A glorious sun rose on Christmas-day, and the moments were melting ones. The weather had been very wet through June, July and August; September, October, and November had been almost perfect. The bright beautiful green clothing the valleys and hills, the bracing clear atmosphere, just warm enough, but not too warm, the summer evenings, the moonlight nights – all had been nearly perfect; but now hot weather was setting in, and had been for the last fortnight, with the likelihood of continuing for the next three months. [...]
The boys dressed themselves in their holiday suits, after having attended to the business of the morning, and sister Jane’s various little errands; and, the great pudding being ready, and the goose, and the beef, and Mr. Ramsey, they sat down, a merry happy family, to the table.
“Where is your young bear,” said Harry, very mischievously to Edward, “that Mr. Ramsey was to taste when stewed?”.
“It’s where sister Jane’s pudding is,” said the boy, “not on the table.”
Jane sat down on a Christmas-day in a thin white muslin dress and pink ribbons, with the doors and windows open to allow what little air there was to blow through.
Jane was one of those who have the knack of doing everything without seeming to do it. True, she had cooked the dinner with her own little hands; but with the speed of lightening, while it was waiting for five minutes on the table, she had arranged her toilet and looked quite nice in her summer attire. And then whilst the boys removed goosy and beef, she slipped away and with Edward’s help, assisted the pudding so cleverly out of its hot bath, that she was back again before any once missed her (except Mr. Ramsey). Two of her brothers, with a great deal of ceremony and fuss, placed the huge mass of currants, raisins, suet, eggs, flour, brandy, sugar, and lemon-peel on the table, and declared that was an Australian Christmas plum-pudding, and that three cheers were to be given to sister Jane for making it, with another three for their buying it; but that the stewed bear was nowhere to be found, and they feared must have been eaten by the cat.
Jane said, as the rooms were so small, she would prefer the cheers to be reserved for out of doors after dinner. The pudding was investigated and thoroughly approved, and Edward asked Mr. Ramsay, in a very loud whisper, whether he didn’t wish he had the chance of having a sister to make such a pudding as that. [...]
After the merry Christmas dinner, the Seymours betook themselves to the shade of some noble gum-trees, the day being far too hot to admit of any pleasure in walking.
“Janey,” said Harry, “here am I spoiling my handsome pocket-handkerchief by the attention I have to pay to my hot face in these melting moments; and there are my cousins in England dreaming away their night in fancying the snowballs, and skating, and sliding on Christmas-day; but for all that, I don’t envy them, only I cannot understand it.”
“Nor I should think could any one else,” said little Edward. “Why, our noses are red with heat instead of cold, and I was too hot to eat half the pudding I wanted to.”
“Perhaps,” said Mr. Ramsay, “it was owing to the knowledge of your voracity that your sister had to make so large a pudding; and I think she ought to pray for the hot winds to come generally, and then there would be less demand upon her time and attention in the feeding department.”
Towards evening a cool breeze sprung up, and in half an hour Jane was glad to and change her light robes for a much less sylvan-looking one, and the boys buttoned up their coats, and Daddy put on an extra one.
In the cooler districts, the change in the weather generally comes on very suddenly, often there is the difference of a blanket in the course of an hour. As a rule, the change in the weather, sudden as it is, does not seem to affect the health and the cold nights prepare for enduring the warmth of the next day.
Jane proposed that as Christmas-day had passed without their being able to attend any divine service, that they should sing some of their favourite Christmas hymns. And, having good voices, they sounded very sweetly, and bore away the last echo on the evening breeze. Having ended the day as usual with family devotions, the family retired happily and peacefully to rest in their Australian home.
Taken from Life’s Work as It is, Or, The Emigrant’s Home in Australia, written by A Colonist, and published in 1867. It tells the story of an emigrant family who settle in Willunga, in what is now the famous winery valley of McLaren Vale, south of Adelaide in South Australia.
Katie Barclay is today enjoying her first South Australian Christmas in 30+ degree heat with a BBQ and pool party. She wishes everyone a Merry Christmas.