An edgy carol; one I’ve always loved. I’m unsure though about its use with the little ones who still believe in Santa. But this isn’t about the carol. It’s about my all-time favourite celebration!
- It’s the birth of Jesus.
- Pressies from ‘Santa’, money from the aunts and uncles!
- The sweets – marzipan, shell cream, coconut sweet, guava cheese, date rolls.
- The food – roast chickens, mash, sorpotel (my nana’s was the best), vindaloo – get me a tissue to wipe my drooling mouth!!!
- The vibe – of all the places I’ve lived in, Mumbai and Goa have given me the best Christmas memories. Lots of lights, Carols playing loudly, sweets being exchanged with family and neighbours, the beautiful custom-made dresses and the dances, oh the dances!
But those are memories from the first 33 years of my life.
Australia has created new and different ones.
Is it Christmas yet?
The city (CBD) is a lovely place to visit during the Christmas period. It buzzes with locals and tourists. The city square has a wonderful Christmas tree and the main streets are lit up.
It’s pretty quiet in the suburbs and apart from a few lit houses, you wouldn’t even know it’s Christmas.
My neighbour who otherwise acts like she doesn’t know me, actually stopped her car in the driveway to say ‘Merry Christmas’ this year. I guess Christmas makes everyone happy.
Christmas in summer
People outside of Australia find it funny that we have a summer Christmas. I think it’s awesome! You can wear what you want without having to wear a coat or sweater – or like my friend Su says, ‘Ugly Christmas sweaters’.
In fact, folks take the summer bit pretty seriously with them wearing shorts, tees and thongs to Christmas mass!! Yea, not sure if I’ll get used to that, I still like to dress up for the biggest Catholic celebration of the year. I’ll admit though that these folks are also the ones who you never see in church the rest of the year.
Christmas takes on a different meaning
All my chats with Australian friends and colleagues about their Christmas plans have never included ‘church’ or ‘mass’. They celebrate Christmas but it has no religious significance. And I should stop being surprised after 4 years in Australia. A census study in Australia 2016 showed that people who claim ‘no religion’ over took the Catholics – for the first time in history!
Christmas here is largely about:
Food: Lunches and dinners with friends begin a week before Christmas with family gatherings on the day. There’s lots to drink, a ham, a pavlova and seafood.
Gifts: The gift-giving is an eyebrow-raiser! People splurge on gifts for everyone they know. In 2017, Australians collectively racked up $29 billion in credit card debt at Christmas. And most people will still be in Christmas debt, during Easter the following year. And we’re talking about expensive gifts, coffee machines, iPads etc.
Offices host Christmas parties for staff – an evening of drinks and snacks in fancy places. I must prepare you to answer the most common question at these parties, ‘What do you have planned for Christmas?’ And be ready to get a detailed itinerary about the entire Christmas week.
Nodding and smiling are two good things to do during this conversation because I don’t think anyone really listens (or cares LOL). These parties usually end with a mandatory office shut down for the next two weeks – whether you wanted to take time off or not.
When you get back, don’t rush into work, you’ll notice the ‘No worries’ lifestyle kicks in and folks need time to ease into it. The first day is normally spent asking each other what they did over Christmas – SEE, I told you no one really listens – R-E-P-E-A-T.
We’ve been lucky to spend all four Christmases with family in Australia – and this year I’d like to say a special thank you to the Hines who opened their door and hearts and welcomed us. Christmas day was exactly how I remember it when I was growing up – with lots of food, drinks and a party that starts at lunch and ends after dinner!
Hope you all had a good Christmas and took some time off to re-focus, re-purpose and refresh your minds for the new year.