Christmas is one of those occasions that always looks different in the brochure, right? Well, you know, if there was an actual brochure. But the plethora of Christmas advertising shoved at your face this time of year serves the same purpose. Al those beautiful, smiling people in lovely sweaters, perfectly symmetrical faces bathed in the glow of the lights form the impeccably decorated Christmas tree. Ugh. I hate those people. I want to jab their eyes out with candy canes.
Christmas, to me and to any other inhabitant of the southern hemisphere, is always a little weird. We’re bombarded with carols about winter wonderlands, and sleigh rides, and our shopping centres are decorated with massive snowflakes and fake glittery icicles. Santa’s grotto is a little piece of the North Pole right between the food court and the department store. Meanwhile, it’s so stinking hot outside that the road surface is melting.
I told JA Rock the other day that Christmas gives Australian kids a strong grounding in cynicism. You try and watch TV at Christmas and see something without snow. Or a fireplace. Or a sled. Those Christmas movies don’t exist. Our version of Christmas is never the one played out on TV.
Our version of Christmas—at least here in the tropics—is one where the house smells of ripe mango. It’s the one where you spend ages in line at the seafood place late on Christmas Eve to pick up the prawns and Moreton Bay bugs. It the one where you’ve never had a turkey, because who the hell wants to stand in a sweltering hot kitchen when you should be relaxing with a cool drink instead? Cold cuts and salad.
Which isn’t to say that I’ll be doing much of that this year either. When my alarm goes at 5 a.m. I won’t be leaping out of bed to see what Santa brought. I’ll be getting ready for work instead. And you know what’s weird? I don’t actually mind. Because I generally like the people I work with, so getting to spend half of Christmas day with them is actually a good thing. We’re having a Secret Santa, and all bringing something to share for lunch.
Then, in the afternoon, I’ll be hanging out with my Mum (since the rest of the extended family is having an actual white Christmas in Germany, damn them) and we’ll probably do an early dinner and catch up with friends and play stupid board games.
Then, in the one Christmas tradition my family accidentally developed, we’ll pull out a jigsaw puzzle at my Mum’s place, clear the dining table and every time someone passes the table, they’ll take a few moments to work on the puzzle. We usually have the thing finished by New Year.