My story An Outback Christmas has been included in the 2022 Christmas Tales 7: Short Stories published by Storm Cloud Publishing! I'm so excited to get this story out there as it's based on the true story of a mob of emus who were banned from the Yaraka Pub in outback Queensland for their unruly behaviour! There are 8 other great stories in there to read as well. You can download a copy of the anthology for free from this link to Smashwords
AN OUTBACK CHRISTMAS
A young emu mob who live around here, come for a visit at Christmas each year.
They gather out front and wait at the gate, 'til Jack lifts the latch and says, “Come on in, mates!”
They joggle and jostle, then strut one by one up the worn footpath, and inside they come,
Ruffling their feathers and clacking their beaks, glad to be out of the flies and the heat.
Lizzie, Jack’s wife, quickly fills each a glass. Cool water with ice to quench their thirst fast.
If you’re not careful they’ll slurp your drink too, especially the one that Jack calls Tiny Blue!
Friends who have never had Christmas out here, lean back on their stools to make the way clear.
Hoping the birds will not peck at their food, or poop near their chairs. Now that would be rude!
Lizzie assures them that all will be fine. 'Make no sudden moves. They’ll leave in good time.
They don’t stay for long and really are sweet. All creatures deserve a small Christmas treat!'
The birds near the tree, and Lizzie and Jack open their gifts to reveal a new hat!
One each for Tip, Tiny, Frizzle and Jane, and sewn on the brim, a patch with their names.
It’s special to be here with this feathered four, as we all watch the mob heading back out the door.
We follow them, shouting with much Christmas cheer, 'Hip, hip, hooray, mates! See you next year!'
I count myself and my family among the lucky ones this year. Even though my husband and I couldn't get home to Australia for Christmas, our grown up children were able to be together and spend the time with extended family. Covid is pretty much under control here in Vietnam so we can travel and enjoy getting together with friends. And of course technology meant that we could Skype in and feel part of the celebrations back home. That would not have happened when we were here 26 years ago with our four year old daughter. Back then virtual visits weren't around and a phone call home was USD$6.00 per minute! So we spent the days over Christmas 2020 in Dalat, in the Vietnamese highlands. The weather was cool, the pine forests beautiful and the sightseeing interesting. The area has certainly changed a lot in those 26 years. More 'western' things are readily available now, but tourism has not been as kind to the environment as it could or should be. Let's hope 2021 will be better in so many ways. Here are a few of the highlights - hotel Christmas tree and gardens, Elephant Falls, Crazy House, Cu Lan village and the Cricket Farm. And although the cricket dishes looked yummy, we weren't brave enough to try!