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Tuesday 20 December 2022

Guest Post: Penny Macoun on The Poetry of Christmas

Christmas is my favourite time of year. I have always found it to be special, not because of the religious aspect of the day, but because of the magic and closeness to loved ones it creates.

I wanted to write a Christmas story but wasn’t sure if I could create something new. I was worried that all the good story ideas had already been written. The Night Before Christmas has always been magical for me and I can still recite it off by heart. 

I am not a natural poet; however, I have dabbled with this style now and then, and by using The Night Before Christmas as inspiration I had a go at writing a Christmas poem. 

I wasn’t sure that I would publish it, but it turned out better than I expected so I decided to publish it as The Christmas Door.

Growing up I always loved the discovery of what was inside a present. I never asked for an actual present, always asking simply for surprises. I wanted to write a story about Christmas, capturing the magic that every child loves, while also exploring the idea that Christmas is not only about physical gifts but that a simple gesture can be a gift to others, such as a hug that can be given at any time of the year.

The Christmas Door is about a little girl who finds an old oak door in her living room. Her Father tries to open it and finds he can’t. She opens it easily and is blinded by the glorious rays of light before reindeer bound into the living room and out through the back door onto the lawn. Santa follows the reindeer and enjoys a glass of warm milk and mince pie before he continues the journey of present delivery.

While I had the fun bit sorted, it took a long time to get the rhythm and rhyme right and I did have help from a friend who writes poetry; she was amazing and taught me a lot. I wanted to write about the magic of Christmas, which inspired the door in the floor idea. The next step was to work out what was through the door, and as it was a Christmas poem, the logical idea was Santa and his reindeer.

It was easy for me to choose an illustrator for The Christmas Door. Paul Nash illustrated my previous book, Rollo’s Wet Surprise. I loved his style, and we worked well together. Paul not only illustrates my books, he also does the page layouts and supplies the print ready files, so it’s a complete package. He beautifully captured the amazement and magic of this poem, although there is one page that is my absolute favourite. It’s the page where the girl first opens the door, and the glorious rays surround her, and she is looking down through the door in amazement. I wonder what she is seeing? Perhaps some of the reindeer are looking back at her? 

For me, Christmas is about being with loved ones, sharing good food, jokes and laughter. It is also a time when I reflect on the past year and make plans for the following. I love decorating the Christmas tree - it’s a little bit of magic I can create at home. Every Christmas I hope children around the world have enough to eat and are with people who love them. No matter where they live or what their circumstances are, every child is unique, every child deserves to be healthy and every child deserves to be happy. This is my Christmas wish.

Even though I am now an adult, I still love the magic and joy Christmas brings. Writing The Christmas Door is my way of sharing my Christmas magic, because you never know what magic will lie beyond a door.

Penny Macoun was born in Sydney, Australia. She has been writing since 1993 when her story about a funnel web spider was printed in a school newsletter. She is an author, editor, book reviewer and trained primary school teacher. After teaching in public schools for eight years, Penny decided to pursue her passion for writing and fulfill her dream of becoming a published author.

The Christmas Door (2022) is her third book. Gorkle (2020) and Rollo’s Wet Surprise (2021) are her previous books for children. When she is not writing, teaching or editing, Penny dabbles in various forms of visual arts and enjoys travelling, completing short courses, and being out in the garden.

Visit Penny at: www.pennymacoun.com.au or via her Facebook or Instagram.