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It’s Beginning To Sound A Lot Like… Christmas?

By Mike Hytner on January 22, 2013 in Other

Sitting around a roaring log fire, eating too much turkey, Brussels sprouts, chipolatas, gravy and stuffing, drinking too much mulled wine and Irish coffee, lobbing snowballs at loved ones… this is the stuff that my Christmases have always been made of.

Okay, so my family has never owned a log fire and it’s only snowed on Christmas Day twice in my lifetime, but this has always been the quintessential version of Christmas for me, even if the component parts are generally nothing more than romantic notions.

It always will be too, despite the glaring differences to the festive season that I am struggling to get used to in Australia. The truth is that for an inexperienced, not yet fully acclimatised ex-pat, an Aussie Christmas can be a pretty strange experience.

Surely that’s understandable though, considering the two versions couldn’t be further removed from one another. Instead of log fires, all of a sudden we’re relaxing in front of breaking waves. Mulled wine straight off the hob is swapped for a cool beer pulled from the Esky and rather than of a full programme of Boxing Day football, there’s a Test match being played.

It’ll take some getting used to, for sure. Maybe even more so when you consider those elements of the holiday period that have remained intact, despite translation to different climes.

Take Santa, in full red and white garb, hat and beard and all, sat with acquisitive kids on his lap in a grotto at the local shopping centre as an example. Given the searing 35-degree heat outside, it’s incongruous at best, verging on absurd.

Do the children really believe in him over here? Is it not enough of a leap of faith for them to accept that a fat old man in a red suit with a bushy white beard who rides a flying sleigh drawn by flying reindeers with red noses climbs down chimneys – millions in one night – to feast on mince pies and drink milk while feeding his animals carrots before leaving presents under a small indoor tree with sparkly balls on, without expecting the bloke to do it all in sweltering heat?

That’s not the only thing that jars. Forget the current beef-promoting advert on the telly, Aussies love throwing a prawn on the barbie (I’ll make the concession over the use of the word ‘shrimp’). We had them last year. They were great, as were the whole fish, the salads and the cold hams. But festive? Not in my book. Not without lumpy gravy or burnt veggies on the table.

Then there are the Christmas trees, the roasting chestnuts and the freezing kids in hats and scarves singing carols on your doorstep – all essential, wintry elements of Christmas that are missing from the festive season over here.

This is beginning to sound like a rant, but it isn’t meant to be. Far from it. It’s just the nostalgia talking. And given that the true meaning of Christmas was lost long ago – for me, anyway – how can a new festive experience be scoffed at? Especially one which includes so many pleasurable things?

So will someone please pass me the sun lotion; I’m heading down to the beach to finish off my Christmas pudding!