25th December in Australia – a Christmas Day like no other (for us at least!). First thing was a bit like normal – presents under our tacky tree, but only for the girls. Gloria and Michael had carried a suitcase over from England, which was full of Charlotte and Emily’s presents from them and our friends. Imagine our horror at seeing the size of it (too big to be a carry on bag…), and then when the presents were piled on the dining table around the tree, we couldn’t help but think about the size of them compared to the size of our rucksacks! Of course, everybody had thought of that too, so when the girls unwrapped them with glee, we found lots of packaging around presents which will either pack up small, or aren’t designed to last beyond the 9 days that we are here! That was about the only thing that was slightly traditional – the rest was very different. For a start the weather was warm and sunny, with a clear blue sky. After a BBQ’d breakfast of bacon and sausages, we went down to the pool for a swim, and then wandered out to the beach.
We have done this before – 10 years ago we were in Australia for Christmas during our last trip backpacking around the world – but it still seems very, very odd to be standing on the sand, in shorts and t-shirts, while thinking about Christmas. It makes it so unreal that its difficult to think about the traditional images of Christmas – snowmen, carol singers, a roaring fire. In fact, by the time we’d walked to the beach and taken the photo with our hats on, we were very, very hot underneath them. So we didn’t spend all day in them!
Finally, in the middle of the afternoon, we had Christmas Lunch. Michael and I slaved away over a hard barbeque, for at least 20 minutes, to cook the fillet steaks, while Gloria and Sarah were tied to the kitchen preparing a salad. So instead of the traditional 7 hours of cooking turkey (starting at 5 o’clock in the morning) with all the trimmings, we were sitting down to eat half an hour after we’d started preparing our meal! After such a hearty meal, we had to leave the Christmas Pudding until after we’d had another swim in the pool, and then we settled down to watch a little bit of TV, with various family members settling for a nap!
With no stress, and little fuss, it seems as if there are some really positive side effects of a non-traditional Christmas.