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Monday, December 28, 2009

A Sizzling Christmas Down Under


It was just lovely to see your Christmas photos on the blog, Ange of the North. It brought back fond memories of our Christmas up there in the Big White North! I must say, that I think the ‘romance’ of Christmas does lend itself to the climate of the Northern Hemisphere….the fact that it is cold outside (sometimes with snow!), the warmth inside, the fact that you can legitimately have a fire burning, the earlier evenings, the candles and lights, real Christmas trees (or very good alternatives!), the hot roast dinners…the real deal! So nice!


Whilst Down Under, provision has to be made for long summer days and hot weather - our Santas sweat under their obligatory regalia (explains why most of them tend to be found in sedentary positions on huge chairs, in airconditioned malls!); roast dinners can only be had if there is an outside BBQ or good airconditioning inside; fires are prohibited; water (ice cubes, pools, beaches, chilled drinking stuff etc) is a necessity; “Trees of Lies” abound; and chocolate must be kept cool. A large percentage of people flock to the beaches or parks for picnics. Perhaps more than any other time of the year, the Christmas season highlights for me the huge differences between the two Hemispheres! I’ve often wondered why we persist with having snow-laden landscape Christmas cards, when nothing could be further from the truth Down Under! Having said that, cards with surfing Santas or Santa having a BBQ on the beach, just don’t seem right!


I love Christmas – the reason, the season, and all that it brings.


This year, being in a country without immediate family at hand, we were grateful for people who have thoughtfully included us in their Christmas celebrations. I love the inclusivity of the season, though more than ever, we felt keenly for friends who have to face Christmas without a loved one, for friends who are estranged from families, or for people for whom this is a difficult and lonely time of the year. Without wanting to minimise their pain, it did make us especially grateful for being in a position to enjoy the festivities this year.


I loved the (hitherto unheard of) experience of my husband going shopping on the Eve of Christmas Eve (ie. the day before CE) till midnight! This was history in the making!!! What’s more, he enjoyed getting the bargains so much, he even braved the mall TWICE to pick up something we’d missed. I wonder how long this shopping phenomena will continue…


I loved the fact that we spent Christmas Eve as a family, doing special things to prepare for Christmas Day. It brought a lump to my throat, to see my boys generously adding up their savings to spend on purchasing ducks and goats and seeds and fish farms and dunnies (latrines for the non-Southerners) at the World Vision booth. I loved going out for morning tea together as a family amidst the buzz of the shoppers, and I loved choosing our “Jesus Candle” for the year. [Our family has a tradition of having a “Jesus Candle” every Christmas to remind us about “Jesus- the Light of the World” This began in the Great White North in actual fact. It was lil L’s first visit to see Santa. As he sat on Santa’s knee, Santa asked him the usual “What would you like me to bring you for Christmas?” question. Wee L looked at him quite surprised (we’d omitted to tell him that Santas were the deliverers of presents!). Santa looked even more surprised and somewhat shocked when after much pressing of the same question, lil L came up with the same answer – “I don’t want anything!”. “Wouldn’t you like some new toys or books or a lollipop?”, asked Santa incredulously. After several repetitions of “No….” from lil L, Santa persisted, “Well, is there ANYTHING at all that you think you might like???!” Lil L thought even harder, and then replied hesitantly, “A pink candle…” So that Christmas, lil L got a pink candle in his Christmas stocking….and at Christmas dinner, he wanted to have his ‘Jesus Candle’ on the table. And thereon in, began our Jesus Candle tradition.]


I loved our family being able to visit each of our neighbours and bringing them chocolate truffles. I loved the little message E made for each of them.


I loved going to the Christmas Eve service with our friends, and sweltering in the heat, and singing carols with gusto, and enjoying the lights and the atmosphere, and hearing that familiar story of the first Christmas all over again.


I loved sharing Christmas dinner (#1) afterwards with good friends – a wonderful precursor to Christmas Day!


I loved the excitement as the boys headed for bed, knowing that they would be awake only a few hours later to scrabble through their stockings to see what goodies lay therein.


I loved seeing my husband fill the kids’ stockings though he hasn’t quite perfected the ‘look’ yet – no white bushy beard or red suit and only a little paunch! And definitely NO CHIMNEYS in this part of the world to shimmy down!


I loved seeing my husband check under the tree to see if there was a parcel with his name on it! Big kid! Quote: “It’s not much point having presents under the tree if you can’t poke ‘em!”


I even loved the continuous run of 1-2am nights/mornings - though each year, I think it would be nice to be more organised and be earlier to bed.


And I love Christmas Day itself…..


I loved the early morning wake up and the uncontrollable excitement of my kids.


I loved the Christmas service first thing in the morning, and the reminder to focus on the greatest gift of all – the gift of a baby, the Son of the God of the Universe. A gift given to us to bring love and joy and peace and hope of a better life today and beyond.


I love Skype and phones and email and texts and newsy mail, and the ability we have to connect with family & friends who cannot be with us, or who are separated from us in distance but not in spirit.


I love the buzz of opening presents and all that goes with it!


I loved being able to have Christmas Dinner #2 at lunchtime, with good friends. I loved eating. (Hard to believe I know! :) ) I loved seeing the kids enjoying themselves in the pool. I loved chatting and relaxing with our ‘surrogate family’. I loved hearing the fun & laughter as Balderdash was played.


I loved the opportunity to go to Christmas Dinner #3 at dinnertime with relatives, and sitting outside in the balmy summer’s night. More good food! Ohhhhh! Ham, turkey, lamb, Bombe Alaska to die for!


And I LOVED sleeping in the next morning till a disgraceful hour and relishing the memory of another wonderful Christmas!

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