Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church (Sydney, Australia)

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 50 - December 2012 / January 2013 > A Rich Christmas Pudding (by Pr George Porter)

A Rich Christmas Pudding

by Pr George Porter

A Rich Christmas Pudding

We were a very poor family when we lived under the McPherson ranges.  Dad had just returned from the Pacific theatre of the Second World War.  He was virtually penniless. A large portion of the Government Gratuity money, Dad had been given, had been spent to pay our transfer from the city of Melbourne to the Tweed River district. A large portion of it was used for buying tools and implements for farming and establishing the banana plantation.  We survived by growing our own fruit and vegetables.  Eggs came from our own fowls and milk from our cow. Mum used the Government Child endowment which was paid monthly, to keep us all in good clothes.  She always had us impeccably dressed. 

In spite of our crippling poverty, our parents always tried their best to make Christmas a special family day.  Preparation for Christmas was always a family effort.  We boys would cut down a suitable tree to place in the lounge. All the presents and gifts sent from our mother's brother in Ipswich Queensland and Dad's mother and sister in Melbourne were stacked around the tree.

Early each December after school closed for the year, our parents would muster up some coins and bus us to town to see the Christmas decorations.  We did enjoy meeting the "real" Father Christmas.  Almost every shop had a real live "Santa Claus" or a picture of one somewhere. The main street had coloured streamers strung up all along it.   They stretched across above our heads from shop to shop on either side of the street.  The sound of music was everywhere.  Christmas carols bleared from radios in shops, arcades and walkways and even from roof tops. Gramophones' were blaring out joyfully sounding Christmas songs as well, making quite a festive atmosphere.  Gramophones were a machine on which you placed a flat disk with pre-recorded music cut into the disk.  A sound arm with a needle on the end of it was placed on the disk. The machine when switched on would spin the disk. The needle would pick up the pre-recorded sound carrying it to a large radio type speaker delivering the songs to the crowd's ears. 

The large shop "Penny's," always had a huge Christmas tree beautifully decorated with lights, sparkles, stars and coloured streamers.  "Penney's" would be what we call a "Two Dollar" shop today.  Always seated next to the tree was a real "Santa" in his bright red and white Christmas clothes. Beside him was a big box. Next to the box was a bundle of paper, envelopes and a pen.  We were so excited as we wrote our gift request to "Santa" on the paper supplied.   Then we placed it in the envelope provided and sealed it tightly.   We really believed Santa would deliver our requests.    We always asked for "Dinky" toy trucks and buses.  They were miniature models of many English motor vehicles.   After that we would go into the newsagents where they were all sold in the toy section.  Just hoping Santa knew where to get them! Before catching the bus for home mother always made sure she had plenty of dried fruit and flour to make the rich Christmas pudding.

We always knew when Christmas Eve had arrived.   Dad would bring out a clear glass bottle with quite a few little silver coins that we used for money in those days.  They were called "threepences" and "sixpences."  They were tiny and very thin.   Today's equivalent would be 2 cents and five cents, Dad had saved these coins for a few weeks just to make our Christmas pudding rich and special.  He would put the coins in a large empty fruit tin and cover them with water and place them on the hot stove to boil the coins clean.  "The purpose really was to kill all the germs which they carried on them," said our father.

The night before Christmas we children were so excited we could hardly sleep.  We just wanted to know what our Uncles and Aunties and Grandmothers had sent us for Christmas. They usually sent us new clothes a few toys and especially "Meccano" building sets.  It was a precious family time and a joyous occasion. Mother always reminded us that our best Gift was Jesus our Saviour, who had been gifted to us all by God our Father.

Early every Christmas morning Mother would call out to me, "George my boy, take Robert and catch the big fat rooster and chop his head off.  We must pluck and cook him for Christmas dinner."  Oh no, I thought.  I do not relish this job.  Reluctantly we obeyed.  I really loved my big roosters. I believe "Big Red" the rooster knew it was Christmas and he knew what happened to fat roosters. He sensed his destination.  So he took off when we approached and it took a lot of running and jumping from both my brother and I, before we eventually caught him.  Poor rooster, he was shaking with fear.  With one hand holding him by both legs and his head on the chopping block, he was soon on the way to the Christmas table after being baked.

Next most important task was the making of the pudding. Mother would assemble all the ingredients for the Christmas pudding on the table. After mixing and stirring, the pudding was finally placed into the baking tin and deposited in the oven.  We children would watch closely.  So closely in fact that Mum was always asking us to move back while she worked.

Next it was Dad's turn to help.  The baked pudding was placed on the table to cool. When it was cool enough Dad would take his clean silver coins and insert them deep into the pudding. It was then placed on a huge plate and dried cherries were placed around it. On the top was placed a twig of holly.  With the pumpkin, potatoes and rooster backed it was time to serve Christmas dinner with vegies added.  What a wonderful time we had eating our once a year "Rich" feast.  The last food to be eaten was the pudding.  Dad would cut it up and try and make sure everybody had a piece of "rich" pudding.  All had to get a silver coin.  It was the "custom".   It was such fun.  When we were very young it was the closest we came to riches.   With the pudding desert eaten it was time to count coins to see who found the most.  With our few silver coins displayed on each empty plate, Dad would make an announcement.   "Sorry we have precious little money to start the New Year so please hand back all the coins because we will need every one them to buy necessities."

We understood.  We had had a happy fun Christmas. Our tummies were full.  God had given us a good meal.  He had also reminded us that He had gifted His Son Jesus just to save us all from our sins.  As Mum said, "Poor and happy is always better than rich, famous and sad."

This article is Copyright © 2012 by George C Porter.  Used by permission.

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