It’s that time of year again when we prepare to come together with our families for the celebration of Christmas!

I don’t know about you, but I was hit with the realisation of the festive season fast approaching when I attended a book signing at Dymocks Castle Towers in Sydney recently. It was the first Saturday of December and I was sitting at a small table at the front of the store ready to sign copies of my books. In between signing and chatting to readers and shoppers, I was fascinated to watch the huge amount of foot traffic go by, people loaded up with bags or shopping trolleys filled to the brim with Christmas presents! People rushed past with determined expressions or looks of relief while others wandered the shopping centre looking for inspiration for that perfect gift. I love people watching but as the minutes ticked by, my sense of panic began to rise! Everywhere around me were organised shoppers and I hadn’t even considered who I had to buy for this year, let alone what to get them. I’ve been busily writing away, editing my next novel, ‘the Italian book’ as I’m calling it right now because I don’t yet have the right title for it, and I haven’t even thought of all I have to do for Christmas! It was definitely a reality check and when I got home, I sat down and wrote my ‘to do’ list.

Despite all of the hype at this time of year, what I love most of all is spending time with my family as we continue the family Christmas traditions.  We decorate the Christmas tree and place tinsel and ornaments around the house, so it has that real Christmas feel. Then it’s time for Christmas baking, with the cake and pudding being cooked first and left to develop in flavour, then we’re on to my German grandmother’s delicious biscuits, my mother’s fabulous rum balls, our addition of chocolate apricot balls and lastly the gingerbread. It gives me great pleasure to know that we’re using family recipes and that my children will remember these times when they’re grown up and have their own children and perhaps use them themselves. But of course, the best part is gathering together on Christmas Eve and sharing stories of the year that’s been – and hasn’t it been some year! – and watching the joy on various family members’ faces as they enjoy the carefully prepared food, the company and the thoughtfulness of a special gift. Family is very important to me and I feel very privileged to be able to share my own family stories in my novels.

So at this very special time of year I want to thank all my readers for your support this year – for your lovely messages and comments, for tuning in to my various events associated with Letters from Berlin, for sharing your own family stories with me. I’ve been very touched by your kindness and your generosity.

Wishing you all the very best for the festive season and joy, laughter and much happy reading for the New Year.

May you stay safe, well and connected and here’s to coming together again in 2021 for some more fabulous stories!