It says a lot about my love for all things Christmas when even a day on a tropical island, trip to Brisbane or day diving the reef can’t quell my homesickness. I love Christmas so much that I believed in good old Santa Claus until year 5 of school, and then it was only because we had an assembly about how St Nicholas had inspired stories of santa. Imagine – an assembly at a primary school about how Father Christmas isn’t real. Sure, I was nearly 10 and year off getting my first bra, but that’s how much i wanted to believe in the magic.
Yes, I don’t miss a lot (ok, the majority) of things about this time of year. The fact it’s getting dark at 4pm, the way the inside of the bus work work gets all steamy and don’t get me started on stepping in to a puddle first thing in the morning and having soggy toes all day…
But, as I get ready to celebrate my fourth Christmas in Australia, there are a few things that help to make this the only time of year I get truly homesick.
1. The Radio Times Christmas Guide.
I understand why Australian TV isn’t great, why would anyone spend time inside when they could be having beers by the pool, and this is especially true over the Christmas period and height of summer. That feeling you get when you notice Big is on next Sunday or the excitement over TV specials just doesn’t happen here. I have fond memories of going through the TV guide with a fine tooth comb and planning my TV schedule making sure I didn’t miss any of the good stuff (I was a fun kid).
2. Mulled wine.
Mmm, it’s 34 degrees outside and the humidity is a refreshing 85%. Do you know what I’m really looking forward to after a long day at work? Some heated up red wine. SAID NO ONE EVER. I just want to sit next to a fire in a proper pub and sip on some warm, clovey goodness. Ditto to sloe gin heated in my Dad’s pocket by a bonfire with sneaky sips taken when no one else is looking.
3. Christmas Markets.
Every Monday for a few years I had to take the train to Birmingham for choir rehearsal (I was a fun, middle class kid). During November and December my route from the station to the concert hall took me through the German Market and I’m not ashamed to admit that there may have ben one or two weeks when I *ahem* missed a rehearsal because I got a bit lost amongst the Christmassy goodness. It seems to have spiralled since I left and now whenever I see someone’s instagram of their bratwurst against a backdrop of hats, scarves and lights my tummy gets a twinge of jealousy.
4. Getting wrapped up warm.
Note: this only really applies to those lovely crisp, cold days. No one enjoyed having to wrap up warm and waterproof themselves too. There’s something gorgeous about chucking on a snood, beanie and boots and wandering through a frost covered park. The feeling your nose gets when the warmth of a pub first hits. How smug you feel waking up on a Sunday knowing you can stay in bed where it’s warm. Now if I wake up and it’s cold you just turn the aircon off.
^^^Christmas 2012 on main beach Byron Bay
I didn’t realise quote how much of a British thing Panto is until you go abroad, yell “LOOK BEHIIIIIIIND YOOOOOU” as a punchline and have no one else get the joke. Even though they’re always crap, full of Z-list celebs and unfunny jokes it would still be nice to pop along. After a childhood with an annual pilgrimage to the Hippodrome between Boxing Day and NYE for over a decade I’d kill for a drag Queen with some terrible puns and Tony from Hollyoaks playing Buttons. (I’m going to guess that none of the above made sense to anyone not from Blighty!).
6. Real Christmas trees
Last year I begged and pleaded for us to have a real Christmas trees. There is a farm in the Tablelands which manages to cultivate them (it’s a bit cooler up there) and I got so excited when i found out. Before then I think Mikey may have thought my declarations of love for Christmas were a bit put on. Ha! More fool him when we were dragging a 6ft pine tree in to a maxi taxi to bring home. Unfortunately no matter how much TLC I gave it the tree died, and by the time Christmas day rolled around the baubles were hanging off dry twigs and sweeping up fallen needles became a full time job. This year we’re faking it. But, oh, I’ll miss that smell!
^^^Present opening last year displaying the gorgeous but very dry Christmas tree!!!
7. Carol Concerts
Since the age of 8 I’ve been a pretty staunch atheist, but that’s never stopped me from having a love of singing in places of worship. Those religious types know how to write a rousing tune, ok? Sing those songs in a place with beautiful acoustics, incredible architecture and lit by the lights of a thousand flickering candles and you’ve got a recipe for one happy little singing atheist. Given that the oldest building in Australia is probably younger than my nails it’s not quite the same. If you haven’t got tombs, damp sandstone and some stained glass windows don’t call yourself a church.
8. Snow and Ice
Okay, so a white Christmas isn’t exactly guaranteed and you’re more likely to be greeted with grey skies than a white out come dawn, but at least there’s a chance of it. Hope. Over here we cross our fingers for the cyclone season to start late!
^^^My last Christmas at home in 2010. A white Christmas which meant snow cricket in the garden!
But I’ve realised that i can’t spend every year feeling miserable around Christmas and getting sad about the sunshine. This is my home now and I need to make some new traditions. Because at some point in the future I’ll be back in the UK for the holiday season, slowly grumbling ‘but where are the….’ to myself as I sip my mulled wine while watching Eastenders.
So here’s to new traditions. Lamb for dinner, a mandatory swim after presents and the temperature rising with my Christmas cheer. I hope that soon I’ll have Christmas with loved ones from back home one day but until then…Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
Now, I’m off to spend Christmas on a yacht over at Fitzroy Island.
Yeah, all that sympathy just disappeared didn’t it?