December 18, 2012

Christmas Interview with Author/Illustrator Christina Booth

It's a delight to welcome popular children's author and illustrator Christina Booth to Books for Little Hands.

How did you celebrate Christmas as a child? 

I grew up across the road from the beach and I spent summer in my bathers and thongs. Christmas started for us when the tree went up, usually on Christmas eve. Then we would get all dressed up and go to a midnight service and sing carols. My brother and I would be out of bed well before our parents and poke around the tree. My Dad would go and collect my Grandad from the nursing home and then we would have a yummy lunch (not a traditional one as my Mum is Dutch) and then we would spend the afternoon opening presents and playing with our new treasures. No presents were opened until after lunch! Sometimes the kids from the area would all meet up in the afternoon at the beach and share our bounties and go swimming. One year we took the boat out and went fishing or in the evenings (it didn't get dark until after 9 pm) we would go for a family walk with friends and watch the kangaroos and wombats in the bush.

Do you have a family Christmas tradition? 

A newer tradition we love is that our family gets up for a Christmas breakfast. Because my husband works at a hospital he often has to work on Christmas day so this is a tradition we began so we could have a Christmas meal together before the day was over. We all sit around in our pyjama's and have a yummy leisurely breakfast together, a rarity in our house as we are all coming and going at different times and during the year my son lives away for uni. 

We hang our stockings on our chairs and set the table ready the night before after we get beck from church. Some of us get up early to prepare the food. Last year a Nerf gun war occurred to get the sleepy heads out of bed! We all buy a small gift for the other members of the family, something that is special to them, and put them in the stockings. Over breakfast we open our stocking gifts as often we don't get back together as a family until the evening. We choose to wait to open our tree gifts until 'Dad' gets home so he doesn't miss out on the fun. Our breakfast has become one of the most anticipated parts of our Christmas day.

Have you celebrated Christmas in another country?

 Yes, twice. Once as a teenager and a few years ago when we took the children to Europe to celebrate my Opa's 90th birthday. We also travelled to London for a few days and loved the winter Christmas atmosphere, putting those traditional Christmas cards in perspective.

We celebrated in Holland. A very different experience from Australia. They have first Christmas and second Christmas. First Christmas is spent with immediate family and any other family you can gather with. Food is an important part of the day and the whole day is spent preparing it. Small gifts are exchanged in the evenings (well, they were in our family) once everyone had arrived. The gifts were tokens, things you needed, not the huge expensive items that seem to have swallowed our culture. 

Second Christmas, our boxing day, is spent doing it all over again. Lots of food preparation and a huge meal spent with the family you didn't see on Christmas  number one and friends.
Everyone goes back to work as normal and even back to school after that. Then they prepare for the next big celebration with yummy traditional foods, New Years Eve!

What will you be reading over Christmas? 

My plan is to squeeze in some of the books on my to read pile that is steadily growing taller. I have to work over the holiday season illustrating two books but hey, I love it. Some of the books on my pile (certain to be added to after Christmas gifts are given) is the Roald Dahl Biography, The Book Thief (to be re-read for book club), Piano Lessons (Anna Goldsworthy), The Perks of Being a Wall Flower (recommended by my son), Twenty Years A-Growing (Maurice O'Sullivan) and Shade's Children (Garth Nix). My Husband recently purchased some weird comic books I am expected to read as well, Dr. Who meets Star Trek! Supposedly they are really good....

Happy Reading and Happy Christmas everyone!

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