The battle lines were drawn as adults and children alike assembled our own artillery. Our meagre cache of water pistols proved no defence against the relentless barrage coming from the new water canyon next door. Buckets proved a better defence and soon our tall gates were closed to barricade us within the front yard. The children from next door outnumbered us three to one and yet we soldiered on determined to repel their advance on our fortress at number 13. Our two children and their two cousins were delighted to have the assistance of their parents. For more than 30 minutes we perfected our battle strategy, forming a human chain to pass buckets of water up the driveway with military precision.
Next door, Ruth and Bill’s grandchildren had also armed themselves with buckets. This, combined with the new water canyon should have guaranteed their side victory. Yet the battle raged on.
One by one our side had taken turns to man the front line only to become drenched. Down the line, the next person would insist on taking their turn at the gate. Time and time again we switched positions. A strategy that was then adopted by the enemy. Delighted children taking their turn at the tap, replaced by a cousin, sister or brother taking turns to climb our front gates and deliver their load to the unsuspecting combatant on the other side.
Suddenly everything fell silent. On our side of the fence, we held our collective breath. “Get yourselves inside now. You are saturated!” said Ruth, pointing out the obvious. “You’ll put on your pyjamas and play quietly in the back room until lunch is ready.”
With one firmly spoken command, Ruth had ruled a line in the sand. Clearly, this was not
acceptable behaviour on Christmas Day.
Sheepishly, we retreated to the relative cool of the lounge room. The children, deliciously cool, were now ravenous. Leftovers from our Christmas Eve feast sated their hunger.
Leaving them drowsy and content. Laughter filled the room as we all exclaimed at Ruth’s
wrath. We pictured the grandchildren now clad in pyjamas sitting around the table for the
family's Christmas Lunch, the image causing us to double over laughing.
Our memory of that hot Christmas Day, more than 25 years ago lives on in our memories.
Every gathering marks another occasion to relive the frivolity of that hot Christmas Day.
The years may have dimmed the accuracy of the detail, but not the unbridled fun of our battle.