Claiming a Aussie Christmas

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 9.21.33 amIt is only 7 weeks until Christmas and Christmas in Aus. is something very different from celebrations throughout the rest of the world. It was very early in my childhood that I noted this difference and it began with the arrival of the Christmas cards. I would wonder at those cards, glorious and inviting pictures of snowflakes and snowmen, frosted Christmas trees and reindeers pulling sleighs all things that I had never seen.

It seemed to me that it promised a world that was fanciful; a fantasy in dreams where magic could happen and things that never were possible could come to pass.

It wasn’t until I was a little older than I realized that there were actual places like those promised a Christmas like the ones painted in those cards. I discovered also that they weren’t portraits of a dreamtime, they weren’t even a Dreamtime. Dreamtime belonged in the same land that I did and it was hot, wet and summertime where I was. These cards illustrated a world that was as far removed from my experience as the moon was.
It was about that same time that I began to reject what I was told was my world as it wasn’t my experience at all. I also began to mistrust what I was told in popular media and even in our Education System, a lot of this had nothing to do with our land Downunder. I have come to realise over time that this lesson perhaps was the only real plus.

Up to that point, all my childhood life I had been led to believe that these images were what represented Christmas and it was a totally erroneous assumption on the part of popular media and commercialism. Yet Aussies still bought the lie, they still followed the popular imagery and rarely ever questioned it.

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 9.24.16 amMy parents and grandparents still cooked that steaming hot meal to be eaten in the middle of the day, a meal with all the trimmings and sauces, boiled puddings and custards, baked vegetables and roasted meats. The trouble was that it was 40C (104F) heat out there under the sun and to eat this meal we had been dragged out of the swimming pool and were expected to laze under the sun afterwards. And we did!  We all laid around like stuffed animals waiting for the meal to settle before we hit the water again… it was crazy. Were we all insane! Not likely, but they had bought into the fallacy of what Christmas should be, as fed to us by the media and commerce of the day and as inappropriate as it was.

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 9.33.44 amI do not relate to the white Christmas. My Christmas’s are now BBQ’s blue skies and a golden sun, time spent in the shade with cold hams and salads. Turkey is an anathema to me but bring on the sea food I say! We serve our beers cold, they are the only ‘frosty’ in our celebrations if you don’t count the ice-cream and even our wines are served chilled. Yes… even the reds. I realized long ago that the ‘room temperature’ of the Northern sphere is our ‘chilled’ down under. Think about it.

My children’s experience of Christmas celebrations bears little resemblance to what was my own experience and now that I have grandkids galore I find that I am still remodelling what is our Aussie Christmas. This year I had cause to consider that icon of Christmas, the Christmas tree.  The popular tree is the pine or one that has similarity to this, dead or alive but mostly dead by the end of the celelbration. We have native pine trees in Aus. but what we don’t have is snow, so icicles are out. The Christmas tree is popularly represented as a pine tree full of icicles and the reflected light of ice. Candles on tree’s are another thing and I have often wondered about that … are they burning the bloody thing down or maybe lighting the room, I was never too sure? It’s a worry that because fire in trees in Aus. particularly in summer is another anathema… but anyway.

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 9.42.39 amOur brood left the premises some years ago now and we dispensed with the big fake tree an eon ago. Instead we have made do with a light display that at least looks like an avant-garde version of a tree but now that has been retired to the caravan as it is small, compact and easy to set up where ever we may have travelled to. A few years ago I decided that as the offspring were spread all over the country, we would spend Christmas with each in turn, no matter where they were. No excuses were acceptable… no place too distant and this has made for some great holidays.

This year however the kids are descending on us and it is gunna’ be a riot at hand. As they are travelling in from all over the country and as our numbers are swelling to be running now in the multi dozen region we will be utilizing the large backyard masonry oven or fire oven for all things cookable. Hubby built this some years ago for our gatherings and it is a great breakaway from the BBQ… no one has to stand there and turn the sausages under the glare of the sun now… I luv the thing!

The family for most part will be camping out in the back yard and the place will be more popular than the local park on Christmas Day. Given this I have decided rather than invest in another mammoth tree we would utilize one of the trees in the centre of the back yard and I have just the tree and fittingly God planted it a few years ago… a passing bird no less. This tree, up now for a trim and a remodel will be ideal and I have had only to consider decorations.

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 9.23.11 amWe get wonderful summer storms here, lightning, thunder and all the promise of that wonderful summer deluge that arrives at a set hour and departs just as quickly. They are glorious, if not a little flakey of late but they are not conducive to the survival of Chrissy tree decorations. Now this took some thinking.

Searching the web I came up with a solution that is as Aussie as meat pies. Solar lights to decorate the tree, and the patio, and the tents are going to be just the answer I was looking for. I selected those that are reminiscent of our stars and I can’t wait for the kids to arrive so that we can spread them all around the yard and over the tree. It is going to be yet another wonderful Aussie Christmas and if anyone brings a snowflake, I will just roast them.

7 weeks to countdown.

Ps. Son no.3 has suggested we restrict our wrapping paper to alfoil, this was at least it will be waterproof … not a bad idea actually.

How Do You Know it is Christmas in Aus’?

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6 thoughts on “Claiming a Aussie Christmas

  1. Pingback: Oldies at Large – Christmas CHEER!!! | Jan Hawkins Author

  2. Pingback: Oldies at Large – Camping in the Backyard | Jan Hawkins Author

  3. This is who our Christmas’s were spent in the Austarlian bush, as the crow fly’s around a few bends and up the Georges river from you.

    As I got older, it was my job to get the Christmas Journal out and write the Christmas cards to all the family and friends, think I counted 200, but that was my job and I loved it,

    A few day before Christmas we would pack the presents & food & a solid block of ice for the ice chest to keep the meat, milk & butter cool, we had a coolgarlie too (cool-safe a cabinet, for the storage of perishables foodsuffs, which allows a breeze to blow through wet fabric, such as hessian, thus reducing the temperature inside).

    Off we’d set, park the car at the top of the gorge and walk down to our camp, The Cave, which it was, 100m by a bush track, our beds were made from logs with painted hessian strung between them, throw our pillow and sleeping bag on, beds made, pull the table off the double bed mattress and put the table and chairs on the level ground in front of the cave, we had a wash stand at the edge of the bush so we could look down the valley while doing our chores. Then collect fire wood from the bush for the camp fire, we cooked over a open campfire, billies were always at the ready for cooking or a billy of tea. Camp set up, now carefree days for us kids.

    Off with our clothes as it was a nudist camp (so you didn’t have to worry about what you had to wear except if it got chilly and mum didn’t have to waste holiday time washing) grab our towels, off 200m down a bush track to the river, the race was on, whoever got in front was the winner ( cause we have lots of snake in Australia I wouldn’t be the first runner, I wasn’t stupid, but there was another saying, the natives take the last person, so I fought to make sure I was the middle runner, I never told my brother why I wanted to be middle runner hahahahaha ) mind you this was a 45 degree valley track, how we never came a cropper is a wonder, on to the beach, down towels and into the river, we had canoes, a big surfski and our arms and legs, we’d swim for hours, there could be up to 20 people at a time, so we had lots of kids to play with, at 11.30 we would have to go back up to the cave, run again all the way, wish I could do that now,between the hours of 11.30am and 2pm we weren’t allowed in the sun, being the hottest part of the day, then down the river again till it was tea time, food was always great on the open fire, bacon and eggs for breakie, salad and tin meat for lunch, dinner was usually, chops/ steak/fish what ever was going, salad or vegies, after dinner we would sit around the camp fire and listen to stories or sing.

    Christmas eve we would decorate a few trees out from the cave with red and green crape paper and a few silver bottle top lids we saved, off down the river being kids, after dinner we would sit around the camp fire and sing Christmas carols…..
    Wake up to the birds singing on Christmas morning open our presents (hahaha clothes) bacon, eggs and billy tea and the grown ups would have wine and orange juice, chores done off full pace down to the river, we had a mate of my brother’s who was a Scott’s man, he played the Bagpipes, so we could listen to the bagpipes and swim ….
    For Christmas lunch we’d have Roast chicken on the camp fire and salad, Christmas pudding and custard …. such is life as a kid
    At my older brother’s cave we had a clear level area which we called the dance floor, around this area were placed dimiejons with lit candles, we had grandma Rebecca’s gramophone with a swag of 78’s records and dance the night away, or we’d have a bonfire on the beach and listen to the bagpipes and swim, the river was used to keep the beer and wine cool, by placing it in the water, us kids just drank the water from the river (that’s when it was crystal clear) the adults who had a bit much to drink slept by the fire zzzzzzzzzzzzz
    This is my Christmas’s as a kid, before we got a car then we would sometimes spend Christmas on the road ………. 🙂 X

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