Since we have had Maree here I thought I might tell you about Christmas time ‘down under’ (I was brought up in the North Island of NZ and moved to Queensland in Oz in my early 30’s) I have been in England 7 years, just long enough to put up with the cold weather, well, at least until the festive decorations come down!
Now, if you were to drill straight down through the earth from here in Herts, you would probably come out in Dunedin or Christchurch in New Zealand, and while it would be exactly half way around the world, summer time, and12 hours further into the day, you wouldn’t be standing upside down. Isn’t it amazing how wonderful gravity is and how the whole universe works.
So, yes, it is summer time over there now. The school year is coming to a close with exams, parent interviews, end of year reports, school plays, and all the hustle and bustle of planning summer holidays, christmas presents and everything all at once. Schools finish mid December and the next school year begins early February.
One of the first holiday jobs was to go off with Dad into the countryside to find a tree branch that could become a Christmas tree. The lovely fir trees you have for Christmas trees here do not grow in those warmer climates. All we got were plain, often scraggy, pine trees, but we knew no better because everyone had similar, if they didn’t have a fake ‘shop’ one. The pine smell was nice though and the tall branch was secured in an old bucket and decorated. We had no concept of a white Christmas, we had never ever even seen or touched snow!
Naturally the Christmas presents we liked were bikes and outdoor stuff for the summer holidays, fun things to do in the swimming pool or at the beach, kites, model planes that you made and went out and used, remote control stuff that you took out onto the front lawn and driveway, or down onto the sand at the beach. Of course books, movies and computer games are really popular, too, and because school is out for 6 whole weeks presents can be fully enjoyed all of the holidays
We didn’t stand on ceremony on Christmas day. It went like this… wake up, open a present left by your pillow, usually a book. (left to keep you entertained while Mum and Dad got to stay asleep until at least 6am) Then, all up and off to the Christmas tree to open the presents with breakfast somewhere in amongst that. It’s likely grandparents had stayed the night to allow them to join the fun, but if not then we all had to wait around for them to front up before we started. It was far better when they stayed over.
After breakfast, depending on your point of view it was off to church or the beach. If the latter it was a good opportunity to try out some of the new pressies and have some fun in the warm water. Often anyone coming for Christmas lunch might come along, too.
In Queensland preparations for lunch were minimal; everyone brought something. We usually had cold meat, and interesting salads laid out on the breakfast bar and we helped ourselves, most often still in our swimwear, and ate it out under the pergola. The weather was too hot for much else. However, sometimes we’d make a fuss, dress up summery, use our nice table and sit down properly under the ceiling fan. Although we liked to have Christmas pudding and icecream we usually felt stuffed full afterwards!
The kids would then be ready for a fun swim in the backyard pool, the adults happy to chat, or do the jigsaw puzzle. Some sort of outdoors game often happened later in the afternoon; we had a badminton net up. The evening meal would be a bbq, the kids having great fun in and out of the water ‘til late.
A fab Christmas followed by summer holidays, often camping at the beach if you weren’t already there. A fitting way to finish the year!
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