This weekend Marieke Hardy will be holding a Women of Letters, event in the City of Literature that is Melbourne. It’s a kind of lunch where writers will read their letters to the Best Present they Ever Received to get into the spirit of the season and also to raise funds for the animal rescue shelter, Edgar’s Mission. Good guests, a fun lunch for a good cause plus some creative writing. So I thought I would join the cause and add my letter.
Dear Best Christmas Present Ever Received.
You were glorious. You stood almost as tall as me and much wider. You were three storeys high and finished in meticulous detail. You are the second present I remember and sadly, now, only exist in my memory. You are my doll’s house and I was ecstatic.
Why are you the best present ever? You were completely unexpected. It’s also partly due to the fact you were hand-made from cardboard and bits and bobs and lovingly put together by my mother, in secret, late each night, for months leading up to Christmas. The effort she put in! The determination to give her daughter something so special. Another reason is that it’s a gift that kept giving. I mean through the stories it generated. There was me declaring to the family this is THE best present ever, retold so often. And there are the stories my mother told me much later, of the creation of the doll’s house. Of course creation stories always seem so powerful and why not? It was a story of sacrifice and patience, of panic and quickly-hiding-things-when-I-got-up-late-at-night, which was well-rewarded. And this story was as much evidence of my mother’s love as her creation. And I loved the story. Even when the doll’s house fell into its inevitable decay through much use, and I could see the match boxes beneath the material that formed the carpeted staircase to the two second floor bedrooms, I still cherished the story. And also learned (again) how all things must pass away, yet something remains. A memory. A story. So the real gift my mother gave me was a story – transformed into a love of story telling and that became an interest in myth and folklore and the discovery of a need to tell stories. What she gave me, my talented, creative mother, was life and by way of a doll’s house, something to live it for. And what better Christmas present is that?