocked flat with a very painful infection, and ending up having to send an SOS to my very lovely sister-in-law to come and take me to the hospital emergency room. AARGH.