Here in the far, far south, as far away as those Brits could manage to create a penal colony… it’s mid-summer, not winter (although sometimes lately you wouldn’t know it, crazy weather).
For years, grown up Aussies have been trying to explain to kiddies why we have snow on Christmas cards, and why Santa doesn’t get hot wearing that thick coat when he delivers presents down here.
I’ve often craved a wintery Christmas experience (which might sound crazy to those of you who live in it). In fact, I still plan to bugger off to Austria or Canada one year, ride in a horse drawn sleigh, drink egg-nog, actually have to wrap up warmly, go skiing, and enjoy that hefty wintery roast dinner.
My family’s Christmas traditions for years did include the roast dinner and all the trimmings – try eating that in the heat! But in the last half a dozen years we wised up. Now its all seafood smorgasbord – baked fish, salmon, crab, mussels, oysters (eeeww to the former two), prawns, scallops – and on it goes. Fresh Australian seafood. Mmmmm…
Childhood Christmas memories are of stinking hot days tearing around in a swimsuit and jumping in the backyard pool my dad built. Splashing about, possibly with our new inflatable pool presents or diving rings or the like… or riding our new bikes out front… some years driving from one end of town to the other, squished in the back of the car, fighting amongst ourselves, probably in uncomfortable heat… visiting one set of grandparents for lunch and one for the evening meal (leaving us very full).
For several years we had a ‘neighbourhood Santa’ – a guy sitting on the back of a station wagon dressed in a red suit, throwing lollies to the kids on Christmas Eve. Never found out who he was. Try ‘n’ get away with that these days!
All the fathers in the street would give a case of beer to the garbos [Aussie slang for garbage collectors] in the week leading up to Christmas. There was a definite sense of community… less about commercialism, more about people having a good time.
It was never (fortunately for me), a particularly religious time. Which is just as well given I seem to have been a born pagan/heathen. My family were basically without religion or any kind of spirituality.
By far, the most prominent childish Christmas memory is my excitement about the magic of it all. Before I didn’t, I really and truly believed in Santa. I was a child of faeries and mysteries. It seemed quite reasonable that a fat guy in a red suit could pull off the great present delivery once a year.
So, it was always hard to go to sleep. Then I’d wake up like clockwork before dawn, creeping out of the room my sister and I shared… to the lounge room where, to my delight, were three over-sized Christmas themed pillow-cases hung over the back of dining room chairs and packed full of presents!!
As middle child, my sack was in the center. I’d carefully, quietly unpack each new toy one at a time. Checking to see if Santa had read my letter and given me what I desired. After re-packing everything in reverse, if I hadn’t been ordered back to bed yet, I’d then systematically check my sister’s then my brother’s sacks too!
I never ever swapped anything, but I’d wake my sister up when I’d finished my investigations to tell her Santa had been, trying to drag her out of bed to see for herself. If she didn’t come, I’d start telling her what Santa had brought her! 😉
My parents always heard me at some point – get back to bed now – they knew I’d be up, like the ghost of Christmas present, haunting the goodies til it was ‘official’ get out of bed time.
That waking up early thing on Christmas day, it lasted a long time. Twas my late teens actually, before I was able to kick that unconscious habit.
Wishing you all a wonderful day, however you celebrate…
P.S. For a very different and very beautiful take on an Aussie Christmas… read AnthroYogini’s Deep Desert Christmas!